Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Image Not Available


Date: 1960-1962
Overall: 440 x 335 x 22 mm, 1.5 kg
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00027068
Place Manufactured:Papua New Guinea

User Terms

    These two watercolours in a single frame feature the SS MALAITA and were in 1960 and 1962 respectively. The top painting has a bow view of the SS MALAITA as it passes Eboma Island off Samarai, the lower painting shows SS MALAITA at sea in calm conditions.

    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 third mate on the MALAITA in 1934 when it carried cargo and passengers between Sydney and the Solomon Islands. He later served on MALAITA as second mate and in 1938 was Chief Officer. From 1953 to 54 and 1961 to 64 he was the Captain. In his work 'Navigators of the South Seas' Hilder describes how the ship suffered a run of bad luck, noting that the vessel touched the bottom three times in four successive voyages, two of these under Hilder's command.

    SS MALAITA was built for Burns Philp in Glasgow, Scotland and operated by the company from 1933 until 1965.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: MALAITA passing Eboma Islet off Samarai 15.12.60 and MALAITA

    Assigned title: SS MALAITA

    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.