A workshop for Gail McGarva

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Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis is running its first raffle to raise funds to provide permanent workshop space for Gail McGarva, a traditional wooden boat builder who trained at the Academy.

Gail is exceptional as a traditional boat builder in that she recognises that the wider community needs to be involved in, connected to and informed about traditional crafts if those crafts are to survive and be an active part of contemporary life. She is now at the stage in her career where she needs an appropriate, permanent workshop, but affordable space in the right place is hard to find. The Boat Building Academy is Gail’s boat building home and has a space which would be an ideal workshop in which Gail could not only practice her craft but also actively involve as wide a range of people as possible.

The Boat Building Academy is an internationally recognised boat building training school. Its graduates go on to work all over the world in a wide range of marine and woodworking occupations. Every inch of space in its building on the beach is in use. In order to house Gail the Academy needs to move the activities currently taking place in that workshop. As a not for profit company it cannot just reach into its pocket to fund a new workshop and in the current climate grants from outside bodies are difficult to find. Besides, the Academy wants to make its own contribution. This is where the raffle comes in. First prize is a place on an 8 week ‘Woodworking Skills’ course (plus £100 for the winner’s ‘personal project’ piece materials), second prize a 5 day course in Traditional Wooden Boat Building or Restoration and third prize is a day working with Gail McGarva in her new workshop. Details of the prizes are available on the Boat Building Academy’s website and the £1 tickets can be bought online, by post, telephone or in person from the school. The fee for the ‘Woodworking Skills’ course is normally £3,350 and its graduates have gone on to make new careers with the skills it has given them.

The draw will be made at the Lyme Regis Gig Regatta on August 14th.

Please see below for further details on Gail McGarva’s career. For information on the Boat Building Academy go to www.boatbuildingacademy.com or for any information contact Yvonne Green on 01297 445545 or at [email protected]

When Gail joined the Boat Building Academy as a student in 2005 she knew she wanted to focus on traditional wooden boat building. Her student build was a replica of the 1882 oldest remaining Shetland boat and was significant in her being named Trainee of the Year 2005 by the British Marine Federation. On graduation Gail went to build the Irish Atlantic Challenge gig as an apprentice before returning to the Boat Building Academy to project manage the Academy’s build of the first Cornish Pilot Gig for the newly formed Lyme Regis Gig Club. Not only was the gig a triumph in terms of the wooden boat building craft, but Gail involved students, staff, the people of Lyme Regis and beyond in the build, producing interpretation boards, running practical workshops, demonstrations and talks on the build and the history of Cornish Pilot Gigs and their racing. As an independent she went on to build the second gig for the town.

In 2010 Gail approached the Boat Building Academy with her latest project; to build a daughter boat to a traditional Dorset Lerret fishing boat ‘by eye’. All Gail needed was a space to build her in. Space is at a premium at the Academy. Requests for space for ‘non-student’ builds receive a flat refusal. But… building by eye is a tradition dying out with the senior generation, the boat is pertinent to Dorset and its marine life, Gail actively involves students and local community in builds… and is inspirational. The Academy housed the build and were part of an event that saw people from royal warrant holders to socially excluded kids to local pensioners to students taking part and being fascinated and inspired by the skills. Young people who could not write their names riveted and carved surrounded by boards setting the boat and the skills in their historical and sociological context. Hundreds of people attended the launch. Gail is an inspirational ambassador for traditional boat building skills and the Boat Building Academy wants to provide her with the practical security that will enable her to further develop her career.

Gail will be showing ‘Littlesea’, a traditional Dorset Lerret fishing boat, on our stand at Art in Action this year.

Emma Brice
Boat Building Academy Ltd
Lyme Regis Marine Centre
Monmouth Beach
Lyme Regis
Dorset  DT7 3JN
Tel:  +44 (0)1297 445545

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