Two new paintings boost Creswell’s historic collection

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), ABIS Jesse Rhynard (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Creswell, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Creswell, Naval Heritage and History, HMAS Melbourne (II), HMAS Voyager (II)

Mr Bob Auston, left, and Mr Barry Brooks with a painting of HMAS Voyager that was donated to the RAN Historical Collection at HMAS Creswell. (photo: ABIS Jesse Rhynard)
Mr Bob Auston, left, and Mr Barry Brooks with a painting of HMAS Voyager that was donated to the RAN Historical Collection at HMAS Creswell.

The Historic Collection at HMAS Creswell is made up of a diverse range of fascinating objects, each telling a story of HMAS Creswell from a different perspective.

The value of the collection cannot be calculated solely on monetary or historical significance, other considerations are the craftsmanship involved in their creation and most importantly, the provenance of the items and the often intensely personal stories their history reveals.

Two paintings of HMAS Voyager (II) and HMAS Melbourne (II), telling a very personal and tragic story, were recently donated to the collection by Mr Bob Auston who served on HMAS Voyager from early 1960 to January 1964.

On 10 February 1964, one month after Mr Auston left Voyager to take up a posting at HMAS Cerberus, Voyager and Melbourne tragically collided off Jervis Bay with the loss of 82 brave souls, many of whom Mr Auston had worked with and counted as close friends.

Earlier this year, Mr Auston attended the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tragedy and it was then that he decided that the Creswell Historic Collection would be the ideal home for the two paintings he had personally commissioned.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Creswell Captain Stephen Hussey RAN, accepts the donation of some artwork on behalf of the RAN Historical Collection at HMAS Creswell.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Creswell Captain Stephen Hussey RAN, accepts the donation of some artwork on behalf of the RAN Historical Collection at HMAS Creswell.

“These paintings were intended as a reminder for future generations,” Mr Auston said.

“Accidents do happen and there is always a lesson to be learnt. I hope that these works offer future officers in training at Creswell the opportunity to pause and reflect,” he said.

The artist that painted the works, Barry Brooks, was also at Creswell to see his them gifted to the collection. Mr Brooks, who served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1965-1985, has been painting for 30 years. He recalls that he took a lot of time prior to starting these two particular works.

“I like to get involved with the painting to ensure that all aspects of the subject are correct and in dimension. It has been particularly pleasing for me to hear from the survivors of the Melbourne/Voyager collision that my interpretation of the event is an accurate one.”

Creswell Historical Collection Curator, Ms Ailsa Chittick, said one of the strengths of the collection was donations such as these.

“These paintings are obviously very important to Mr Auston. He commissioned them with a definite purpose and for him to now present them to us makes them invaluable.

“I think this bequest, as with many others we have received, represents a means of closure and I certainly encourage anyone who visits the collection to look not only at the objects on display but to also to also consider the personal histories behind them.”

The new display at the Historic Collection at HMAS Creswell is due for completion in June 2015 in time for the 100th anniversary celebration.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141230.