Rare arts in the spotlight

The Taxidermist, Ashlee Duggan. (Keren Dobia) 233775_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

Crafting a wooden boat is like making something that’s fighting you the whole way, says fifth generation Williamstown boat builder Greg Blunt.

He is among those featured in the I AM. exhibition by award-winning photographer Keren Dobia, launching this month at The Outside Gallery in Newport’s Paine Reserve.

It’s the latest Art and Industry Festival project, showcasing rare arts and skills.

Mr Blunt, whose Williamstown business C. Blunt Boat Builders, said he believed his family started making wooden boats in the 1840s.

“Boat building being an art, it is pretty tricky,“ he said.

“There’s a lot in it, it’s difficult wrestling with wood.

“You’re making something that’s fighting you the whole way.

“We like the challenge. It’s hard, so we do it.“

Mr Blunt’s son, Kaden, is keeping the art alive as a sixth generation wooden boat builder.

“We’re kind of living in the past,“ he said.

“It’s a good product – boats last 80 years.

“Steel boats last 25 years-max, fibreglass glass boats start to fall to bits after about 30 but timber boats, we’ve got them in our yard – they’re 120 years old.

“In 2004, the government heritage listed our place and they said to me that if we’re stood still long enough, they’d list me.“

Art and Industry Festival director Donna Jackson said the exhibition celebrated people’s crafts and skills.

“I think that Greg Blunt is a great example of a craftsperson who has a very particular skill, which is important to the history of Hobsons Bay,“ she said.

“It tells the story about our area and our region and how lucky we are to live in the industrial heartland of Australia.

“We live by the sea and we have lots of highly-skilled artists and crafts people.“

I AM. will be launched on Saturday, April 24, from 5.30-6.30pm with live music.

Register for the free event at iam-theoutsidegallery2021.eventbrite.com.au.

It runs until September.