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Paintings depict steam coaster

PUBLISHED: 12:18 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:42 06 July 2010

PAINTINGS of the world's oldest complete steam coaster showing her in her heyday will be part of an exhibition by East Anglian artists in London next month.

PAINTINGS of the world's oldest complete steam coaster showing her in her heyday will be part of an exhibition by East Anglian artists in London next month.

The SS Robin, which is being restored at Small and Co in Lowestoft, provided the inspiration for Russ Foster's collection.

Mr Foster, 83, is a member of the East Anglian Group of Marine Artists, who show their works every two years in the capital.

His evocative paintings show the SS Robin casting off from the quay at night-time and sailing down the River Thames.

They also feature an appearance by Mr Foster's grandfather's ship, the Celerity, which was wrecked off Ness Point a century ago.

About 20 other artists from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex will also take part in the exhibition.

“It is a fascinating story - it's got a hell of a history,” said Mr Foster, from Fritton, who was in the merchant navy. “There were hundreds of that design and I actually went to sea on one like that, but the unique and wonderful thing is this is the last one.”

Mr Foster, who took up painting in his retirement, said three of his paintings show the ship in her heyday - one is based on when she was sold to Spain and the last one will show the ship in her current condition.

He said the early scenes were not easy and he had to put together snippets of information and use his imagination to portray the ship.

He has shown the paintings to David Kampfner, one of the founders of the SS Robin Trust which maintains the historic vessel, who was very impressed.

“I have always tried to paint scenes connected with the sea itself,” said Mr Foster. “I had read about the Robin coming to Lowestoft and thought this was a good subject to paint because it concerns East Anglia and reflects my time at sea and my memories.”

Last week, the Journal reported on the arrival at Lowestoft harbour from Poland of a huge pontoon which will form the basis for a floating museum showcasing the SS Robin when its restoration is complete.

When work is finished, the ship will be lifted onto the pontoon that will also act as a museum, and will be taken back to London.

SS Robin, which was built in 1890, is the last remaining steam coaster in the world.

The group's exhibition for 2010 is at the Mall Galleries for a week from Sunday, July 4. Call Mr Foster on 01493 488285 for further details.


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