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Remember when...Peter Winnington holds one of his paintings capturing his time as a boy growing up in Timaru fishing off a wharf at the port. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Art and police work seem an unlikely combination.

However, Peter Winnington (73), a talented Timaru water colourist, juggled both until his retirement from the force six years ago and since then he has continued painting at an even more prolific rate.

“I’ve done it for years now,” he says, in a way that suggests it is just part of living and breathing for him.

His talent was apparent from the age of 9, when he was stunned to win a nationwide water colour painting competition

“We were lucky we had a mother who was a very good painter. She encouraged us to paint and it is something that I have kept.”

Apart from his mother and at secondary school, Mr Winnington has never received any formal art tuition, although he has drawn constantly.

After attending West School and Timaru Boys’ High School he had various jobs.

“I had a signwriter’s business in Temuka for a period and then joined the police in 1971. At the time it was a wonderful move.

“My police service was 35 years, with the last 30 in Porirua and Wellington.

“I left Timaru in 1975 and never lived here again until I retired six years ago. I always said I would come back.”

His time in the police ranged from country police work to communications and prosecutions. His ties to the police remain strong and he has family members who are still serving.

“The police do a wonderful job and have got all sorts of things to contend with that we didn’t.”

Along with painting during his police years, Mr Winnington also started drawing cartoons, which were published in a Wellington community newspaper. He still received commissions for his cartoons, many of which were sport related, he said.

“Wherever I go people say to me ‘remember that sketch you did of me?’ I have to say I can’t remember. There have been so many.”.

Water colour painters worked quickly to capture the moment, which required great skill, he said.

“The secret is to do them and leave them and move on. I spend about 45 minutes on each one.”

His travels have provided much of his subject matter. He and wife Kerry have spent a great deal of time in Ireland and both hold Irish passports.

His portfolio includes many paintings of towns and rural and marine scenes in Ireland. There are others of New York, Melbourne and other parts of the world he has visited.

Naturally, Timaru and South Canterbury figure prominently.

“I like marine scenes. I have a whole series of Timaru [port] that go back to the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve got heaps of old photos of my father’s which I use.”

Landmark Timaru buildings, countryside scenes and most recently South Canterbury Hunt pictures are among them.

“I really like painting horses – they’re a magnificent animal.”

He has been having a busy retirement since leaving the police. Besides his art work Mr Winnington has an interest in music.

“I play in the Timaru Dixieland band.”