New Year’s Day 1788 Reimagined
The story of First Fleeter James Morrisby is powerful. It has a strong emotional connection to the past and present owners of the Fairview Art collection who are his direct descendants.
Could Morrisby’s story be captured in an oil painting? If so, who would be best placed to do so?
With these questions in mind, emerging Perth artist Jarrad Martyn was commissioned in mid-2020 to paint the scene onboard the Scarborough as it battled the storm on New Year’s Day in 1788 in honour of James Morrisby.
“I was really interested in the figures in the stormy landscape and wanted to convey the panic of a ship being caught in a storm in a rugged sea. I’ve depicted a scene right at the front of the ship where the convicts are interacting with the guards in their red coats as the storm is about to break and then pass and, in the distance, you can see the snow on top of Mt Wellington indicating it was quite close to shore. So, I was trying to convey some of that harshness, some of that quick thinking that was required in a chaotic situation like this. The idea that nature is coming for us.”
Martyn was born in 1991 in Aberdeen Scotland to a teacher’s assistant Trish and Doug, a helicopter pilot.
Whilst completing an Honours Degree in Fine Art at Curtin University, Martyn demonstrated his artistic talent by interpreting images of disasters found in newspapers and online.
He used paintings to create a more sympathetic meaning and interpretation of those traumatic scenes. His thesis explored the fact we become desensitised to trauma through the exposure to many media images and his artwork helps bridge this psychological divide and provide more meaning.
Since graduating Martyn has won a slew of art prizes including the coveted John Stringer Prize.
His practice explores how different moments in history have been framed and how we engage with spaces after they have become abandoned. Through painting and installation, Martyn employs the principles of bricolage, 'something constructed from a diverse range of things', to bring together imagery and research to create a more conversational meaning of the history being explored. The use of paint, which slips in-between figuration and expressionism encourages the audience to look longer to try and deduce what is unfolding and to ultimately consider how complicit they are prepared to be in that framing.
“I’ve also been thinking about how to use colour as a focal point and breaking it up into four tonal areas, from lightest light to darkest dark. If you look at the picture, there is an emphasis on both the landscape and the main figure being the centre beam of the lightest light and therefore the centre of the most drama. Colour in my art practice provides a sense of perspective and a focus on traditional realism in producing an interesting image rather than depicting reality.”
Martyn’s work is in many private and public collections, including the University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University, Bunbury Regional Galleries, Curtin University Art Collection and the City of Perth. Martyn has exhibited in a number of art awards, most significantly winning the 2018 John Stringer Art Prize and the City of Joondalup Community Invitation Art Award Overall Acquisitive Award.
“I want to give viewers that sense of drama of being on a ship going to new lands. With the sky there is that romantic quality so also that sense of escapism that comes with using techniques from the old masters. It’s not entirely about negativity, it is also about positivity and possibilities. My work is about creating conversations.”
Martyn’s work New Year’s Day 1788 achieves this and is an important historic piece within the Fairview collection by a contemporary West Australian artist.
Listen to his podcast here.
Rev. Thomas Percy Wood (1854-1937) South Australian Artist
The one-time rector of St. Stephen's Anglican Church in Willunga, South Australia, the Rev.
Thomas Percy Wood was a talented maritime watercolourist. His work Middle Harbour Sydney hangs in the Fairview Collection, He retired to Walkerville Terrace, a leafy street of Walkerville in Adelaide, close to where Fairview owner Thomas Murrell grew up. Rev. Wood had been living there when he died aged 83 in 1937.
Thomas Wood was born in Liverpool and arrived in South Australia by the ship Sarata in 1884. He served at St. Peter’s at Robe in South Australia’s southeast, and was rector at St. Mary's Wallaroo, before he went to Willunga where he remained for 20 years. While in the district Rev. Wood was responsible for the building of St. Margaret's at McLaren Vale. He was prominent in the local Red Cross and Cheer Up societies during the World War I and was President of the local Agricultural Society for 18 years.
Mr. Wood’s son, the Rev. Percy Wood of Norton's Summit is also a notable South Australian artist. Of four grandsons, two Mr. Rex Wood, of Adelaide and Mr. Noel Wood, of North Queensland, are also artists. Rev. Wood’s burial service was conducted by the Bishop of Adelaide, the Right Rev. Dr. A. Nutter Thomas at the North Road Cemetery assisted by Canon R. P. Hewgill.
Reverend Thomas Wood was educated in England, serving as a Church of England priest there and in Madras before arriving in Australia in 1884. In 1887 he became incumbent at Robe and Kingston. In 1902, as the rector at Paskeville, he was described in the local press as an energetic and social member of the community who worked hard to improve the district and the church. For example, when Mr. Wood took charge of the parish the debt on the church was more than £200 but owing to the pastor's energy this had been cleared off, the church thoroughly repaired, and debt extinguished.
