Dressed for the Occassion, by Susan Tiller
Susan Tiller recreated and enhanced a valuable piece of Georgetown history with her painting titled “Dressed for the Occasion,” which is featured on the 2013 Wooden Boat Show poster.
Tiller’s painting is based on a historic black and white photo of the pilot boat W.D. Morgan taken on Dec. 19, 1905, when Georgetown celebrated its incorporation centennial with a street parade and a boat parade. (Pilot boats help guide ships into harbors.) The boat’s namesake owner, W.D. Morgan, was a much beloved mayor of Georgetown from 1892-1906, and he used the pilot boat as a yacht.
The old photo shows the boat’s masts festooned with international signal flags; each colorful flag represents a letter of the alphabet. Such adornment was a common way for boats to be “dressed” for special events. Susan Sanders, director of the S.C. Maritime Museum, helped Tiller decipher each flag from the slightly blurred photo so she could accurately depict them in her painted interpretation. Tiller’s artistic style is “between realistic and impressionistic,” and she worked off and on for months capturing the boat and its flags with historic accuracy while offering beautiful impressions of the momentous occasion. “I wanted to capture the temperature of that chilly December day,” she said. “I also wanted to capture the feel of that classic old sailboat, and I wanted it to look like it could have been painted in 1905.”