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Bill's Early Days

There have been many influences for Bill’s work from his early childhood to the present day. He grew up in Portsmouth on the south coast of England and his early years were spent rowing and sailing a clinker dinghy and cruising in his Father's various wooden sailing boats. In those days, he sketched the ships he saw around him, especially to while-away the time when passage making - later turning some of these sketches into detailed models. It was whilst looking for models in Maritime Museums that he first got interested in marine paintings.

Son of a World War II fighter pilot, Bill was named after one of his Father's heroes, the First World War Canadian fighter ace, William Avery (Billy) Bishop. His parents lived next door to the daughter of the great marine artist W.L. Wyllie (1851-1931), who encouraged him, even presenting him with about fifty of W.L.'s old brushes, which Bill still keeps.

Bill – the artist

In 1980, after the sale of the family shoe business to retire his Father, Bill started to paint full time with the support and encouragement of his wife Helen. A neighbour, Richard Joicey RSMA, persuaded him to submit his watercolour works to the Royal Society of Marine Artists for their annual exhibition from 1981-84, where they sold, until demand for his work made it impossible for him to spare work for exhibiting, and in 1985, on the advice of Bertram Newbury of the Parker Gallery in London, he started to paint in oils. A year later Bill received a commission from the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth for a depiction of ‘Windy Corner’ at the Battle of Jutland. This led to a commission from the Mary Rose Trust to paint the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII’s warship, both in her recovery cradle from life in watercolour and also the definitive version of how she originally looked in oils. Further commissions included HMS Warrior for the Warrior Museum, John Cabot’s ship, Matthew of 1497, for the Merchant Venturers of Bristol and the Prelude to D-Day for the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Bill started selling his work in the United States of America and while competing on a Real Tennis and Rackets tour of the American courts he met a marine art collector, who invited Bill to show some paintings at his home. Whilst there, Jim Marenakos of Quester Gallery viewed his work and as a result, Quester Gallery has represented him right up until the end of 2014.

In 2005 to mark the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar Bill painted a 6 foot wide depiction of the height of the battle which was acquired by the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in America.

Bill’s work around the World

Presently, Bill's works are in private collections in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Oman, Gibraltar, Germany, The Falkland Islands, Belgium and Denmark, as well as the UK. His paintings have appeared in publications such as the Dictionary of Sea Painters of Europe and America 3rd Edition, by E.H.H Archibald, The Financial Times, The Hampshire County Magazine, Boat International, Sea History Magazine, Antiques Magazine and the US Sailing Association publication, as well as several museum guide books.
Bill’s interests

Bill and Helen have three married sons, with lovely wives and six grand-children, all of whom are currently under an hours drive away; so enabling frequent visits.

Bill has cruised and competed under sail in various craft. He owned and raced Enterprise and Hornet dinghies then going on to a couple of wooden Victory Class keel-boats, which he maintained himself and lastly sharing in an RS Elite keel-boat. He has chartered and crewed in Antigua Classic Regatta, Monaco Classic Regatta and competed in the Elite Nationals at Burnham-on-Crouch and Leith, Edinburgh. He has cruised from the Solent to the West Country, Brittany and the Channel Islands, the Sea of Borthnia from Kokkola in Finland down to Stockholm, the coast of Maine in America and many parts of the Carribean and BVI's.

He rowed and is still behind an oar most Tuesdays throughout the year, as well as enjoying a couple of longer distance annual tours with the Solent Galley Shovellers!

Rugby is another one of his main sporting interests, having played for his school, Havant RFC and Harlequins FC. He has played squash and real tennis to a fairly high level, as well as lawn tennis, rackets and badminton. He fly fishes and shoots, skies every year and currently is trying to improve his golf at Hayling Island Golf Club.

Another of Bill's passions are vintage sports cars and he and his wife Helen enjoy Vintage Sports Car Club touring rallies in their 1936 AC 16/80 Earl of March Sports Tourer. They competed in the London to Lisbon Rally in 2000, the Pyreneean Challenge in 2002, the 2005 rally to the historic grand prix at Angoulême, as well as taking it up the test hill at Brooklands in the same year. In 2007 they took part in the VSSC 'Wonders of Burgundy' Tour to Beaune. Most recently they covered more than 2,000 miles to include a 3 week tour of ‘Hidden Italy’. Then in 2014 completed 1876 miles whilst taking part in the Wolsey Car Club of Ireland's Thousand Mile Challenge.

One of Bill's other passions is wildlife. A number of his paintings reflect this love which can be seen by viewing the gallery. He is also an active member of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society, the largest wildlife art society in Europe.




All commision enquiries welcomed. For more information: bill@bishopmarineart.com