on 12 April 2014
Kenneth Shoesmith was a marine artist with exemplary draughting skills. Unfortunately little has been published on the work of this significant marine artist so this work is a necessary addition to the literature of the genre and the artist in particular. However, this work is NOT definitive and, in some respects, the author has not been well served by his publisher.
In the first instance this is probably the most comprehensive book published to date in terms of the number of images of Shoemiths work, but again it is not definitive - and I use the word 'comprehensive' loosely. The emphasis is on Shoesmith's liner paintings.
Considering Ulster Museum has probably the largest single collection of original Shoesmiths, it is surprising that the quality of reproduction is not up to the standards one would expect from an art book (some are out-of-focus). The less than perfect colour reproductions are not helped by the awful pale blue colour of the pages, which detract from the vibrancy of Shoesmith's work. Why the publisher decided to spoil the book in this way is beyond comprehension - to this reviewer it shows the book was 'designed' by someone with no understanding of how best to show-off to maximum advantage artwork, regardless of medium.
The less than perfect reproductions, particularly of works where the originals exist suggests that the photographer had little idea on photographing artwork! This is a great shame. Shoesmith deserves better!
The text demonstrates poor proof reading, if any! As an example, the opening sentence to the author's Introduction is an appalling piece of writing! Furthermore, the statement made by the author in this sentence is completely inaccurate and shows the limitations of the author's amatuer and less than thorough 'research'. There are far too many references to the vanity of the author's 'research' - which should have been confined to the introduction rather than tediously telling the reader of what he was or was not successful in - and not enough substance on the life and work of Shoesmith (the life of Shoesmith is summed-up in only five pages - and all have reproductions on!). The lengthy captions to the reproductions are more about the ships and shipping companies than about Shesmith's techniques. Indeed, this book contains absolutely nothing about the various techniques and mediums employed by Shoesmith, or the sizes of his originals. In this respect this is NOT a book about Shoesmith's work, but about the ships he painted!
Maybe it's time for Ulster Museum to correct the imbalance and produce a quality publication that does justice to the very real quality of Shoesmith's work. In the meantime, any serious reader and student of the history and development of marine painting and drawing then this book is a 'must have'.
on 1 November 2013
Only one minor criticism and that is regarding the lack of Mr Shoesmith's classic Royal Mail and Cunard paintings. The book gives an excellent overview of his work, showing that he was more that a one-trick-pony, but at the expense of some of his most popular work. Those that are there are fine, but just a few more of the more recognisable works would have been the icing on the cake.