Great - grandfather Thomas Theophilus was a genuine pioneer, emigrating from England in the 1860's, experienced in the goldfields then famous in his time for a string of technological patents. He introduced everything 'tech' he could adopt in the world that would advance Melbourne in the midd to late nineteenth century, continuing right up to his passing at 83 in 1921. He was also a member of the Australian Rifle Team competing internationally, eventually carrying the rank of Captain.
It seems that old great-grandad required the elder son of each following generation to be christened Thomas Theophilus; and so it has been. All first born sons also were engaged in engineering fields. That includes Noosa's Thomas T. Draper. He is not only an artist and gallery owner but also a journeyman precision tool and die maker in the metal trades and graduate industrial production engineer. He practiced in these fields for twenty-eight years prior to buying out the Young Masters Gallery in Brisbane in 1983.
The following gives in text and images some of the history surrounding good old and famous Thomas Theophilus Draper of Melbourne.
The second generation Thomas Theophilus Draper was born in to riches which he appears to have squandered quite successfully. He apparently married 'out of The Church' too, something which was heavily frowned upon back in the 'early' days. He was also an electrician from all accounts. He fathered two children, a boy and a girl. They were born in to poverty. They were mothered by foster parents, (the Schepisi's,parents of Fred, the renowned film-maker). The girl, Cacilia, died of a hernia at 20 lifting a typewriter. The boy, Thomas T. Draper the 3rd received a college education at Geelong thankfully, through old great grand-dad who 'fostered' him, eventually sending him off to war as cannon fodder. He survived! Unfortunately, the wild old, Thomas T. Draper the 2nd, fell off the top of a crane in Port Kembla, NSW, one day, and that was that. RIP.
He embarked from Sydney for Egypt in 1916 on the HMS 'Nestor' at 18 years of age to be trained for the offensive on the Western Front. Like great grand - dad he seems to have had a good eye and trigger finger making him eminently suitable as a machine gunner. (On a trip to Ypres, Belgium, in 1972 he pointed out his one-time position on top of the Menin Gate, a famous location in the history of WWI).
Shot and gassed, TTD the third eventually retuned to Australia in one piece, finding Queensland his preferred location for a new start. Flat broke and receiving zero from his father, he proved his abilities in various fields from selling Nash cars, to stage illumination in JC Williamson theatres and finally installing the first electric petrol fuel pumps throughout the state. Following his betrothal to school teacher, Mary, from Belmont NSW, he moved to Old Guildford in south-west Sydney, then, a semi-rural area. Mary was very proud that he had never gone on the dole in the depression, He built a two bedroom house himself from timber and asbestos sheeting, then went on to establish the one time well known B&D Manufacturing Company which he also built with his own hands and assistance of others. It consisted of a ferrous (cupola) and non-ferrous gunmetal and aluminium foundry, machine shop and assembly plant. There he produced industrial switchgear for marine applications in WW2, and for factories throughout Australia. Beyond that, he branched out in to Government contracts for street lighting. That activity was supplemented with compression and vacuum plastic moulding, lawn mowers, air compressors and solar water heaters. He established distribution agencies in all Australian capital cities. The company eventually folded around 1975 a few years before his untimely death due to rolling an overloaded automobile off a bend in the Blue Mountains and landing on his head. Throughout his period in business he held prominent positions in business associations and boat racing. He even built his own speed boat in the back yard and won best time (one-time) in the famous 100km bridge to bridge Hawkesbury River speedboat race in the late 1940's. Finally, in his 70's he took two world trips with Mary, each taking about 4 months, so it seems like he did well enough out of his endeavours. TTD the fourth got his fathers gold watch which he still wears today. That was 'it'
Because of Noosa's Thomas T. Draper's father's success in business, his father could afford to send him off to college at the age of nine years.
He had proved to be smart in his junior years, jumping two classes, however on entering college he proved to be immature in the strange environment, finding extreme difficulty eventually at fourteen, fighting in the classroom with fellow students. The family had moved in to the inner suburbs of Sydney to be within close vicinity of the college. He found there only loneliness, losing interest in his studies. He completed his fifth year with miserable results on turning sixteen. His father had him immediately indentured in Fitting and Machining (Toolmaking) at Frank G. Spurways. Surprise, surprise, and he receives First Prize in his trade course for 3 years running. In the fifth year of the apprenticeship he decides himself to take on a five year Production Engineering Certificate Course by night at Sydney Technical College, Ultimo. This was followed up with a post graduate year at the, then, new University of New South Wales at Kensington. Tom excelled amongst entirely pro-active like-minded young men, all with goals, winning honours and credits along the way.
