John Craske, a Norfolk fisherman, was born in 1881. In 1917, when he had just turned thirty-six, he fell seriously ill and for the rest of his life moved in and out of what was described as ‘a stuporous state’. In 1923 he started making paintings of the sea and boats and the coastline seen from the sea. Later, when he was too ill to stand and paint, he turned to embroidery, which he could do from his bed. His embroideries were also of the sea, including his masterpiece, The Evacuation of Dunkirk.
Julia Blackburn’s stunning, beautifully -produced account of his life is far from a conventional biography. Instead it is a quest which takes her in many strange directions – to fishermen’s cottages in Sheringham, a grand hotel fallen on hard times in Great Yarmouth and the isolated Watch House far out in the Blakeney estuary; to Cromer and the bizarre story of Einstein’s stay there, guarded by dashing young women in jodhpurs with shotguns. Unmissable.