New BVI Book Launched Celebrating Art of Sloop Building!
- October 29th, 2013
- in Lifestyle
Building a Virgin Islands Sloop: The Story of Sea Moon - BOOK LAUNCH!
Artist Lutia 'Tai' Durante and author Geoffrey Brooks
Above: Building a Virgin Islands Sloop: The Story of Sea Moon: Book Launch with author Geoffrey Brooks, artist Lutia ‘Tai’ Durante, the aLookingGlass Books Marketing and Publishing team and many special guests including the Minister of Education Hon. Myron Walwyn and the Governor of the BVI, His Excellency Governor Boyd McCleary
Photography (above) by Alexandra Durante
Building a Virgin Islands Sloop: The Story of Sea Moon
Last month, aLG Books released its newest title, Building a Virgin Islands Sloop: The Story of Sea Moon, written by Geoffrey Brooks with original artwork by Lutia “Tai” Durante.
The idea for the book came about when Virgin Islands Maritime Museum Curator Geoffrey Brooks helped Anegada boat builder Watson White build a traditional sloop several years ago. “I took a lot of photographs and made sure we recorded it as we went along,” Brooks said. Those photographs then became a PowerPoint slideshow for the museum, with Brooks getting assistance from students Claire Demming and Tiffany George.
Subsequently, that slideshow evolved into a book of photographs, published in 2009, and while Brooks was pleased to have the process published, he said of the original book that, “It wasn’t what I was looking for.”
A few years later, Brooks heard that aLookingGlass had started a book publishing company on island. He approached them with his project, and the project skyrocketed from there. “What we came up with versus the original is night and day. It is so far beyond what I imagined the book would look like. Nick [Cunha, Creative Director of aLookingGlass,] was able to recruit Lutia Durante who took a lot of the photographs and turned them into paintings, so that we’ve ended up with a book that is a combination of paintings and photographs and text.”
Cunha added, “While the words of the story were well written and effective, the visual tale did not equal the inspiration of the message he was trying to create, so we proposed recreating everything visually from scratch. Fortunately, through our “Artists’ Corner” feature in Virgin Islands Property & Yacht, we had a lot of contacts with local artists, and while we considered all of them, one stood out.
“Over the years, we had cultivated a relationship with Durante, strongly based on our similar artistic sensibilities. We also knew he had a passion for his own culture and heritage, so we felt he would make the best fit.”
The artist expressed his gratitude towards aLookingGlass and Brooks for involving him. “I recently went over by the [HLSCC] Marine Centre, and I saw some pictures of my uncles on the boats, and that’s where the inspiration came from, from seeing my family on those walls, but I couldn’t get it out of my system until [aLookingGlass] came to me about this book,”he said. “I loved the mixture of colours—the shadows of the belly of the boat when it was standing in the eastern sunlight,” he said. “If I continue doing it,” he added, “I can get even better.” He shared how the project inspired him to reach out to others about the possibility of building a sloop. “I asked some guys in East End if we could start to build one, so that got me even more interested to be around them—how to caulk them, how to sail them.”
Durante mentioned a 40-foot mast he has growing on his property. “Mr [Elmore] Stoutt said that each village should have a sloop,” Durante said, “and it would be good for the kids to learn how it’s built and how to sail it.”
Once the creative team was assembled, they had to find a way to fund the project. “To us, it was important to keep the production of the book as local as possible: designing it in the BVI, with a boat built in the BVI, a book written by a BVI resident, with paintings by an artist who was creating artwork in the BVI, and we found someone locally to fund the printing of the project—VP Bank. They have been very focused on educating the population on the BVI’s maritime heritage.”
Brooks mentioned that $5.00 from the sale of every book will go towards the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum. Additionally, a free copy of the book will be donated to every school and library in the territory. “We are hoping that it will be used as a tool to promote the maritime tradition in the Virgin Islands and to encourage the craft of traditional boat building,” Brooks said. “While the BVI is known as a mecca of sailing,” Cunha said,” there isn’t a lot of accessible historical records of the BVI’s boat building history, aside from the Maritime Museum. The purpose of those boats now is leisure and play, but at the time, it was essential to their daily lives.”
“In the middle of production,” Cunha said, “we were lucky to bring on board an experienced UK designer who was instantly bombarded by this locally and culturally important project. He saw it through the eyes of the boat builder and emphasised how the boat was built from the ground up, finally making a visual story worthy of the message contained in the text.”
In addition to the story of Sea Moon’s transformation, the book also includes two pages of diagrams of sloops that identify all the different parts of the boat and a glossary of terms that lists the parts of the boat, defines the hand tools and explains their use. It adds further detail about the types of trees used in the process.
“I think that’s the first time that all that’s been put together in one place,” Brooks said.
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