This watercolour and pencil ship portrait, although executed with a naive style, represents a maritime story in its own right.
In the 1940s the matron of a local Perth hospital admitted the Aboriginal man Flash Jack and waived the fee that he could ill afford. In appreciation of her kindness Flash Jack painted this picture of the Centaur and gave it to the matron. The matron had once served on Centaur that was later bombed by the Japanese when the ship was in Moreton Bay, Queensland, during World War II.
The matron later donated the painting to the Blue Funnel Line that had owned the Centaur before World War II. Blue Funnel was later taken over by P&O and the painting ended up in London's P&O's head office, in storage. In the 1990s, researcher and author of School Kid Ships (Black Swan Press, 1998), Julia Ludbrook, found a reference to the painting and followed the leads to London.
P&O kindly donated the painting to the Maritime Museum in 2000.