After Angus (Gus) and Jessica (Isa) were born I had to get a real job. I did the Wellington muso thing and was a postie for a spell and then, finding it wasn’t for me, I fell into painting and decorating.
I was taught the trade by a wiley old painter – Bob. This was pre ‘87 crash and we formed a partnership and got lots of work. We needed painters – all my mates were musicians, actors and artists. I wound up hiring bass players. Rob Mahoney, Chris Orange and Barry Stockly. Also my artist friend – Margaret Feeney.
I had this great gig at the City Art Gallery. For seven years, every three months or so, I would come in and repaint one or all of the galleries. While they were pulling down one and putting up another show I would paint out the walls in the next colours. I painted the floors of the upper level and the stairs a couple of times a year.
When it had been the Wellington City Library I had devoured its books and knowledge – now it was stripped back for the visual arts. What a great space.
This was when Paula Savage was director and there were some fantastic exhibitions through.
Keith Herring show – I painted that old library in all the primary colours and then some.
Just to be able to walk and work amongst Rothko, McCann and Fomison. Frida Karlo. Patrica Puccini. The Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly series.
Late one night, I was there alone painting the huge west to east gallery black. It was for a Len Lye exhibition and several of the works were there already.
These things just started talking to me.
One would go off down the other end of the huge room and start talking to the one beside me where I’m painting – then that one would start moving and talking and set off another one. Great art never sleeps
The last show I worked on there was a Stanley Spencer exhibition – one of my very favourite artists.
I had the great pleasure of tour guiding Jane Bowron’s wonderful late mother Faye through a history of the great man’s work.
Every Guy Fawkes and New Year we would watch the fireworks from the roof of that great old building.
To read War Stories # 1 click here