“Of course I always knew of Sir Ed, a legend of epic proportions, a New Zealand icon; a craggy, taciturn, emphatic presence. One of the few individuals to equal or eclipse the All Blacks as an inspirational focus of New Zealand’s national character. We would catch up for coffee; city dwelling artist and polar explorer. I had a few good yarns to tell, Ed had a lifetime of adventures.
This whole process was pretty one sided, Ed showering me with his wealth of life experiences and I narrating a few city life war stories. I had the wonderful privilege to be exposed to the real Sir Ed, the man who won the hearts of New Zealanders with his understated warmth, generous compassion, love of life and love of humanity. And so I decided to paint, to capture the essence of the man, quintessential explorer, philosopher, my friend.
Sir Ed would tell me stories of victory and hardship, the power of believing that the apparently impossible was feasible, that in the face of indefatigable odds, there is often a path forward. He loved the people of Nepal and realised that theirs was a fragile, unrecognised, undervalued existence. The Nepalese desperately needed help with health, education and the environment he found many ways to respond.” “I remember that he had a reasonably unlined face, a subdued smile and eyes that could penetrate right through you. He did not suffer fools. His hair was always kept rather long and unkempt, he looked as though he had come into the room from a howling gale outside.”