Winter Exhibitions 2019 | Pilot Painter

Winter Exhibitions 2019 | Pilot Painter


Pilot Painter: the works of George Forsyth presented at the Fremantle Arts Centre City of Fremantle Art Collection Gallery is a selection of works from numerous collections including the National Trust WA, WA Museum and the City of Fremantle Art Collection. George Forsyth was one of the early Harbour Masters of Fremantle. That’s I’m talking about the 1870s. He had a role in the colonial government and the colonial operations of the port but he was also an amateur painter and consistently painted and drew various scenes and observations of the port life from 1875 up to the 1880s. He married a daughter of a convict and was quite forthright in his ways in dealing with the colonial government of the day and kind of fell foul of the polite politics of the ruling classes. Now the later part of his career he was quite active in painting pictures particularly of Fremantle harbour and of the boat crews and documented Rottnest in its early days. His images, many of his paintings say his watercolors and guaches capture vessels leaving Fremantle, rather heroic images of boats packed with crews making their way into headwinds, under different conditions and so on and heavy seas. The City of Fremantle Collection holds a number of watercolors by Forsyth, particularly of views of important buildings and and scenes from Rottnest and Fremantle, and these are rather small modest works but it wasn’t until a number of years ago through a process of inventory with the Civic collection that we were able to unearth an important oil painting by Forsyth. It’s a view of Fremantle Harbour prior to the development of the new port and after Forsyth had got the sack so it’s an image of, a retrospective image of the port long before it was developed, at a time when the rock bar across the mouth river was still intact. Well, I hope Pilot Painter will provide audiences with a introduction to the work of Forsyth, George Forsyth and help to tell the story of the relationship between Forsyth and his occupation as a Harbour Master.

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