The Art and the Story of Phil Whatmore
Phil’s life was ordinary in many ways but in other ways, quite extraordinary. While not famous or successful in traditional terms, Phil Whatmore, the artist, has left a legacy of beauty and complexity that fills the heart with joy. Donna Berthelsen
Phil’s interest in art commenced as a child. He loved his art. He had talent and he supplemented his talent for painting with study and learning. He kept painting all of his life.
Phil started skydiving in 1967, when he was 22 years old. He had talent as a skydiver and he supplemented these abilities by travelling overseas to compete in international skydiving championships. He was on his way to achieving his ambitions to be a world champion.
Phil had a major parachuting accident in 1976. He suffered severe injuries. He was permanently crippled. His reaction to his new reality was despair, anger and frustration.
Phil was ‘born again’ in the early 1990s. Phil found God and his son, Jesus. Phil changed. Reality remained but despair and frustration were replaced with love and appreciation, and instead of anger, he felt gifted with a deep commitment to Jesus. Through all this time, Phil never complained. He never stopped painting. He never stopped skydiving. And he practised what he preached.
Phil left many representations of his life and the contexts in which he lived. Phil’s artwork provides some message about how through art we communicate about life. He continues to speak to us clearly. We can hear his voice, feel his pain, relate to his vision and, above all, appreciate his talent. Donna Berthelsen