Young Tom worked in the engineering design office in the latter years of his apprenticeship and was looking forward to a promotion. His father however decided he needed Tom more than the Company with whom he had been indentured. Subsequently (with a proverbial gun at his head), Tom became factory manager of his fathers plant in Old Guildford. Naive and ungrateful, Tom battled on, ignoring his short-comings, doing much however to lift the morale of the factory employees. This all took place in a period of severe economic recession. Tom made significant improvements to production methods and product design, the cheapest way to make progress in tough times. However it was all to no avail due to lack of working capital and competition from other manufacturers. After 3 years Tom pulled out and went off to work again in the city, this time, as a contract design draftsman with BSP Industries on the design of automatic bakery and confectionery plant for export. He continued the same work with NID Pty. Ltd., which only recently, in 2017, relinquished it's leading position in the market place, becoming swallowed up by another larger Australian food production solutions company, TNA. Tom left NID in December 1963 for Europe.
During the midd teenage years and in to his early twenties, Tom was an active speleologist (caver) and skier. He also excelled much earlier as a violinist (Honours) for most of 5 years study and in tennis.
Many images illustrated and for sale on this website bear witness to the years before Tom left for eighteen years in Europe. A few photos below highlight Tom's emerging years.
Sounds a bit crazy, but it wasn't the real reason he went overseas. He was simply stifled by Sydney life and his social group. He used the advice of his Austrian ski instructor at Perisher Valley as a psychological lever to get him out of the rut. He could not find his female soul mate and felt ashamed of what appeared to him as a weakness of character to show his feelings, not something simply normal. You see, it was different in those days. To show emotions was viewed as unmanly. It wasn't until he was on the ship on his way to Europe that it was discovered that he had an overactive thyroid gland. Seven years earlier his sister had suffered the same problem. They operated, cut out too much and wrecked her life. At the time Tom did not know of this. In London at Kings College Hospital the assumption of the ship's doctor proved correct as determined through radio iodine tests. He immediately attacked the problem in his own way. He turned off his intense heart-felt feelings for the ladies and simply concentrated on basic physical relationships, not allowing 'things' to get complicated. There he found appreciation and 'loving' memories gaining a reputation as being very 'natural'. It is assumed he won quite a few hearts. Always afraid of 'getting in deep', Tom continued on for generations in the same vein. Subsequently, he finds himself in relative desolation, not having wed, at the end of the line of TTD's he feels largely so proud of.
Tom trained in both 1965 and 1970 as a ski instructor, initially on his own initiative but secondly under the auspices of the Austrian Ski School, Alpbach, Tirol. Both assistant instructor courses were executed at the University of Innsbruck, Bundessportheim in Oberguergl at the top of the Otztal Valley, Tirol, Austria. He taught skiing full time for two seasons, then part time for a further eleven years in Alpbach and German ski schools close to his place of primary employment.
Professionally, Tom found full time employment as an engineering manager, for the United States Army Europe. They were impressed with his skills and elevated him rapidly through the system much to the aggravation of many. On a top salary he experienced the best years of his life between 1970 and 1980. Summer holidays were spent in France, Italy and Croatia. Sports cars and painting were his other love and joy. The last 2 years were spent as an export sales manager for the famous German rotary seals manufacturer, Feodor Burgmann. He was delighted to be accepted by the company unconditionally and 'found his feet' quickly, practicing the branch of engineering in which he had been trained so well, namely 'mechanical-production', many years earlier.
Embarking Sydney ca., 15 Dec 1963, on the Lloyd Trestino 'Galileo Galelei' for Naples via Singapore, Colombo, Bombay and Aden. Met Christine Osborne, then nurse, to-day quite famous photo journalist; (worldreligions.co.uk). They travelled by train and through hitch-hiking together to Naples, Rome, Venice Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna; separating in Munich, he to London, she to Berlin.
In London Tom hooked up with Nadine and Claudette in Earls Court. He got bartending jobs at the Zambezi and Barkston Clubs in Earls Court working 5 nights and two afternoons a week. Coupled with this he got a design engineers job at Hilger and Watts (illustrated), where he was required in those days to work five and a half days a week. (Total 72 hour week + train travel).
