3Aim of the LessonTo appreciate the art and designs from the Bargee community.To understand the history and culture of the Bargee communityTo produce a piece of art work that reflects the Bargee culture.
4HistoryCanals started to be built in the middle of the 18th century, around They were used to move heavy cargoes, such as coal between cities and towns. The families who ran the narrow boats up and down the canals were called Bargees or Water Gypsies.
5LegislationThe Canal Boats Act of 1877 stated that as part of health and safety legislation the families must maintain their boats to a high standard. This included the painting of the boats on a regular basis. This encouraged the Bargees to think about the colours and the designs they would use on their individual boats. The traditional designs were established.
7DecorationsThe Bargees developed a new system of traditional decorations. Different parts of the boat were painted in several colours. On to the plain colours they painted playing cards symbols, they especially liked diamond shapes. They then painted motifs of castles, flowers, stars, moons and ropes. Before long the decorations moved to buckets, flower pots and pans.
12DesignsWhy these designs became standard is a mystery. Ropes are an obvious choice, but why castles and roses should be so popular the reason is not clear. One thing is for sure that the Bargees liked bright colours and bold designs that were cheerful. All the designs were unique to each family. Every boat would display the family name.