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Port Swettenham, Malaysia

Date: 9 September 1946
Overall: 323 x 272 x 16 mm, 0.7 kg
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00027066
Place Manufactured:Kelang

User Terms

    This watercolour depicts Port Swettenham (renamed Port Klang) in Malaysia and shows typical Malaysian workboats moored on the waterfront beside the settlement of Port Swettenham.

    SignificanceThis painting is representative of the work by prolific amateur painter Brett Hilder, a seaman with Burns Philp and Company. His work offers a valuable and comprehensive record of the experiences of mariners working on commercial vessels between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Melanesia from the 1930s through to the 1960s.
    HistoryBrett Hilder born in 1911 was the youngest son of renowned watercolourist Jesse Jewhurst Hilder. In 1927 he became a crew member on ships owned by Burns Philp & Co. He traveled extensively to the Dutch East Indies and South Pacific Islands, and eventually became a ship's master. During WWII he taught navigation to Australian air crew and attained the rank of Wing Commander. He flew on Catalina flying boats for the Royal Australian Air Force. After the war Hilder resumed his career as a merchant sea-captain.

    During the war Hilder started painting watercolours depicting landscapes, details and portraits of the people and places he visited. He also wrote extensively about navigation and his travels for magazines such as 'Walkabout'. Hilder is the author of numerous books on his own experiences and in 1966 published 'The Heritage of JJ Hilder' a book about his father's art career. This accompanied a national touring exhibition of his father's work organised by the Queensland Art Gallery. Brett Hilder passed away in April 1981.

    Hilder was appointed Chief Officer on the SS MANGOLA in 1946. The ship went to Port Swettenham on the west coast of Malay near Kuala Lumpur to collect rubber. The SS MANGOLA was built at Cockatoo Island in Sydney NSW in 1920 and owned by Burns Philp from 1925 to 1957.
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