Seeking a change of climate that would improve his wife, Margaret’s, failing health, the family sought a transfer from the Paskeville parish to St Stephen's Church Willunga, where his enduring involvement in community and church affairs continued. Unfortunately, Margaret died about eight months after they moved to Willunga and is buried in St Stephen’s cemetery. Later, Rev Wood married Emily Mellor, who became the ‘Mrs T Wood’, who, with her husband, enjoyed local dances and exhibited successfully in a variety of classes at the Willunga Show. Rev. Wood was a member of the Show Committee and President in 1910.
During his time as Rector at Willunga, the second church of St Stephen was consecrated, on 3 July 1902, by Bishop John Reginald Harmer, Bishop of Adelaide. As a trusted member of the community, he became a member of the Board of Advice for the Willunga Public School, a local body that ensured that aspects of the Education Act were applied in schools.
During World War 1, Rev Wood frequently featured as a speaker at patriotic gatherings and was central to the farewells and returns of many of the local men who served in the war, acting as Cheer Up Society chairman. In this capacity and utilizing his artistic talents, he unveiled the Cheer Up Society Collage of Willunga men who left for the war.
Rev. Wood left Willunga in 1921 for the Adelaide Diocese. He died in 1937 aged 83.
His grandson, Thomas Percy Reginald Wood (known as Rex Wood) had a celebrated career as an artist and art writer but met an unfortunate death. He was born in Laura, South Australia on 6 April 1906. His birth was registered at Clare, South Australia. He was the eldest of four boys born to Rev. Tom Percy Wood (1880-1957) and Fannie née Newbury (1880-1969). He was brother to Jack Newbury Wood (8 November 1907 - 1989), Dean Charlton Wood (8 July 1910 - 27 February 1998) and Noel Herbert Wood (1 February 1912 - 10 November 2001). Noel Wood was also an artist. As mentioned, their grandfather Rev. Thomas Percy Wood (14 April 1855 - 12 November 1937) was an Anglican Minister in South Australia and an accomplished watercolourist.
Rex Wood studied painting at the South Australian School of Art under Mary Packer Harris (1891–1978), and was soon recognised as a pre-eminent realist in a wide variety of mediums. He was represented in a number of exhibitions alongside such luminaries as Ivor Hele and Hans Heysen. He began acting as art critic for The News in 1934, and his one-man exhibition in 1935 was well received. He had another exhibition in 1937, at the eve of his departure for England and the Continent. He studied at the Anglo-French Art Centre at St Johns Wood and the Southampton Row School of Art. He spent much of the war years in Portugal, maintaining some contact with Australia, sending the occasional column to The News, and purchasing some works for the Art Gallery of South Australia. He visited Australia in the mid-1950s, then went back to Portugal, where he died in Estoril around 24 January 1970. He was missing for three weeks before his drowned body was recovered from the sea. A Portuguese manservant, 24, was charged with murder by pushing Rex Wood off a cliff.
The work of Rev. Thomas Wood and his links to Walkerville South Australia is a worthy part of the Fairview Art Collection.
Charles Eddows Turner (British, 1883-1965)
Charles Eddowes Turner was born in Lancaster on the 14 September 1883 and described by E.H.H. Archibald in his Dictionary of Sea Painters (1982)as "a reticent man, it is difficult to find out much about him".
He was based in Liverpool and specialised in landscape and marine views. Proficient in watercolours and oils, Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as well as Manchester and Liverpool. Turner fought in both the First and Second World Wars, as a captain in the Fleet Air Arm, combining active service with service as a war artist, signing his work C.E. Turner. Inter-war Turner had developed series of illustrations for Thomas Forman and Cunard, becoming a ‘series of excellent postcards’.
Turner worked for for commercial clients including Dunlop Tyres and Churchill Cigar Boxes but his best-known work, however, dates from the two wars. Alongside paintings demonstrating his first-hand experience of combat he produced illustrations for Illustrated London News and Sphere magazines. These included ‘closely observed and highly detailed’ naval actions, which presented ‘a heightened sense of the drama of events such as this, and these appeared as double-page spreads’.
Frank Witton recalled that in 1943 Turner by then aged sixty joined HMS Woolston at Rosyth on one of the East Coast Convoys to Sheerness on the Thames Estuary and back. He was a guest of the officers in their quarters at the stern. The fine painting on the left (Oil on canvas, NMM BHC 3731, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London) with Woolston approaching the Forth Bridge with its pennant number clearly visible on her stern dates from this time.
For many years he lived at Looe in Cornwall and he died on April 14 1965. Many of his oil and watercolour paintings of the two World Wars are preserved in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, London, and at the IWM, London. You can see a slideshow of 21 of his paintings on the "Your Paintings" web site established by the BBC in partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation
Charles E. Turner was an artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and specialised in landscape and marine views. Having served in the Royal Air Force in the First World War, reaching the rank of Captain, Turner worked as a war artist during 1939-45.
Turner painted pictures of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth for Cunard, which were made into a series of popular postcards. He also designed for Churchill Cigar Boxes, and, alongside paintings demonstrating his first-hand experience of combat, produced illustrations for Illustrated London News and Sphere magazines.
Many of his oil and watercolour paintings of the two World Wars are preserved in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, London, and at the Imperial War Museum, London.