Gallery - living-language-land



2022   12x12" shadow box

Coble: A traditional open wooden fishing boat built without a keel

  • Language: Northumbrian Coastal Speech
  • Region: Northumbrian Coast, UK

The word ‘coble’ refers to the wooden boat traditionally used for inshore fishing on the NE English coast between Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland and the Humber in Yorkshire. A coble is more than just a boat. Built by the eye, without a plan, its lines evolved over centuries for sail, to respond economically to the wind and local sea conditions. Its characteristic shape, deep ‘forefoot’ and flat bottom aft, developed in response to the need to launch from beaches.

As the focus of a family-based economy, a coble embodied the traditions, beliefs and values of concentric human circles: its crew of three men, their families, the village, and the culture of the entire coast. It required many skills – boat-builder, joiner, blacksmith, sail-maker or engineer – and supported local businesses selling paint, linseed oil, paraffin and ‘perrins’ of thread. In short, a coble represented a whole community.

For this piece I chose as model a traditional blue and white coble with its distinctive red sail. Alongside it run the salmon, one of the many species of fish and shellfish captured through the seasons.

For the full description, along with pronunciation, map and short video, click HERE.