Nicole Grace Shrimpton
7 min readJun 13, 2019

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PATRICK BOLLEN OAM

SYDNEY MARITIME ARTIST

Patrick Bollen is a maritime artist of the Sydney’s lower north shore, an accomplished competitive sailor, offshore yacht master and sea captain who was recently awarded an Order of Australia for his services to sailing and community.

Patrick Bollen at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with a recent commission — a panorama of Engage Marine tugboats on Sydney Harbour

Since making his debut as a painter in 2018, the artist has focused uniquely on competitive racing yachts. Remarkably he is one of the only artists currently depicting the famous yachts of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart including Ichi ban, Wild Oats, Patrice and Alive.

Sydney to Hobart Race Strat 2017. The start of the race

Bollen draws on a nautical lifetime immersed in famous racing yachts and events, and in particular the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Hobart Race entrant KOA off Cape Raoul

A refined understanding of the principles of yacht racing, the dynamic and challenges of the start and the geography of Sydney Harbour, its wind patterns, tidal flow, even the tightly compact formation and sycronicity of crew — all are taken into account with each meticulous brush stroke.

Tony Kirby’s ‘Patrice Beneath North Head, Sydney to Gold Coast Race’

Patrick’s appreciation of the maritime art comes from a lifelong fascination stemming from his own family — his father a merchant mariner, Captain Joseph originally from the Netherlands and his youngest brother Joe, now an established maritime and landscape artist in his own right.

Chinese entrant Qingdao in Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race
Kiaoloa 11 off Tasman Island, 2017

A refined understanding of competitive yachting comes from his endeavours onboard in some of the most admired offshore yachts — Mary Muffin, Mercedes V, Parmelia, Ex-Tension, Apocalypse, Freight Train, Dr Dan and Apollo. Among these is Condor of Bermuda on which he crewed to win the 1982 Sydney to Hobart.

Schooner Astor racing off Hawaii

An early association in sales and marketing with many industry greats including Olympian Ron Clarke set the the young sailor’s compass firmly towards his love of sports and the sea.

Helming Great Britain 11, the Whitbread Round the World Racer, in 1975

As a well known sports journalist he would go on to cover yachting for SMH, the Australian, 2UE, 2GB, News Corp and the Macquarie Network, the America’s Cup for Fox Sports and the Sydney to Hobart every year since 1974 and many other regattas including the Pan Am Clipper Cup Series.

Cassiopeia 1932 off Turkish Coast

As a commercial ships Captain, he has crewed many of Australia’s most beautiful private yachts and motor vessels, including the Swan yacht Concordia, the great classic yacht Astor and the beautiful Ed Dubois design 100 foot cutter Alcanara, as well as skippering the 90 foot former Hobart relay vessel Mia Mia.

Six Metre Sjo Ro in Wollstonecraft Bay

A lifetime of appreciation of yachts informs the work — especially of the great classics such as the 6 metre Sjo Ro and Australian 12 metre Gretel 2.

2017 Hobart winner off Cape Raoul
J Yacht off Newport RI

Battling a great illness over which he has recently triumphed, the sailor was urged to resume painting again by his brother, and also by the vision of the 8 metre yacht Defiance, recognising her from a cover shot of Classic Boat UK, photographed by celebrated Sydney to Hobart photographer Richard Bennett.

Defiance on Sydney Harbour, inspired by the work of Richard Bennett

The painting resulted in a creative outpouring that has produced many marvellous works. “ I wish I had discovered my talent at a much younger age,” he says, as he tirelessly works to document the yachts he has adored over a lifetime.

“I love the vibrancy of colour and I like to paint sail against the grandeur of the Australian coastline,” says Bollen, “particularly the dramatic rock formations of South Eastern Tasmania.

Lighthouse in Portland, Main

“My works feature yachts and sailboats both racing and cruising. As a yachtsman and commercial Captain I have, since my youth, had a great affection and admiration for the lines and grace of sail and sailboats as well as the might and power of ships.”

Comanche at sunset

There is a huge diversity in Bollen’s style and mood. Some days the focus is more on the rocks than the boats themselves. Some simply more about the sensation of sailing and of movement through the water and air.

Superyacht stealth: A vision of grace and power off Sardinia

Another preferred subject matter is Sydney Harbour itself. A founder of the Friends of Sydney Harbour, Bollen has a special interest in the harbour.

The artist with the two metre panorama of Sydney Harbour at the CYCA

There are but a handful of Sydney artists brave enough to include the iconic subject matter for which the harbour is known — among these are Margaret Preston, John Baird, Brett Whitely, John Firth Smith, Peter Kingston and Ken Done.

Balmoralin a Lightning Storm
The Hornby Light, South Head
Engage Marine tuboat on Sydney Harbour, courtesy Marius Fenger

Two recent private commission focus on this — the arrival of the new Engage Marine tuboats on Sydney Harbour (seen above) including one technically difficult two metre long panorama of the bright blue tugboats in action against the backdrop of the CBD skyline and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Harbour Panorama at RANSA, courtesy of Marius Fenger

A current commission — another panorama — is of the start of the 2017 Sydney to Hobart yacht race to specifically capture the moment in which the penalty occurred between super maxis Wild Oats and Comanche. And a third is for Sydney to Hobart cameraman Greg Hunter of North Head featuring Scallywag and Wild Oats.

Opera House Sunrise

Bollen’s work is informed by a comprehensive appreciation of all aspects of competitive yachting from the aesthetic to the technical. His appreciation of the tension of the start line, sensitivity of the movement of the boat through water to his sailor’s eye for the horizon and foreshore, light on water, cloud and sail formation and weather all bear the hallmarks of a lifetime in yachting. He is in this regard a real yachtman’s artist, currently in pencil and watercolour and soon to be in oil.

Wild Oats 11 rounding the Iron Pot and enetering the Derwent River

Friends and colleagues are expressing their surprise at Bollen’s rediscovery of a what is clearly an innate talent. It is a wonderful discovery late in life, its true,” he says.

With a new fan at RANSA

Patrick Bollen’s work made it’s first public debut courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association (RANSA) in Rushcutters Bay. He is a member of the Australian Society of Maritime Artists.

Patrick’s latest works show his work developing at pace, much like the yachts racing below.

The spiritual essence of sailing
The thrill and beauty of competition
The unparallelled spirit of camraderie onboard.

He is unique among Australian artists in exploring the sensation and endeavour of sailing, both the yachts themselves and the skill of those onboard.

A romantic vision of rounding Fastnet Lighthouse

This powerful subject that expresses so much about the Australian spirit, the desire to be in both commune and competition with the forces of wind and sea, is familiar territory for a man who has spent a lifetime on the ocean.

The historic 18 footer Yendys under full spinnaker on Sydney Harbour

“Whether you sail dinghies, skiffs, ocean racers, cruisers, power boats or ships, whether you sail rivers, lakes, harbours or oceans,” Patrick says, “the seas does not return what you ask for but the strongest memory she grants you is the beauty of her moods.”

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