Geoffrey Gilmour b.1947
Born in Warren, western NSW. My mother’s family owned the town’s
hardware store. Her father also trained horses. My father was from
Sydney. At the age of 20 he flew a Lancaster bomber in WWII. He
was awarded the DFC for his service. After the war due to the large
number of pilots created in that conflict there were few jobs in
aviation so he took a job driving oil tankers delivering to rural NSW
where he met his future wife Leila.
Eventually thanks to a new found paternity he took a job as a
commercial pilot so the little family moved from Warren to Sydney.
Within a few years we had moved to Indonesia just in time to be
thrown out along with the Dutch colonial masters.
We lived in Holland for a couple of years before dad’s next job flying in the Belgian
Congo. My schooling went from Dutch to French. By that time I was nine years old
and dad decided I should be educated in English so I was enroled in a boys only
boarding school in Southern Rhodesia.
Four years later I was despatched to more boarding school life this time in England
where I completed high school and managed to survive the rigours of public school
by immersing myself in art, sport and extra curricular drama.
We’d moved to Beirut in the mean time because dad needing to upgrade his skills from prop planes (DC 4’s, 6’s) to flying
jets.
A year before finishing school (1965) while I was on holiday in Beirut mum was killed in a car crash.
On completing my “A” levels I returned to Beirut where dad gave me two options. One was to go back to England and
find a job or go to Australia. Not having lived there since early childhood it seemed like a good move. The land of my
birth. And I’d had enough of grey scale England.
I worked at the ABC in Sydney’s Gore Hill as a news camera assistant. That job lasted about a year until the axe fell.
Got a job in retail. The IN shop. At the time Sydney’s only fashion boutique for men.
All through my school years I’d participated in drama productions (mostly playing female roles) so I took an agent and
started fronting up for auditions affectionately known as cattle calls. Did a few small TV parts until I got a six month tour
with the Australian Theatre for Young People touring Queensland’s primary schools.
After the tour I auditioned for a new stage show, an Australian version of the hit Broadway production, HAIR
.
A solid 18 months of 8 shows a week and I was ready for a change of scene. Took off for India travelling mostly overland.
Hung around in India for a while and then just kept going west finishing up in England. Dad was by this time flying for
Japan Air Lines and living in Yokohama. He supplied a JAL ticket for me to fly back to Oz.
Mum and Dad circa 1960
Dad in his DFC uniform
A new show was about to launch in Australia. I lined up again in an audition for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.  I was offered the part of one of three priests. This didn’t appeal to me so I followed my girlfriend up north to Cairns and the Atherton tablelands. After a few months, running out of money, I came back to Sydney and auditioned again for Superstar…evidently one of the cast, Paul Joseph, had pulled out. The part was that of one of the apostles. A role which suited my imagination. Unfortunately, six months later, an onstage accident had turned me into a paraplegic at the age of 25.
It took me about ten years to get used to the spinal injury and the world of wheelchairs. I turned to art initially as a kind of Occupational Therapy, but I’d always had a love of painting and had kept at it over the years. I got a place in the National Art School in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. So began my tentative career.