Jim Rae

Ships and aircraft have been a main part in my life. As a boy I started drawing them and like others of my generation (the dawn of the AIRFIX era) I made models of them as well. I left school and naturally to my way of thinking went to sea, first as a Cabin Boy in the Merchant Navy, and eventually I enlisted in the Royal Navy.

I continued my interest in ships and aircraft as my job in the RN was as an Aircraft Handler. This is the branch of the Navy which deals with the launching, recovery and movement of aircraft, Air Traffic Control and Crash/Fire rescue on ships and Air Stations. It was while serving in various Aircraft Carriers that I took up painting once again. I can honestly say that I ate, slept and breathed my subjects. I can still taste hot jet fuel and funnel gases.

I have never set out to be an ‘artist’. The subjects I paint are really quite specialist. Not many people want a painting of the ‘Battle of the North Cape’ unless grand-dad served in one of the ships taking part. I tend to concentrate on lesser known events, and the ‘little ship’ rather than the battleship and great battles. I do occasional landscapes and still life, but really have little interest in doing more main stream art subjects. Although I am retired, my interest in painting gives me pleasure and has also made lots of new friends.

In 2016 my wife and I were invited to take part in ‘DERVISH 75’ - events celebrating the arrival of the first Arctic Convoy (code-named Dervish) to Russia. We accompanied several veterans and their carers to Arkhangelsk and Saint Petersburg, where our Russian hosts had organised visits and commemorative events. Several of my paintings were made up into an A3 book along with the personal stories of people who took part in these convoys. The books, entitled 'Arctic Echoes - 75 Years of Friendship' were presented to Museums, Schools, Colleges, veterans and diplomatic representatives of participating countries. From this visit we have gained a deeper understanding of Russia and the warmth of the people.