Curator Marea Buist holds the work Leafy Seahorse.
Curator Marea Buist holds the work Leafy Seahorse.

Artist?s identity baffles museum

By ADRIAN MILLER

WHO was artist J.T.P?

The Fish in a Frame exhibition of watercolour marine life paintings completed by the artist early last century has opened at the Yamba museum.

Exhibition organisers believe the paintings are by a man.

Completed around 1900, and still in reasonably good condition, the paintings were donated to the museum after being found in a box which belonged to the late Frank O'Grady, a former proprietor of the Pacific Hotel at Yamba.

Yamba museum curator Marea Buist said the identity of the artist had her baffled.

"The artists initials are J.T.P, but we have no idea who he is," she said.

"We've made enquiries to the Australian Museum and they can't help me. I've done research on the web but still nothing. We have no idea, but we are hoping to find out."

Mrs Buist said the quality of the paintings, and the detail given in each one, suggested the artist was more than a painter.

"Because there is so much detail on all the paintings ? you've got a scale, the proper name plus the common name, what sort of eating they are and also a description of them ? I would assume the person was more than a painter," she said.

"I would almost go to the point he could have been a marine artist. He could have been a fisherman, but for those times he seems to be too educated to be a fisherman. But we don't really know."

Mrs Buist said the age of the paintings could hinder her efforts to discover the real identity of the artist.

"It would be great if we could track J.T.P down but because the paintings are so old, anyone who might have known could now be dead," she said.

Mrs Buist said the paintings contain a range of marine life, such as fish, eels, sharks and octopuses. They are numbered, but some numbers are missing and some are repeated, indicating the collection might not be complete.

There is no discernible pattern as to why certain fish and other marine life are depicted, as fish from New South Wales, Queensland and overseas are included.

Donated in 2001, the collection comprises 223 paintings, 11 framed and on display at any one time, with a folder displaying the unframed paintings. The Fish in a Frame exhibition will run all year and was made possible with a grant from the Australian National Maritime Museum.



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