- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Canberra I, HMAS Tingira, HMAS Sydney I
- December 1982 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The keynote of John’s work is correctness of detail – perspective must be spot-on, funnels and masts must have just the right angle, guns must look as though they will not collapse when fired, seaboats must be turned out, properly griped, ready to lower, correct pattern anchors are to be carried, bollards, fairleads and a host of other such details must be included, and the details must be correct for the period depicted. This latter is most important; (how about a picture of Sydney (I) complete with tripod foremast, blasting the Emden? This error has actually been perpetrated, even though the tripod was not fitted for some years after the action!).
John believes that ships, like people, have an ideal angle from which they should be seen, and so he likes his ships in this ideal position, really looking as though they are having their portraits painted!
All these points – all this striving for accuracy, is based not only upon study and research, but most importantly, upon the knowledge and actual experience gained in years of service at sea.
As well as being an outstanding naval artist and writer, John Bastock’s collection of naval photographs is of international significance. This collection was obtained the hard way, by over 60 years of taking photographs himself, and exchanging them with naval photograph collectors throughout the world. Hardly a week goes by without John being asked to identify or date a ship photograph, or give some advice about the vessel concerned.
I first met John when he came on board the Australia in 1946 to do some research for an article he was writing for a magazine. I was amazed then at his knowledge of the vessel, and I doubt whether there is anyone who is more knowledgeable on ships of the RAN and British Commonwealth navies than John Bastock. In a way, he is as expert in drawing and painting naval subjects as Norman Lindsay was in painting nudes!