By the end of the year Tom had saved only enough to buy a set of skis and a season ski-lift ticket, finding a job in French Switzerland (Leysin). Employed as a rouse-about and bunked at a private school, he trained every day for 6 months, 4 hours a day to become a ski instructor. Pay was full board and just enough to buy one drink and a bar of chocolate daily at the famous Club Vagabond. (He pinched Rioja Claret from the school cellar; excellent drop!).
Took off for Stuttgart finding an engineering job with Robert Bosch, but dumped it 3 days later when he found the American Forces who offered him a little more. Just how much more was yet to be revealed. Commencing as a building trades estimator, elevated to cost analyst in the Metro engineering department.
Towards the end of the year he returned to Switzerland, picked up skis which he found he had thrashed to death in the previous season and disgruntled, headed off to Austria to find Professor Hoppichler the creator of the (then) new Austrian technique. He found the famous Bundessportheim in Obergurgl. He knocks on the front door and lone behold it is answered by the great Professor Hoppichler (dec.) himself. Tom is told to come back in 4 weeks whereupon he can join the course.
Tom is flat broke as usual so he jumps on public transport back to Stuttgart where Sergeant Sedgwick, who had given him part-time bartending work at Nellingen Kaserne NCO Club throughout his first year with the engineers at Grenadier Kaserne, offers him extraordinary bartending hours and a bunk in the NCO bachelor officers quarters.(Nellingen is about 20 kilometres out of Stuttgart up the Neckar River). 30 Australian T-bone steak breakfast's later, and enough money to buy a new set of skis in Innsbruck, he joins the assistant ski instructors training course in Obergurgl within 24 hours of leaving Nellingen following a month of bartending day and night at the NCO Club.
On the fourth day he gets very drunk in the Edelweiss Hotel bar and gets king hit by a local instructor. He flys off his bar stool across the room and lands in a heap like a bag of potatoes. He completes the 2 week course with considerable gasping and breast pain; (skiing up to 2,500 metres altitude). On completion he gets a certificate and heads off for Alpbach in Tirol where he lines up a teaching job to begin in 4 weeks. On returning to Nellingen he gets an X-ray. The medic tells him has had 2 broken ribs which he could do nothing about as they had set themselves. Tom is given the same sustenance and day/night bartending program as received 6 weeks earlier, for another 4 weeks, then heads off to Austria to teach skiing for the first time (and get paid well for it).
Tom returns to Stuttgart at the end of the ski season and is hired by Sergeant Sedgwick as full-time head bartender of a brand new Enlisted Mens club in Grenadier Kaserne, Zuffenhausen where Tom has been living for the last year,i.e., when not in Nellingen or Austria. Convenient for a change! He makes a pot of money and spends it in the midd-night hours as well as his one-time wayward grandfather.
About the time when Tom plans to resign and go off teaching in Austria for a full season, the club is shut down and boarded-up. The manager, (not Sedgwick), is charged by the MP's and sent to jail in Fort Leavenwoth, Kansas for graft and corruption.
The ski season went very well for Tom. He was looked after well by a very old lady who made excellent country breakfasts. Allocation of private ski lessons at great rates pleased him considerably. At the end of the season he headed back to Stuttgart where he was hired again by the Post Engineer. After a month or two, through the death of a long-standing German civil engineer he became Supervisor of Roads and Grounds for the entire Stuttgart military community, encompassing 43 installations, consisting of a hospital, airfield, numerous housing areas and military barracks, depots, golf course, motor pool and waste deposition. Three years later following a lot of management of an entirely German speaking staff, the Vietnam war was over. Subsequently US Department Of the Army civilian top management staff were recalled to the USA. Tom then stepped straight in to the job of Chief Buildings and Grounds, Stuttgart Metro. He planned and spent carefully on major contracts to the delight of the military top brass. Within 2 years the DOA civilian Chief of Buildings and Grounds, Hq US Army Europe and 7th Army comes down from Heidelberg. He spends about two minutes in Tom's office. Tom says 'I'm a production engineer'. He says 'I can see that; (glancing around the walls at the maze of planned projects), and I want you to join me at Headquarters. Off went Tom to the beautiful university town of Heidelberg on top Deutschmark, (by German Public Service standards) where he excelled as in the past. (Scroll of Appreciation illustrated).
In the following years things were nowhere near as dramatic as in the those preceding. Suffice to say they were similar to that of any middle aged man in middle management in the 1970's. Good pay, good times, good reputation, and a very good ski instructor as recognised by adult German participants and ski school management.
