Colin Verity

A LIFELONG fascination with ships, a remarkable eye for detail and outstanding artistic talent have put the oil and water colour paintings by Colin Verity in collections around the world.

He was working on his latest picture at his home in East Yorkshire on the day he died, aged 87.

Born in Darwen, Lancashire, he was five when he stood on the deck of the Arandora Star in Gladstone Dock, Liverpool, and sketched the SS Franconia. The detail was so remarkable that the drawing, on a piece of brown paper, survives to this day as testament to his precocious talent.

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One of the first people outside the family to recognise it was Gussie Cooper, a teacher at Hull’s Malet Lambert School who provided him with a proper drawing pad and encouraged him to go to the docks and draw the ships there.

His sense of perspective and proportion, and his ability to reproduce on paper what was in front of him steered him towards architecture, and leaving school, he went to the School of Architecture at Hull University.

The Second World War interrupted his studies and he joined the RAF, flying Spitfires in its final stages. In later life, he would build and fly seriously large radio-controlled model aircraft.

The war over, he became a civic architect with Hull City Council, rising to the position of principal architect.

In 1974, with the re-organisation of local government, he took up the equivalent role at the newly created Humberside County Council where he remained until his retirement 10 years later.

Architecture gave him a reason to be creative in an additional way to painting because of the scope it offered for making very precise models, and this pleasure in accurate craftsmanship was also seen in his model aircraft.

As a marine artist, Mr Verity preferred to paint ships of the steam era, after which when they became “ungainly contraptions”. The older ships, he maintained, had character; he particularly appreciated the distinctive lines of the steam trawlers of the 1920s and 1930s.

His paintings are in private and corporate collections in 17 countries, and clients have included the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Lloyds of London and the Sultans of Oman and Brunei.

A life member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, he was a finalist in the prestigious Hunting Group Art Awards of 1980, he won three Mystic Seaport Museum (Connecticut, USA) international art awards, and in 1982 won a competition to design a poster for the World Ship Society.

In 2003, when he was 79, a major retrospective of his work entitled A Glance Astern was held at Hull Maritime Museum, and to accompany it, he published a book of the same title. One of the visitors to the exhibition was the Duke of Gloucester, who owned a painting by him of a sailing ship called The Duke of Gloucester.

Mr Verity possessed an impressive knowledge of the vessels he painted, and while his work was necessarily solitary, he was not solitary by nature. He happily talked about his work, and made many and lasting friendships.

He was married to Stella Smale for 50 years and they had a son and three daughters. Following Stella’s death, in 2003 he married the artist Sonya Raven-Ainley who survives him.

Mr Verity’s artistry is being continued by his son Roderick.