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The creative process, “Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean”

The making of “Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean”; a creative process. (the original sketch >)  S_of_M_made_onboard_with_PG__sketch__IMG_4570_wp.JPG

A painting for Pete Goss newly available as a Limited Edition signed print, price £ 147.00, framed, £294.00 inc P&P.


The painting has everything except the unforgettable noise of the huge Southern seas…” Pete Goss.


“Painting for the renowned Pete Goss I knew intuitively would be a rare and special experience to savour…. “ – Gordon Frickers September 2013


The creative process,a brief outline of the creative process that lead to an authentic, dramatic image highlighting the hardship and risk of both the original (1854) and the Pete Goss voyage from Cornwall to Australia.

In the beginning a mutual friend George Skinner proposed Gordon Frickers create a painting of ‘Spirit of Mystery’.

Pete wrote to Gordon; “I have always admired ‘Roaring Forties’*. It is one of the few paintings that for me captures the Southern Ocean in a small boat”.

Thus the challenge was ‘on’ to try and equal or surpass the renowned ‘Roaring Forties’.

Neither individual had any idea what would emerge.

Pete said he was intrigued and keen to follow the creative process.


Pete Goss and Gordon Frickers met one stormy day aboard ‘Spirit of Mystery’ at the Mayflower Marina, Plymouth.  Pete_Goss_and_GF_IMG_4233.JPG_wp.JPG

Pete with typical generosity said to Gordon ’It is an honour to meet you” while Gordon was thinking, ‘err no I’m the one being honoured here!

Pete said he had no concept for a painting, he simply loved the idea, he was though very willing to co operate and intrigued to follow and understand the artist’s ‘creative processes’.


Gordon had already read the blogs, logs etc. so they talked for ¾’s of an hour about the idea of the unborn painting.


The artist developed a feel for how Pete Goss felt about his ‘Spirit of Mystery’ project.

Frickers began sketching, doodling, making some very simple suggestions based on ‘Roaring Forties’.

Ideas were discussed, “was it like this – no it as… “ many discarded, ideas were refined, place, time of day, lighting, sea state, log ‘n blogs, all were considered.

About 20 minutes into the sketching quite suddenly Gordon made a sketch that was almost the visual opposite of those they had been discussing; the moment of inspiration, there was the outline of painting you see today.


With some carefully taken photos of Spirit of Mystery Gordon was soon on his way back to his studio in SW France to work on defining the composition.

Colour and tone were to come later after Pete had seen the developed sketches.


The painting developed; there followed a series of technical exchanges about the exact appearance of the lugger.

Pete even rigged and photographed her as she would have appeared and advised on her exact colours.

Spirit of Mystery is revealed in a way no camera could offer us,
labouring in mountainous waves with a vicious cross sea.

Her sails are back lit by the dawn so there is light coming through them. This serves a in a double function.

The iridescent effect creates interest and ‘warms’ the picture countering the ‘black’ cross sea Pete vividly described.

Another point is that digital equipment tends to exaggerate certain colours, red being foremost.

Happily by using a camera and computer as a picture nears completion our artist can paint in such a way that when printed the picture looks like baby Bear’s porridge – ‘just right’.


There is a touch of red in the sea reflected from the sails.

Understated, it is useful to exaggerate the effects, to add vitality to the overall. The colours of the ‘white’ water are likewise influenced by the sky colours especially given the sort of patchy sunlight and flying spray Pete had described.


Gordon wroteI have tried to give our ‘Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean’ the qualities cameras and Photoshop don’t have.

To leave as much of the scene semi abstract as possible, to use physical texture, because that is how it is in bad weather.

I have pursued feeling and emotion here rather than detail.

That said the boat is highly detailed and I hope the sea is convincing. The cross sea presented a different challenge.

Luckily I’ve sailed in conditions like that all be it on a less grand scale”.


The scene is not overly dramatic, it does not need to be.

Of the original voyage Capt Nicholls wrote “Our gallant little boat rides the mountains of sea remarkably well”.

Pete saidI particularly like the vast underlying swell rolling off into the infinite space of the Southern Ocean coupled with the immediacy of the nasty cross sea that threatens to overwhelm the boat – you have a rare talent and have captured what is so hard to describe”.

19 December 2012 ~ “Really good to see you yesterday and thanks so much for the painting – it is stunning;  I put it on the table at home, made a cuppa and disappeared into it for half an hour”.


I got exactly the painting I’d hoped for” – Pete Goss.

Later Pete added the painting has everything except the unforgettable noise of the huge Southern seas…



Gordon has said “I can think of few greater compliments for an artist than to have people who have been there, done it, got the T shirt, endorse my art work”.


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Order your copy via ‘contact us ‘on www.frickers.co.uk


Telephone: (UK) 01865 522435 (International code: +44 1865 522435),

Spirit of Mystery in the Southern Ocean” is now available as a signed print.



“gordonfrickers” – Skype to Skype calls are FREE:

Snail mail:
Gordon Frickers, artist, 41a Oak Tree Park, Glenholt, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 7JZ, England


The new painting is the same size as ‘Roaring Forties’ (762 x 1219 mm (30 x 48), oils on canvas) and will be framed with the same oak used to build Spirit of Mystery.

*Roaring Forties” – painted for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston shows “Suhaili” 16 December 1968 enduring the first solo nonstop circumnavigation; available as a Heritage print, numbered edition signed by Robin and the artist from www.frickers.co.uk

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Gordon Frickers ©November 2013


The 37 ft ‘Mystery’ was an open Mounts Bay fishing Lugger built in Newlyn. In an astonishing, unsung feat of heroic British seamanship she left Newlyn on Saturday 18 November 1854 and travelled about 11,800 nautical miles in 116 days before arriving in Melbourne on 14 March 1855.

She was the smallest boat to attempt the journey.

The seven Cornishmen on board were prepared to risk their lives in the world’s wildest seas for the chance of a better life in Australia’s gold rush.

A Cornishman, Pete Goss built a replica lugger and followed in the wake of seven Cornishmen who made that heroic journey to Australia 154 years before.

‘Spirit of Mystery’ was launched on Saturday 21st June and set sail for Australia on 20th October 2008, arriving on 9th March 2009.


“I knew intuitively painting for the renowned Pete Goss would be a rare and special experience…. “Gordon Frickers September 2013


About Gordon Frickers:

One of the very few artists invited and the first and only marine artistto exhibit at the European Parliament, Brussels (May 2011).

He has been the choice of many diverse & renowned organizations including Yamaha, British Telecom, the Ministry of Defense, Corum, Calmac and Deloitte & Touché.

Distinguished individuals have examples of the art of Gordon Frickers, people as varied as varied as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Sir Richard Branson, and now, Pete Goss.

Our efforts with the painting were highly successful” ~ Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.