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Varnamtown: An Aging Life

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Varnamtown: An Aging Life
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Varnamtown: An Aging Life The men and women in the little fishing towns of North Carolina have made their living from the sea for centuries. Varnamtown is one of these small dying fishing communities along the eastern coast of North Carolina. Unfortunately, this way of life is rapidly disappearing and an important chapter in our history will soon be lost with little visual record of its existence. The Varnamtown project mission is to preserve on canvas, for future generations, the visual history of this way of life.


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Varnamtown: An Aging Life


The number of individual fishermen in our nation’s small fishing towns is decreasing rapidly as their children leave behind the fishing life for the university and the city. Some of these towns may not survive another generation, as they are now, and will simply become memories.

Fishing has always been at the heart of Varnamtown.  However, if the town is to survive, it will need to undergo dramatic change and the old way of life may be gone forever.

Before that happens, I want to capture the authenticity of this way of life: the docks, the boats, the markets, the bringing in of the catch, the people, the ties to the sea and the heart and personality of this people so tied to the whims of the ocean and the weather gods. 

Until recently, over ninety percent of the men and women of Varnamtown made their living off the water. That number has been reduced to a small fraction. These who are left spend long days, often in hostile elements, to bring their catch to market. They compete with commercial fisherman and still hold their own, putting food on the table and a roof over their head.

The culture of Varnamtown is not unique but it is emblematic of a culture that is shared by small coastal towns and villages around the world. To capture the life in Varnamtown is to reflect on similar lives everywhere.

Through this project, I want to create a dialogue between historical societies and traditional fishing, to show the importance of the preservation of heritage, and to create dialogue through painting.

I use both acrylics and watercolors to capture the images of this romantic and hard life.

The Varnamtown project mission is to preserve on canvas, for future generations, the visual history of this way of life.

This non-profit project will support the creation of:

  • 20 acrylic paintings
  • 15 to 20 watercolors, painted on location
  • A traveling exhibit across North Carolina
  • Giclée prints  The book will be available at the culmination of the Varnamtown project.
  • A portion of the sales of the paintings, prints and the book will go to Varnamtown and the Brunswick County Historical Society.

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