Throughout history there are numerous instances where artists didn’t get serious about their work until later in life.
Van Gogh famously didn’t start painting until his late 20s, Claude Monet started making his most famous pieces in his 40s, and Louise Bourgeois made her most famous art at 70.
Another late bloomer, Brisbane graphic design and print business operator Colin Veerman retired from a long life in business 15 years ago and was instantly enamoured by the world of art after a brief visit to Brisbane’s Supreme Court’s ceremonial Banco Court.
Mr Veerman had been invited to attend the admission of a family member to the legal profession in the now demolished Supreme and District Court complex site, on the corner of George and Adelaide Street. He was in awe of the numerous oil-on-canvas paintings and portraits of former judges housed in intricate vintage gold frames hung upon the walls of the ceremonial court.
“When I retired in 2006 I took up art as a hobby,” Mr Veerman said. “Then I became really interested in the law as a subject when I attended the admission of my son-in-law at the old Banco Court and saw what a colourful and diverse subject the law could be.
“As a result, I now have over 50 law-based artworks on display at my pop-up gallery.”
The works range from very detailed portraits of subjects such as Geoffrey Robertson QC to the rather whimsical subjects of Pinocchio and Popeye.
Colin Veerman’s portrait of Geoffrey Robertson QC.
His work has become the talk of the Brisbane legal profession in recent months with the creation of his pop-up Mostly Legal Art Gallery, in the George Street legal precinct end of town near the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
While some of Mr Veerman’s art focuses on the law in general and features his Archibald Prize entry portrait of famous human rights barrister, author, broadcaster and dual Australian/British citizenship holder Geoffrey Robertson, much of the work features well-known legal identities going about their business in the Brisbane legal precinct.
The gallery contains a range of easily identifiable streetscapes of Brisbane’ George Street featuring prominent and legendary members of the profession such as veteran silk Tony Glynn QC, District Court Judge (and former Director of Public Prosecutions) Michael Byrne QC, barrister Bruce Mumford, Magistrate Eoin Mac Giolla Ri, veteran prosecutors Ron Swanwick and Danny Boyle, and Terry Lambert SC.
Even now-retired veteran Courier-Mail court photographer Phil Norrish is featured in one of Mr Veerman’s works. Phil was well-known in Brisbane legal circles and spent more than few decades as a daily fixture perched outside Brisbane’s Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts taking pictures of people appearing in newsworthy court matters and spending almost every waking moment having coffee with or talking the ear off any lawyer with a moment to spare.
Mr Veerman’s work has also featured while on loan to the Supreme Court Library Queensland and been displayed in the QEII Courts of Law complex.
“I have just found the law to be such an interesting subject to paint,” he said. “I find the colours of the robes and regalia to be so vibrant and there is a huge variety of subject matter to paint. I’ve done quite a bit of research and I can’t find anyone else in the world that is doing what I am at the moment.”
A selection of Mr Veerman’s works, including pieces inspired by the ‘snail in a bottle’ case.
While focusing on lawyers and all things legal, Mr Veerman says his gallery is open for all members of the public.
Mostly Legal Art Gallery, ground level 327 George Street, Brisbane.