Search records

Wrack Gathering on Douglas Shore

Date made: late 19th century

Artist: Holland, John

Description: Carting Seaweed from Douglas Shore by John Holland, charcoal on paper.

The date of this drawing is unknown, but it is interesting to see a report in the Manx Quarterly, January 10, 1920 (p. 180, No. 22. Vol. V.), which detailed what became known as the ‘wraick (wrack, seaweed) harvest’. This occurred with an ‘abnormal prevalence of inshore winds at Douglas’ which procured an abundant supply of ‘very excellent and cheap fertiliser’ in the form of wrack.

The carts which can be seen on the left-hand side of the drawing, in the foreground, are mentioned in the report, too: ‘The farm-workers engaged in piling the carts high with wraick have by no means easy task. The gathering of the sea-weed and its subsequent forking on to the vehicles involve work at once artful and trying. Knee-deep among the wraick, the hands toil right vigorously in raising huge masses from the level of the shore above their head and depositing them upon three stacks which constitute cartload. The physical labour involved is very heavy indeed.’

Holland died in 1920, the same year of the reported wrack harvest, but it is still possible that he completed the drawing in this year.

John Holland was the son of Samuel Holland, a house painter, sign writer and artist. Several members of his family were artists, as well as working in the family painting and decorating firm. He uncle taught him to work in charcoal, a medium with which he was to become most strongly identified in his later career.

Following his marriage in 1880 and a year living in London, the Holland family moved to the Isle of Man in 1883, first living in Port St Mary and then by 1891 moving to Douglas. Holland established himself as a prolific artist, specialising in large detailed charcoal drawings of contemporary Manx scenes such as this one - collecting wrack (seaweed) on the Douglas shore. These proved popular both as decoration for the new hotels being built on Douglas Promenade and as up-market souvenirs of the Isle of Man.

Measurements: artwork: 42 cm x 79 cm

Materials: paper : charcoal

Object name: Drawing

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-5801

Subject tags : #artgalleryplace


Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy

Linked Records