It was the end of the mining boom in Queensland. Tom felt extremely lucky to be back and in a good position with a famous employer. Brown and Root (project managers), partnered with Fleur (Engineers), to build the (then) 350M Oaky Creek Coal project 70 km north - east of Emerald. Tom was hired as manager of construction for the new mining township of Tieri, On completion of the project however, continuity was not to be. Job opportunities vanished both in Queensland and internationally. Job offers in the southern states did not appeal to Tom. He had found his feet in Queensland and like his father had done in the 20's and 30's, wouldn't budge. Subsequently with money 'burning a hole in his pocket', and a sense of melancholy, Tom bought a failing art gallery then located in George Street, Brisbane (the Young Masters Gallery), and moved it across town to a ground floor location in 344 Queen Street next to the (then) Brisbane Stock Exchange. This spelt the beginning of a new life for Tom in the visual arts sphere, commencing with 8 years at the new address. In later years Tom tried desperately to get back in to his engineering profession however the mere fact that he lacked continuity in an associated field coupled with advancing age and distaste for the idea of moving south to industrial hubs of Sydney or Melbourne thwarted all attempts.
The stock market crash of 1987 and extraordinarily high interest rates did little to boost the expectations of any art gallery owner in Australia. Hundreds of art galleries were swept away in the turmoil. At the same time however old central business district strip shopping centres were demolished and replaced by high-rise buildings which featured eminent foyers. These attracted a breed of art exhibitors hated by the established galleries. Wheras the typical business-man used to take a walk at lunchtime to the stock exchange or buy a sandwich, now they stayed in their high-rise 'offices- with-a-view', no longer venturing on to the main thoroughfares, having lunches through other arrangements in their business suites and catching a lift down to see 'the art exhibition' in their foyer, or collect their motor vehicle in the basement. Still, Tom battled on, still managing to stage a couple of profitable exhibitions. To add to his woes however, the building owners decided to renovate the entire 18 floors of his high-rise building and add an extra floor on top. Tom was offered an 'olive-branch' in the form of a new modern art gallery opposite his current ground floor space together with parking and rent concessions. He was forced however through circumstances beyond his control to decline the offer due to capital-gains tax obligations made as a result of the building-owners offer. He was then forced out of his space by the demolition team and banned from trading in the CBD for 2 years.
Tom struck an arrangement then with the (then) famous Queensland reproduction antique furniture dealer in Fortitude Valley, Bell Brothers. He set up an attractive display dispersed with superb antique reproductions. Bell, however was also seriously effected by the stock market crash and went bankrupt like so many others. Tom moved to Sunshine Beach broke as a church-mouse and set up a studio re-establishing business contacts with his old Brisbane customer-base. Business bounced back and with lower overheads did as well as ever until 2000 selling exclusively to Brisbane corporate clients. Then city building architecture changed to open-plan and glass so that interiors were no longer offering much space for wall-art. Sales dried up dramatically.
Due to local Noosa demographics, lack of capital and realisation that a shopfront and at least 120 square metre floor space in Hastings Street was the only chance of business longevity and profitability in Noosa, it was to be 'struggle-street' in the future! Eighteen years later it is no different, with less galleries than in 2000 and serious representative galleries all but non-existent in the Noosa region despite a significant increase in the population. Of course the impact of modern internet, photo and video technology has had an irreversible impact on consumer spending, a situation which is unlikely to change this century.
Perplexed, disheartened, and holding only a minor cash position, Tom realised that furthering his education, though very good for his feeling of self-worth would do little to improve his engineering job prospects. What's more, he had hardly enough to pay for a good qualification. A lack of self-confidence seeped in to his demeanour and a degree of boredom with the whole 'gallery thing'. He had seen the future as the Internet, but as yet, did not have a website, though readily available. He would hook-up eventually in 2002 when he thought he could engage successfully in on-line sales. Aboriginal art, a field foreign to him also struck a blow on 'white-fella art' sales.
A major art sale, the last of it's kind for Tom, had been made to Australia Post Queensland in 98 with the entire upstairs art fit- out for the newly renovated main city post office colonial building in Queen Street. When asked by Queensland management there what he was going to do with the money, he said he was thinking about a documentary video project. They pondered, yet made no comment. They probably knew it was a bottomless pit or wanted him to come back and set up a new gallery operation again in Queen Street. Tom's cut from the sale was however, too small. Anyway, he had experienced enough of city life and the enormous personal sacrifice and capital requirements of running a dynamic retail city business. Without family support it would be insurmountable. Intellectual property had to be protected too, something which at the time was too difficult for him due to the cost of technology and perhaps computer-tech ignorance on his part.
