Once a shipwright, Dodds’ paintings illustrate the anatomy of boats, revealing the materials and curves that underwrite the finished vessel. This aspect of his work is explored in Emily Harris’ film for Classic Yacht TV, ‘Shaped by the Sea’, which draws many parallels between the art of the boat builder and the painter of boats.

Yet his paintings go beyond retracing the shipwright’s logic. Rich in colour, tone and texture, they move beyond the literal and evoke sailing’s mythic and historic dimensions. Ethereal in light and tone, paintings of restored boats evoke a lifetime at sea, unearthing the layers of memory that shroud every vessel.

Ancestral lines also resurface in the artist’s new work. Following recent trips to Norfolk and Denmark, Dodds sheds new light on historic North Sea crossings, contending that all clinker-built boats around the British coastline derive from Viking vessels.

As Ian Collins writes: “[Dodds’] life and work are forever immersed in the spirit and spectacle of the sea.” Born in Brightlingsea, Dodds has built his studio a few miles upstream in Wivenhoe, in what was once a great boatyard on the River Colne. Before enrolling in the Royal College of Art he worked as a shipwright, rebuilding Thames barges on Britain’s east coast.


2015      Messum’s, London
2013      Messum’s, London
2013      Bircham Contemporary Arts, Holt, Norfolk
2012      Dowling Walsh, Rockland, Maine, USA
2012      Hayletts Gallery, Maldon, Essex
2012      Drang Gallery, Padstow
2011      Church Street Gallery, Saffron Walden, Essex
2011      Messum’s, London
2010      ‘James Dodds and the Jardine Press’, Lewis Elton Gallery, University of Surrey
2010      Dowling Walsh, Rockland, Maine USA
2010      Buckenham Galleries, Southwold
2009      ‘American Boats’, Messum’s, London
2009      ‘25 Years of Jardine Press’, Messum’s, London
2009      Bircham Gallery, Holt (two man show with Stephen Henderson)
2008      Haylett’s Gallery, Maldon
2007      Messum’s, London
2006      Messum’s, London
2005      Hartlepool Art Gallery
2005      ‘Time & Tide’, Great Yarmouth
2004      Messum’s, London
2003      National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
2003      National Maritime Museum of Cornwall
2002      Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Durham
2002      Quay Art Centre, Isle of Wight
2002      Black Swan Arts, Frome, Somerset
2002      Herne Bay Museum & Art Gallery, Kent
2002      Whitstable Museum & Art Gallery, Kent
2001      firstsite @ The Minories, Colchester