TALK: ‘The Story Boat’ with Gail McGarva


Bank Holiday Monday 26 August, 11am, free event  Bookings

Gail McGarva has a fascinating life story, in 2004 at the age of 39, she decided to re-train as a boatbuilder having worked as a Sign Language Interpreter for many years. Her specialist area is the building of replicas or as Gail prefers to call them ‘daughter boats’, breathing life into a new generation of traditional craft. These working boats are designed to have a long and hard-working life, they are strong and robust and yet the lines of these boats are truly elegant.

Gail sees this creative process as breathing life into a new generation of historic boats. Not the creation of static museum pieces but the building of boats as an expression of ‘living history’ where people cherish a sense of belonging and connection to the boats and to the sea. Gail is passionate about celebrating their beautiful blend of form and function and the stories they have to tell about their people and their shores. All boats have a story to tell……….

Gail’s ‘Story Boat’ (pictured here) gave a new lease of life on land to a retired Lerret boat, by up-turning her and transforming it into an intimate mobile maritime oral history ‘ museum’ where people’s memories are preserved and shared. The ‘Story Boat’ will be featured in our Material Wood exhibition from Saturday 18 August.

Gail has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to traditional clinker boat building and to heritage crafts, has been on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s hour and her work was featured in the BBC 2 ‘Heritage Heroes’ series.
Her work has been featured in a wide range of magazines including Country Living and Landscape and she has written articles for the Journal of Modern Craft and Watercraft.
Gail was a speaker at the Heritage Craft Association’s inaugural conference at the V&A.
She has given lectures in variety of settings including Sheffield University’s School of Architecture as part of the lecture series ‘ The Thinking Craftsperson’ and Henley River and Rowing Museum’s annual conference.

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