James Dodds (artist)

James Dodds (born 1957) is an East Anglian artist whose practice centers on painting, linocut and relief carving. Born in Brightlingsea, Essex, he now lives and works in Wivenhoe producing prints and books as the Jardine Press.[1] He is the son of East Anglian artist Andrew Dodds[2][3] and has been described as "boatbuilding’s artist laureate".[4] He is arguably East Anglia's most famous contemporary artist after Dame Maggi Hambling.[5]

James Dodds
Known forpainting, carving, printing, stained-glass


James Dodds followed an apprenticeship as a shipwright in Maldon, Essex from 1972 to 1976. He studied at Colchester Institute from 1976 to 1977, the Chelsea School of Art from 1977 to 1980 and the Royal College of Art in London from 1981 to 1984.[6]


Dodds exhibits regularly at Bircham Contemporary Arts Gallery (Holt, Norfolk), Messum's Fine Art Gallery (London), Hayletts Gallery (Maldon, Essex), North House Gallery (Manningtree, Essex) and Dowling Walsh Gallery (Maine USA).[7]

His paintings and hand-made prints are inspired by boats and boat building, especially those craft peculiar to East Anglia.[8] He had a major retrospective show, "Shipshape", at Firstsite at The Minories, Colchester in November 2001. This show subsequently toured at Whitstable, Herne Bay, Frome, Isle of Wight, Barnard Castle, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, Great Yarmouth and Hartlepool.[9] Dodds's work returned to Firstsite with a new exhibition called "Wood to Water".[10][11] A timelapse film of Dodds making a large painting for this show called Timepeace is on his website.

On the 16 August 2016 Dodds received the John Nash medal from Colchester Art Society for his contribution to the arts.[12]

His work has been purchased by Britten-Pears Library, Aldeburgh; Victoria and Albert Museum; Clacton & Rochford Hospitals; Chelmsford and Essex Museums; Ipswich Borough Council, Museums and Galleries; Colchester Borough Council; Horniman Museum, London. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UCS East Contemporary Art Collection;Ipswich, MMoFA, Madison, Georgia, USA; Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art; The Sainsbury Centre, Norwich and many private collectors.[13] He is better known for his dramatic linocuts of coastal towns, nautical myths and legends, as well as his large paintings of various boats.[14]

In July 2007 Dodds received an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in recognition of his "distinguished contribution to the local community as an artist and defender of our community and natural heritage." His style evokes the spirit of rural and maritime East Anglia with scenes of daily life and folklore.[15] He has also conceived, illustrated and hand-produced a series of handmade artists' books.[16]

A short film, "Shaped by the Sea", about Dodds, by Emily Harris for Classic Yacht TV was released in May 2014.[17] Played Anthony's father in Joanna Hogg's Sundance Grand Jury winning Film The Souvenir & The Souvenir II


  • 1999 Awarded GMC Trust Best in Show ‘Aldeburgh Beach’
  • 2007 Honorary doctorate from University of Essex.
  • 2012 Ian Collins biography “James Dodds Tide Lines" wins EDP Jarrolds East Anglian Art & Photography Book Award [18]
  • 2016 John Nash medal from Colchester Art Society
  • 2021 Ian Collins biography “James Dodds The Blue Boat”


Selected solo exhibitionsEdit

Selected group exhibitionsEdit

  • 1991/1998/1999/2000, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
  • 1993, Wetzlar, Germany
  • 1994, John Callahan Gallery, Boston, United States
  • 1995, "4 from Wivenhoe". Courcoux & Courcoux, Hampshire "Ultra Marine", Liverpool "Forth, Tyne, Dogger", Brewery Arts, Cirencester
  • 1996, Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University "The Sea", Black Swan Arts, Frome
  • 1997, City Arts Gallery. Leeds Union of Artists, St. Petersburg, Russia Mall Gallery, London
  • 1999, Eastern Open. King's Lynn Arts Centre, Norfolk Mystic Seaport. USA: New York Ship Terminal, United States
  • 2000, The Hunting Art Prizes. London
  • 2000, "Alphabet Soup". Printworks, Sudbury, Suffolk
  • 2001/2003,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011, Messum's Cork Street. London
  • 2013, "Masterpieces,Art and East Anglia" Sainsbury Centre, Norwich.[20]


"Looking at the paintings of James Dodds for the first time one is struck by the literalness of the work, the sheer specificity of plank on frame built outward by the practiced hand of a man whose obsession with the form and structure of boats had taken him out of school at fifteen and into a shipyard apprenticeship. Slowly, however, the force of his artistry begins to gather beyond this initial impression. In a striking and mysterious piece of visual alchemy, what once seemed specific now glides toward the abstract. Parts, once distinct, become a whole. A lyric buoyancy emerges. Our consciousness fuses with our unconscious. The eye and the mind's eye become one."[21] -Mayher, Bill. "An Eye for Boats, A Sense of Place: The Art of James Dodds." Wooden Boat Publication 2008.

And in Dodd's world, as in ours, the water is always there. His landscapes, rather than showing a fish-eye view, show a sea's-eye view. Here mankind and its works are laid before us – frail, clever, tender, damaged, beautiful and trying to stay safely alive. His perspective shows us our home from the point of view of the outsider. We are perhaps seeing as a boatman would, or a Viking raider, a Wivenhoe smuggler, a war time mariner. We may be aloft at a masthead, we may be adrift in time. And we may be angels. Something about the work insists – we may be angels with salt on our wings.

A L Kennedy, writer and broadcaster.


  1. ^ Emma Roodhouse. Graphic art and the art of illustration: Paul Nash, John Nash, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and their circle. The Minories.
  2. ^ "Wivenhoe artist James Dodds back at Firstsite Art Gallery". Gazette News. 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  3. ^ "Andrew Dodds". The Independent. 2005-01-05. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  4. ^ "Drawn to the Form: James Dodds". Classic Boat. 2015-08-01. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  5. ^ "Sea Pictures Gallery". James Dodds. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  6. ^ "James Dodds". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  7. ^ "James Dodds Biography". Bircham Gallery. 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  8. ^ "James Dodds Biography". The Castle Gallery. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  9. ^ "James Dodds". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  10. ^ "Wivenhoe artist James Dodds back at Firstsite Art Gallery". Colchester Gazette. 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  11. ^ "Colchester's Firstsite gallery embraces the local community". EADT. 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  12. ^ "Colchesster Art Society Celebrates 70 Years". Colchester Gazette. 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  13. ^ "James Dodds". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  14. ^ "Biography for James Dodds RCA (1957)". Hayletts Gallery. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  15. ^ Emma Roodhouse. Graphic art and the art of illustration: Paul Nash, John Nash, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and their circle. The Minories.
  16. ^ "James Dodds". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  17. ^ It can be seen here.
  18. ^ "James Dodds Biography". Bircham Gallery. 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  19. ^ "JAMES DODDS "LIFEBOAT"". Chappel Galleries. 2005. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  20. ^ "JAMES DODDS "LIFEBOAT"". Chappel Galleries. 2005. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  21. ^ "James Dodds". Dowling Walsh Gallery. Retrieved 2014-08-11.