Once a shipwright, Dodds’s work illustrates the anatomy of boats, revealing the materials and curves that underwrite them. This aspect of his work is explored in Emily Harris’s film for Classic Yacht TV, ‘Shaped by the Sea’, which draws many parallels between painting and the art of boat building.
Dodds’s recent paintings, however, go beyond tracing the shipwright’s logic. Rich in colour, tone and texture, his canvases move beyond documentary, recalling the myths and history of boats and how they have essentially shaped Britain. His painted boats float in rich, self-contained tones, often composed of layers of earth pigment and even East Anglian soil, unearthing the strata of memory that surround each vessel.
His new work also retains a sense of the ancient. Following recent trips to Norfolk and Denmark, Dodds decided to focus on the North Sea crossings and contends that all clinker-built boats around the British coastline derived from Viking vessels.
In the foreword to the exhibition catalogue, art historian Ian Collins writes: “[Dodds's] life and work are forever immersed in the spirit and spectacle of the sea.” Indeed, born in Brightlingsea, Dodds built his studio a few miles upstream in Wivenhoe, in what was once a great boatyard on the River Colne.