Ever hear the one about the Prince of Wales and the knockabout artist from Kanimbla Valley?
It’s not a joke. It’s a true story and Warwick Fuller, 70, the artist in question, can hardly believe it himself.
For the third time in his life, Fuller was selected to be His Royal Highness, Prince Charles’s, official Australian tour artist, leading to him covering the Commonweath Games Royal Tour this year.
“It just seems weird,” he told the Gazette. “It is a fluke, but also the result of hard work. Prince Charles could have picked anybody off the shelf and he reached in and happened to grab me.”
Prince Charles found Fuller’s work in London more than a decade ago. A watercolourist himself the Prince has a habit of choosing an artist to accompany him on his tours.
“I’m so humbled. It’s been three times [a Royal tour]. I don’t want to put the mockers on it [to say a fourth tour will happen].”
The fruits of that whirlwind 2018 Commonweath Games Royal Tour in Queensland, which went on to the Northern Territory, and later saw him stay in the honeymoon suite at one of HRH’s properties, Dumfries House, in the United Kingdom, will be on show in Katoomba this weekend. Other works from this past year will also be part of the exhibition, which opens on Saturday September 22 at Lost Bear Gallery.
Fuller’s work is now so highly coveted all over the world, the largest majestic work in this show costs a whopping $62,000.
The son of a locksmith said he never imagined the heights he would reach through his landscape painting, and certainly not the connection he would have with the future king of Australia.
“In my thirties we were poor as church mice.
“I was always this – an artist – I was just fortunate enough and naive enough to take the plunge.”
Fuller said His Royal Highness, who is the same age as him, worked extremely hard on the tour, but still found time to make Fuller a cup of tea and also offered to carry his paintbox. Some of Fuller’s works now hang in the Royals bedroom – the Royal couple has 14 of his works in their collection.
Fuller has been a full-time plein-air painter for 40 years, with more than 60 solo exhibitions, but the loss in recent years of his wife, his mother and his dog left him at times bereft.
“I went to the edge and I pulled myself out. After months ... I got out of my pyjamas and went back to painting.”
Fuller said he’s still excited by painting and never complacent about “saying things in a new way [and] feeling every brushstroke”.
And he is also still hopeful that one day His Royal Highness will take him up on his regular offer to paint off his deck on the Kanimbla.
Fuller’s exhibition at Katoomba’s Lost Bear Gallery on Lurline Street runs until October 29.