CLAUDE MUNCASTER (1903 - 1974)
The Olivebanks Galley
Country: United Kingdom
Literature: Claude Muncaster, Rolling Round the Horn, London, 1933, illus.op.p.50.
Medium: Watercolour and chalks
Claude Muncaster was born in West Chiltington, Sussex. Originally name Grahame Hall, he changed his name by deed-poll in order to avoid confusion with his father, the Royal Academician, Oliver Hall. He first came to notice with his views of London and the Docks, some of which were commissioned by City firms and exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1925 his Demolition of Hays Wharf was purchased by the Tate Gallery and in the following year he was to hold his first one-man show at the Fine Art Society. In 1931 he was elected an Associate member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours, becoming a full member in 1936. From 1940-44 he served in the R.N.V.R. advising on camouflage and in 1946-7 he received a major commission to paint a series of watercolours of Royal residences. Particularly known for his marine subjects and views of the Sussex countryside, works by him are in a number of public collections. He lived in Pulborough, Sussex. In his account of the life on board Olivebank he described the difficulties of working in the galley: “”¦ I never envied the Cook, who, apart from being the butt of everyone’s derision, continually toiled under most adverse conditions. Having regard to the limited materials at his disposal, I consider he made a praiseworthy performance. If the soup lacked sugar or fruit, he could scarcely be blamed for having kept within his allowed ration: he had to manage as best he could. Often he would be working waist-deep in water, and just when he had got his fire nicely burning with the grub boiling, over would swoop an ugly sea into the galley, putting out fire, washing pots and pans on to the deck, and generally causing ruination. Many a man would have been discouraged for good, but time after time he would set to again, have the fire going once more, and then meet with a similar disaster; yet I cannot once remember that he failed to supply us with something hot that was not ready to the minute. Nominally, it was from 6 am to 8 pm that he worked: actually, the period was often longer. It was the same for him on Saturdays and Sundays, for men continued to be hungry and expected to be fed. If he was washed out during heavy weather, in the tropics his galley became such a furnace that he was all but roasted alive. That man certainly was less an idler than a hero. On him depended largely the temper of the crew, for however cold and miserable a sailor may be, let the cook supply something hot and the sailor becomes completely transformed.”� (Rolling Round the Horn, p.52-3)