Bib Stilwell, now deceased, was a very well-known Melbourne businessman of many parts, not the least being a major motor dealer.
At the time of the paintings he was establishing a major new agency for Jaguar cars at Doncaster and this included building a very up-to-date showroom. He was familiar with my work through his participation with the Kew Rotary Club both a sponsor and buyer.
Bib in his younger days had been a very successful racing car driver and had at one stage imported a very fast and exotic ‘D Type’ Jaguar and had raced it in many places including at Albert park in the 1956 Australian Grand Prix.
For this new showroom I painted a series of paintings of great moments in Jaguar history. These, five in number, included Bib in an XK 120 Jaguar at the Rob Roy Hillclimb at Christmas hills and Bib leading the field in the ‘D Type’ at Albert Park.
Other paintings included the ‘Walkinshaw’ Jaguars dominating Bathurst the year they came out here, a ‘C Type’ plus other great cars and drivers in the famous ’24 Hours at Le Mans’ at twilight and Mark II Jaguar saloons racing in the wet at Silverstone, England.
This painting I am very proud of and the name ‘Silverstone’ painted on the roof of the main grandstand fitted in well with the new dealership.
With the exception of the Rob Roy painting which is slightly smaller all the paintings measure 4’ x 6’ OR 120 x 180cm, which is much larger than my usual work and each painting involved an exceptional amount of research from the many books and magazines available.
Authenticity became an obsession as to the details of each car and driver, time of day and season, details around each racetrack such as crowd dress and numbers, tow trucks, ambulances etc. Each painting was based on an actual race and I was grateful for a number of suggestions as to improvements regarding accuracy, in particular my son Matthew, my wife Denise and members of the Vintage Sports Car Club.
Each painting is painted in oil on stretched linen canvas. The original composition was drawn in charcoal and sealed before the oil was applied. On occasions use of an epidiascope and slide projector came in handy to get the proportions of some cars exact.