Tugs focus of artist’s work

Christina Morrison

Christina Morrison

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A Seaspan Victoria Shipyards employee has launched an ambitious art project: to paint all the tugboats on the west coast of British Columbia.

Christina Morrison is a local artist who confesses she has a quirky, life-long passion for tugboats. She estimates there are approximately 400 tugs in B.C. and that her project may take 15 years or longer to complete, but she is determined to make it happen.

“We live on an island and these boats are essential to our existence,” she says. “I think tugboats are an important part of our maritime community and shipping industry. The scope of businesses and harbour operations they support is truly remarkable.”

Since May, Morrison has been reaching out to the maritime community for photographs of tugs to use as reference material for her paintings, which she does in acrylic on gallery wrapped canvass.

“A lot of the owners think it’s really cool that I want to paint their tugs. Moving the project forward is really about getting connected with everyone in the maritime community and tugboat owners.”

She completed her first painting in May of local tugboat Esquimalt II and has since painted 10 more tugs. Four of the paintings, including the Esquimalt II, have sold but are on hold until her art show next summer. The asking price is affordable for original artwork – between $500 and $900.

She prides herself on her attention to detail.

“People in the maritime community are very passionate about their boats and complete accuracy in my paintings is a must.”

In her queue are the 10 vessels of Queen’s Harbour Master. She has collected images of Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessels (CFAV) Tillicum (YTM 555), Glendyne (YTB 640) and Glendale (YTB641); although she is looking for better quality images so she can capture their true beauty.

The 43-year-old works as a Production Clerk at Seaspan’s Admiral’s Road location. She has been around the sea most of her life, growing up in Sooke.

“When I look out over the water and see a tugboat it’s heart-wrenching in a good way and puts me in a state of wonder. Tugboats make me happy. When I was younger looking out over Sooke Harbour at the tugboats at work, they brought me such peace and calm, and it remains the same today.”

She has been drawing and sketching since “the age I could hold a pencil.” Seven years ago, when she decided to put her fascination with tugs on canvas, she took classes at Victoria’s Coast Collective Art Centre. Her first eight charcoal sketches of old wooden boats were displayed at the centre’s art gallery. She was pleasantly surprised they were accepted.

To meet her goal of painting every west coast tug, she needs people in the marine world to send her images and a brief description of the tug.

“Boat owners are not required to buy my paintings. Although many of them are so enthralled with my project they become interested in my art and end up buying my paintings,” she says.

Tugboat owners can review her work at www.christinamorrisonart.com; to send images, her contact information is also on her website.


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  1. Jean Dickinson says:

    Thank you for the delightful photo Christina Morrison!! I spent many hours on the Fraser River as a Child, hopping around on log booms, near Marpole where I grew up. You have taken me back to the most wonderful times!!

  2. Hello

    I curate the website victoriaharbourhistory.com and would like to touch base with Christina about her project.


  3. Heather Parker says:

    Christina should try to see if she can find a photo of ” The Captain Bob “. Such a great tug.

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