Barbara Tapp grew up in Australia in the ’50s, loving cargo steam ships. “My family had a friendship with a Norwegian sea captain whose cargo ship Themis travelled the Australian coastline, transporting wheat and raw goods,” she says. “For over two decades, he would arrive once a year and we would pick him up or go aboard for dinner and twice we travelled up and down the coast as passengers. As a child, I loved the smell of the ship and standing beside the massive black steel hull, then climbing the looming gang plank aboard.”
Today, the SS Red Oak Victory, a WW11 munitions cargo ship and the last Victory ship built in 1944 by Kaiser Steel in Richmond, California, is undergoing a volunteer-based restoration. And Barbara has been invited to exhibit aboard the ship to help raise awareness of this restoration project. Thus far, she’s completed 14 paintings, and she hasn’t even made it on board yet. We’ll be keeping track of this exciting project as it progresses, but here’s a peek at a few of the first pieces in the series.
“A huge Whirley Crane used in construction of the Victory ships stands sentry beside the Red Oak,” says Barbara. “There is a fascinating relationship of scale between both manmade structures, and there is a dialogue between form and rigging that creates interesting geometric shapes and patterns.”
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