Jim was born in 1936 and grew up in a seaside suburb of Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand. His father was a competitive sailor, his mother the daughter of another competitive sailor. The northerly course weather mark of the local yacht club was across the road from the sun porch window of the family home. His sporting fate was sealed!
Apart from art and English studies his school days were notable for detentions as discipline for drawing yachts in his math exercise books. His desire to be a commercial artist suffered through his lack of application and achievement at college and he became apprenticed to a small sign writing business. One of the directors of the company was a scenic artist and Jim had his first ‘artistic’ experience painting backdrops in a local theatre. Jim reversed his school exam record by gaining highest marks in New Zealand in his sign writing Trade Certificate examination.
In his twenties he gained an interest in motor racing at club level, then turned to motor sport photography, working as a ‘stringer’ for a Wellington newspaper. He also wrote and photographed yachting events for the same newspaper.
His yachting interest led him to Hood Sailmakers and opening a sales and repair loft in Wellington. This connection led to some great experiences sailing on top -line racing yachts and crewing with some of the great names of the 1970’s.
His lifetime hobby of sketching finally became a serious painting career when in 1995, the New Zealand challenger NZL 38,”Black Magic” won the America’s Cup. “That was the catalyst.” He says, “I knew then that I had to start recording our little countries great sailing achievements. I didn’t know if anyone else would want to look at them, but at least I could hang them on my walls!”
Well, other people did want to look at them. They started buying them. “Not a flood of buyers in the beginning, you understand, but it was enough to keep me at the easel. I have a lot of paintings to do and not a lot of years left to do them all!” he say’s with a grin.
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