Back in Tom's teenage years the prospect of movie-making had rested heavily on his mind. He all but purchased a Paillard Bolex H8 movie camera or a Pathe 9.5. He never quite had enough to make the plunge. Good thing too probably. He would have gone nut's physically cutting and splicing colour movie film which cost 'an-arm-and-a-leg' to buy and have processed at consistently high standard.
And so it was, that in 1999 Tom purchased a top of the then current digital range, Panasonic Mini-DV consumer video camera. It was a model already being used by international photo journalists in demanding reporting roles in war zones and emerging economies. The film definition was outstanding and even by 2018 standards it ranks very highly especially in medium to close encounters. Tom's plan was to produce a one hour documentary about the headland section of Noosa National Park.
Tom threw discretion to the wind with no thought for eventual marketing costs and pursued his goal with zero local assistance or guidance. He wanted his project to be 'original', to be from the heart, to be devoid of all outside human influences. Tom spent all of 1999 and 2000 shooting material. In fact it was eventually by 2002 to amount to sixty hours of raw material. It was only when he had enough digital tape 'in the can' to start editing in 2000 that he splashed out with the last of his money to buy his first computer, an Apple Power Mac G450, together with 2 Mitsubishi 17 inch pro monitors; (the latter, still available and still the best in 2018 for colour balance, see SB studio photo on the HOME page). He could not afford a recording deck so he had to employ the camera as his deck with fire-wire feed directly to the computer, editing in Final Cut Pro. This meant he was already in trouble financially. Then the most inconceivable misfortune descended upon him. In 2004 a severe electrical storm hit the building in which he had his studio and living quarters. Although Tom had shut off all electrical devices he overlooked the house antenna. It received a direct hit. Subsequently all his electronic equipment mother boards were rendered 'cactus' and uneconomically repairable; computer hard drives fragmented beyond recovery. With no insurance that was the end of his movie-making for all practical purposes. Misery! It was all downhill financially from that point onwards.
Though regarded by experts in the field, that what Tom produced was of rather high standard for the point in time, Tom found that the general public had no idea whatsoever about video production and the thousands of hours that went in to the project. He had not been able to get any backing from the 'powers-that-be'. The environment was taken for granted in those days and the diversion of funds to his type of project was simply taboo at the time. He did get a local newspaper interview; (illustrated), yet Tom was simply 'out-on-a-limb', fifteen years ahead of 'the times'. He found he had to trudge from resort to resort from Caloundra to Tewantin flogging 'one-on one' like done with a horse and cart in the old days selling clothes props, with the exception that he was not actually shouting out from the street. He remembers one resort owner saying he felt sorry for him and he was only doing Tom a favour in buying a copy of the (then) one hour VHS tape for AU$24.95. Tom had mixed success with agents such as the SC airport, ABC Shop, newsagents and The Ginger Factory at Yandina. Eventually he went to DVD. Still, regardless of fine product presentation and POS advertising sales were abominable. Losses were assessed at approx. $40,000.
In the meantime, the internet had become more sophisticated. Tom established two beautiful websites entailing a vast amount of effort. He also learned basic SEO. Subsequently he was able to make occasional online sales of original oil paintings and watercolours by established painters who had supported him for years. Still, the slow death of the traditional art market persisted, losses mounted and sales dried up completely by 2012 whereupon Tom chose to go in to voluntary liquidation to the banks. He lived in a tent for three years at the infamous John's Landing (since bought-out by Council and closed down), on the Noosa River near Lake Cooroiba. Co-incidentlly Tom suffered from serious age-related illness, was relocated to fine government housing in Tewantin and is still under treatment. Nevertheless, he has since produced two new websites, this page being part of the most recently published website, incorporating this time an ONLINE SHOP.
This new website is a departure from the 'norm' in that it is ALL about Tom, his life and his art. No longer are ORIGINAL paintings being offered, rather GICLEE CANVAS REPRODUCTIONS in very large dimensions, of the original artworks which he produced mainly in the 1970's together with photographs which he has taken throughout his lifetime. Q.E.D.