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Have we found our man?
Posted on 17 July 2012
AR Woods – have we found him?
Since our projects began we have all wanted to know who the painter of the mural at Ness Battery is. We have put out appeals and various people – particularly Andy Hollinrake from Stromness Tours – have done extensive research.
So have our joint efforts found this man at last… Well read on, compare the photos and see what you think.
Albert John Rycraft Woods was born in Gravesend, Kent in 1878. He was a seaman turned piermaster and was employed by the Port of London Authority in the latter decades of his working life. His final position was as piermaster at Tower Pier before he retired in 1947.
A.R. Woods and his dog, Peter
Although now seemingly forgotten in Kent and London, he was something of a celebrity in his day. He published his memoirs I Guarded The Waterfront in 1942. The book shows a picture of him posing with his dog.
The book, published in accordance with the ‘Book Production War Economy Standard’, could say nothing about what he had done to date during World War II, as of course it was subject to the strict censorship in place in the interests of national security at the time.
As well as writing he was an amateur artist. He seems not to have used his initial J when signing his paintings, and indeed the dust jacket of his book says AR Woods. However, a typographic error gives his initials as AP on the book itself.
The Tower of London on the left and shutters on the cottage on the right. Can you see the similarities?
London Docks on the left and on the right a close up of reflections in the stream.
The picture above is the one owned by Mr McTavish and was recently loaned to the Stromness Musuem for a short exhibition. It shows buildings in the background. Are there similarities between the buildings and the trees depicted on the mural?
And finally lets look at the signatures.
And not to influence you in any way but the S on each of them reminds me of the number 5. The signature from the mural is on the bottom left! :-)
Experts are increasingly confident that the Kent born piermaster was the man responsible for the Ness Battery mural. Recent work by Scottish Wall Painting Conservators resulted in their professional opinion being that the oil paintings you see and the mural are by the same hand.
Albert Woods died in Deptford, London in 1950. We are fairly sure this is the man who painted the mural at Ness. What do you think?
Posted on 17 July 2012