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THE ARTIST

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Roger Morris was born in 1935 in Maidenhead, a town in the Thames Valley in England.  His father was a first-rate commercial artist and mother an excellent portrait artist.  Living on the banks of the Thames and much of the time in or on it he developed an enthusiasm for watercraft.  During W.W.II he attended various schools and completed his college education at Bembridge, a public school in the Isle of Wight and at the Thames Nautical Training College H.M.S.Worcester in the Thames.

The next three years were spent as apprentice deck officer for Furness Withy & Co. until he passed for 2nd.Mate in 1955 and then 1st.Mate in 1957.

  He married and, as life was grim in the U.K. at that time, he and his wife Kathleen and son emigrated to New Zealand.  He stayed at sea for a while and served his time for Master, but family commitments obliged him to leave seafaring and find employment ashore.  After working as a modeller and moulder for short period he obtained teaching qualifications specializing in art.  By the 1970’s he was considerably supplementing his income through painting marine subjects…necessary as he and Kathleen now had six children.

  Some of his work came to the notice of the publishers Bateman Ltd. NZ., who contracted his first book, Sail Change, a slim volume of paintings and vignettes of sailing ships that had visited New Zealand.   By this time he had a considerable knowledge of sailing vessels grounded on his Worcester training, sailing experiences and prolific reading.

In 1981 he went back to sea with the intention of completing his Master’s ticket but found seafaring had changed and the life pretty uninspiring.  He and Kathleen bought a 50ft yacht and moved aboard what was to be their home during the next three years. The Bounty Replica  had been built in New Zealand to feature in a new film of the epic story.  He was invited to join as First Mate and had to quickly learn the practical side of sailing an 18th.C vessel, including sending down masts and spars at sea and setting stun’sails.

 In 1984 Roger was appointed Master (his ticket serving as Master for ships up to 500 tons). and made the voyage from Whangarei to Los Angeles via Tahiti and Honolulu where the Bounty took second in line in the 1984 Olympic Tall Ships’ Parade.  He left the Bounty in L.A. and returned to New Zealand.

 Late in 1984 Roger and Kathleen bought a house on an island near Auckland and lived here for six years painting and writing.  During this time Roger completed his second fully illustrated  book  Pacific Sail, Four Centuries of Western Ships in the Pacific (Pub 1987. Bateman NZ and  International Marine Publishing, Maine).  An exhibition of paintings accompanied the launch of Pacific Sail.  In 1992 he published Atlantic Sail, Ten Centuries of U.S.A. market.)

  Most of the paintings and illustrations for Pacific Sail (50 substantial paintings an numerous illustrations) sold at exhibition in Auckland.  A similar number of Atlantic Seafarers illustrations sold in England, privately, to galleries and at auction. 

  He is now an accepted authority on sailing vessels and the history pertaining to them and is frequently consulted by organizations in NZ and overseas.

  From 1989 until recently he sailed the New Zealand National Maritime Museum’s brigantine Breeze as Senior Master.

For the past four years he has been a part time lecturer in Maritime History at Massey University, Auckland.

  Roger’s watercolour paintings sell at up to about $3500 NZ at top Auckland galleries and oils up to $7000.  He has frequent commissions from overseas.

 Since leaving the Bounty in 1984 his main source of income has been painting with writing and occasional modelling as demanded.


Worcester
Bounty. Reefing
              topsails