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Steven, John

Born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Scottish parents where his father was a jute factory manager, John, who came to be known as Steve, was taken ‘home ‘ to Dundee at age 3 where he eventually went to school at the Harris Academy. At the age of 12 his education came to an end when war started in 1939 and the family moved to England.

In 1944 Steve volunteered to join the British Army (The Black Watch) and stayed in the Army at the end of the war. He served in India, Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus, Malaya/Singapore and British West Africa. One day while serving in Ghana Steve was given a packer’s slip from an English toffee tin with a girl’s name and address pencilled on the back. This was in 1954 and a pen-friendship followed, resulting in marriage to Brenda in 1957.

Two daughters were born to the couple and Steve left the army in 1962. Using his long service gratuity, he bought a passage on a Dutch liner to New Zealand and the little family settled in Wellington. After a variety of jobs, Steve started at Wellington Hospital’s Medical Records Department and Brenda became Ward Clerk in Ward 32 (Neurosurgery) where they both worked until retiring in the early 1990s.

Always interested in drawing and art, John joined the club in 1984. It was held in the then disused Miramar Fire Station, where the Public Library is now. He remembers past and present members including his great mate, George Linklater- who helped and encouraged him in the early years of his membership - George Short, Anne Radford, Margaret Christie, Elsie Nichol, Len Maxim, Audrey Griffin, Colin Dickie, Jeff Collings, Phil Dickson to name just a few.

He was a committee member for six years. The biggest change in the club was the building and occupation of the present Club Building and the increase in ratio of female members to males as years went by.

Steve considers himself more as an illustrator than an artist. He likes to envisage real events and to use his imagination as far as he can, referring to pictures for accuracy of details. “Art nowadays seem to
accept the use of copying from existing art works and photographs; these used to be frowned upon.” says Steve. “Club Membership was once approved by the Committee by the samples of an applicant’s work, which seems quite ridiculous now” he added.

“I suppose I’ve been influenced by almost every artist’s work I’ve looked at, particularly those who work in a realistic and carefully representative style. I don’t like or understand abstract or surreal paintings and have never tried it,” - he said.

Steve and Brenda now live happily in a retirement village where his current activities are making small air-dried clay figures and Googling lots of information on the iPad.” “Hopefully, my best work will be the next one”, he added.