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Date: 1931
Overall (frame): 380 x 685 x 74 mm, 2700 g
Sight: 240 x 535 mm
Medium: Paint, canvas, cotton thread, wooden frame, glazed
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Marie McIntyre
Object Name: Embroidery
Object No: 00048275

User Terms

    Ship portrait of SS MORINDA, embroidered on painted canvas, signed by Captain William Wilding, 1931, in original gilt frame.
    SignificanceEmbroidered ship paintings are rare and interesting examples of an art form mainly done by sailors. This is an excellent example by a well known Burns Philp line ship's master.
    HistoryCaptain William Wilding went to sea at a young age in the 1920s and by 1924 was the Quartermast on the SS LARGS BAY. In 1929 he obtained his Masters Certificate and joined the shipping company Burns Philp in 1930, remaining with the company until his retirement in 1963.

    During his career he was master on the ships MALAITA, MONTORO, BULOLO, MONTORO (II), BURNSIDE and MORINDA.

    Regarded by many as one of the most colourful masters of the time, Wilding's escapades in the Pacific became somewhat legendary. His knowledge of the Pacific meant he spent a period seconded to the US Navy during World War II. Wilding ran supplies from Sydney to Rabaul and ports in between in the MALAITA during the early phases of the war, then after working with the US Navy at Guadalcanal, captained the armed merchant ship MORINDA.

    Harry Gerard who joined the MALAITA in 1941 recalled Bill Wilding;

    'Another eye-opener was to see the Master, Captain Bill Wilding going out on to the reefs in a surf boat to collect tropical fish which were placed in several small tanks on the after deck for the ultimate delivery to the Aquarium at Taronga Park Zoo. The engineers had to ensure that sea water to the deck fair main and the fish tanks was uninterrupted, irrespective of engine room needs.'

    Wilding continued to collect fish for the Zoo aquarium after the war in the BULOLO and there is a plaque to his memory at the Zoo. Sir Edward Hallstrom apparently refered to Wilding as 'Sir William of Taronga'. Others knew him as 'Coconut Bill'.

    Wilding was a self taught artist and according to his family he gave his many embroidered pictures of his favourite ships to family and friends. Only a few remain.

    The MORINDA picture was a wedding gift to his daughter in 1932.

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