Eric : Jack of All Trades. Finalist in Lester Prize 2020
Updated: Oct 27
Eric Nidd was an intrepid individual whose life embraced so many places and occupations that he became a Jack of all Trades – the consummate problem solver. He left home for the sea at 15, ultimately sailing to all points of the globe including Antarctica. He was variously a diesel mechanic and electrician, an ambulance driver, an RAC break-down mechanic, postman, volunteer bushfire fighter, and occasional grumpy old man. He was also my father in law.
If you were marooned, car broken down, on a remote country track with a bushfire looming, you would hope for Eric to rattle over the horizon in his antique Land Rover to save the day. It was the sort of situation he would relish.
Painting Eric bought him vividly and warmly back into the room. It allowed me to reflect on a life that embraced challenges and loved little more than an impossible problem to solve - large or small. I painted him focussed on fixing something for someone: a joyous pastime.
Painting on board and scratching it back, gave me the effect that suited his face. The portrait is assembled in an old tobacco tin like the multitude that still crowd his shed - full of bits whose future usefulness only he could imagine.
Fragments selected for the portrait are tiny anchors to Eric’s maritime and terrestrial journeys. He ran out of time long before he ran out of parts and projects. RIP*
( *maybe less peace and a bit more problem solving)