Ladies in Waiting
By Sandy Myhre
If British illustrator Michael Turner is considered the master of motoring and motor racing paintings, New Zealand’s Don Packwood would surely come a close second, if not an equal.
The difference between the two is that Don Packwood remains in New Zealand and is, therefore arguably, not so well known. His artistic representation of the motorised form, however, is considered by those who know his work as truly of international standard. In fact, and as an indication of the benchmark he reaches, he has exhibited in the UK, USA and Australia in addition to his home country.
Don began painting in oils from the age of eight and specialised, years later, in motor sport subjects. He is totally self-taught and works full time. Most of his work is by private commission from motor racing enthusiasts or from collectors. He has been commissioned by industry people, the Bruce McLaren Trust, Child Cancer Foundation and Karting New Zealand, as examples.
Although most of his art works cover what is considered a male-dominated sport and industry, he doesn’t restrict himself to that and has painted other scenes – of yachts, people, planes and plants. A recently-posted image on Facebook is a beautifully crafted whimsical depiction of a particular era.
Called Ladies In Waiting, the work was completed in 2005 and is reminiscent of a series of posters commissioned by Louis Vuitton, depicting what’s considered the classic era of motoring and featuring not only classic and historic cars but elegantly dressed women of the Belle Époch, a period in Western Europe roughly dating from around 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Having said that, Don says he is “totally ignorant” of the Louis Vuitton series of advertising posters and the inspiration for his painting came after he visited a unique and large private collection of Rolls Royce vehicles belonging to Richard Langridge of Auckland.
“I photographed many of the cars and although the car in this painting, which is a 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom 11 drop-head coupé wasn’t part of that particular collection in Auckland it had always inspired me.”
He says a work of this nature would, in most part, be completed in two-four weeks before adding that age-old creative poser “do artists ever consider a painting finished?”
Sadly, Ladies In Waiting is not for sale. It’s believed to be in the Napier area after it was sold by the east coast city’s Quay Gallery, an exhibition and sale space Don has contributed to over a number of years. It’s one of three galleries that handle his work and more of his works of this narrative are offered through the Queenstown Gallery of Fine Art.
“They enjoy my art. I have been commissioned to produce works of this type and have a few pieces on offer.”
He says prospective clients may have to wait “a few weeks” before he can deliver but such is the demand for his work that a hiatus period of patience doesn’t enter the equation.
For more information – and to view motoring and other subjects by the artist: