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News > Old Boy News > Artist | Skydiver | Cripple | Saint

Artist | Skydiver | Cripple | Saint

18 Oct 2023
Old Boy News
Old Boy Phil Whatmore (1963)
Old Boy Phil Whatmore (1963)


Class of 1963

The Canopies - artwork by Phil Whatmore

The life of Old Boy Phillip Whatmore (1963) whilst ordinary in many ways, was in other ways quite extraordinary. While not famous or successful in traditional terms, he has left an enduring legacy of beauty and complexity that fills the heart with joy.

From his teenage years, Phil was interested in drawing and painting. He maintained this passion throughout his life and kept almost every painting that he ever started. Much of his work has a strong focus on landscapes in realist and impressionistic styles. There are also many depictions of his life and the contexts in which he lived.

In 1967, at the age of 22, Phil started skydiving. He was a talented skydiver, competing in national and international skydiving competitions, where he achieved considerable success at elite levels which includes representing Australia three times at the World Championships. In 1976, Phil had a major parachuting accident in which he suffered severe injuries and was permanently crippled. When his main parachute malfunctioned, strong winds blew him backwards onto powerlines that caught him behind his knees leaving him with nerve damage. The accident dashed his dreams to become a world champion in sport parachuting.

In the early 1990s, with a newly found commitment to religion, Phil’s years of despair, anger and frustration were replaced with love and appreciation. Through all this time, he never complained, he never stopped painting and he never stopped skydiving.

Phil’s untimely death, on 27 May 2012, was the result of another malfunction of his main parachute (attributed to modifications to his gear) over the Gatton Drop Zone. His final skydive however was the following month when friends released his ashes over this Drop Zone.

Since Phil’s death, close friend Dave McEvoy has restored, framed and is now exhibiting Phil’s artwork. The project has been a labour of love and the fulfilment of a promise. Not only did this happen, but he also built the Phil Whatmore Gallery which opened on Sunday 8 October 2023, along with a book launch and signing of The Phil Whatmore Story and a website of the same name.

The Phil Whatmore Gallery is at Skydive Ramblers, Toogoolawah. The gallery is available free to the public (by appointment) and the book is downloadable for free to those interested.

1970 Australian Parachute Team (L-R): Jim Cox, Dave McEvoy, Faye Cox, Phil Whatmore, Bob Morrison, Tony Curl, Bob Barry. Insert: Phil Whatmore.

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