Derrick was born in Kuala Lumpur and came to Perth in 1958 to finish schooling and then
university where he obtained an engineering degree. He was then conscripted into the army and
served for two years as a sapper in the engineering corps. He was posted to Nui Dat in Vietnam
and his engineering skills were put to good use where he carried out pacification works in the
towns and villages in Phuc Thuy province for one year during the war.
On returning to Western Australia he joined the Main Roads Department and was involved in
the planning, design and construction of roads and bridges throughout the State. In his own time
he completed a Graduate Diploma in Computing at the WA Institute of Technology and in 1976
he was awarded a bursary and completed a Master’s Degree in Transportation Planning at
Northwestern University in Chicago.
After 30 years at the Main Roads, the PTSD from the war in Vietnam was affecting his health
and he retired from Main Roads. He then worked for 4 months as a consultant to the World
Bank in Orissa State in India on an institutional strengthening project within the public works
department in that state.
He took up painting as a therapy for managing PTSD and although he found that painting was a
refuge from stress it was challenging moving from a left-brained convergent thinking career
based on analysis and calculations and the use of computers to one which required being more
creative and flamboyant with paint.
A TAFE course for adults was a small beginning in painting with watercolours and he has
attended numerous workshops in WA and the Mitchell School of Art in Bathurst for both the
summer and winter schools. For about 10 years he attended the leisure course in watercolour
painting run by Lucy Papalia in Duncraig, who very generously and patiently tried to instil the
finer points of watercolour painting in him.
He very much admires the work of Alvaro Castagnet, Joseph Zbukvic, Herman Pekel and Ian
De Souza. At a workshop, Alvaro said that “watercolour painting is like a game of golf where the
least strokes win”. This, of course, presupposes that the strokes are in the right place and they
are the right shape and intensity and the paper is at the right level of wetness So Derrick hopes
that the brush miles that he is clocking up with his painting are nudging him along this path.
As if to confirm Alvero’s words when Derrick was at the caves in Pech Merle in France the guide
pointed to a drawing of a woolly mammoth and marvelled at the economy of stroke that the
the painter used to deftly and accurately depict the creature with only 14 strokes of manganese
oxide and charcoal. The painting has been dated as being 25000 years old and must be one of
the oldest examples of life drawing around.
In addition to being a member of the West Australian Society of Arts, he is also a member of the
Alfred Cove Art Society, the Wanneroo Joondalup Art Society and the Watercolour Society of
- International Watercolour exhibition Maccagno, Italy 2013
- International Watercolour exhibition Alessandria Italy 2016
- International Watercolour exhibition Maccagno Italy 2018
- European Watercolour Exhibition and Symposium Krakow Poland 2018
WASA Lawrie Bennett Plein Air Award – Highly Commended 2008
Annual Prize Exhibition – Highly Commended 2010
WSWA Annual Awards Exhibition Highly Commended 2013
ACAS Annual Exhibition – Highly Commended 2014
Open Minds and Open Doors
Annual Art Exhibition – Gino’s ‘Car Craft’ Art Award 2015
Cockburn Community and Cultural Council
Annual Art Exhibition – First Prize – Watercolours 2021
Merit Award – Watercolours 2021
City of Cockburn – 1st Prize Art Section 2021