Thursday, September 2, 2010

Portrait of a Hero

A portrait of my deceased friend, yachtsman Sir Peter Blake, has finally found a home at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. It gives me great pride to have played a role in this momentous occurrence. It’s been a long time coming.

Peter was one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever had spent time with – an unstoppable force of nature if I ever saw one. He was among the most accomplished and fearless yachtsman this world has ever seen.

His achievements are too numerous to mention, but he is best known for breaking the record for fastest voyage around the world (74 days 22 hours 17 minutes 22 seconds) as well as leading the New Zealand team to an America’s Cup Victory in 1995 and 2000. Peter personified “nothing is impossible.”

His life ended tragically in 2001 when he was murdered by pirates while on a trip to South America. At the time, he was conducting environmental research for the United Nations.

The painting, which was unveiled at the NZ Portrait Gallery on August 11, was painted 15 years ago by Dunedin artist James Paton. It depicts Peter accepting the America’s Cup back in 1995.

The Portrait Gallery’s director, Avenal McKinnon, had been looking to acquire a portrait of Sir Peter for many years. When Paton’s painting came to light, it was clear that she had found the work of art she had been looking for.

If you find yourself in Wellington anytime soon, you should pay a visit to the NZ Portrait Gallery at Shed 11 on the waterfront and take some time to remember a New Zealand legend.