A PORTADOWN man’s painting of the Titanic has been chosen to grace the front of a commemorative special edition Zippo lighter.
Jon O’Hara completed the painting of Titanic and her sister ship Olympic about seven years ago but, with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Belfast-made liner this year, he was approached by Zippo for the special commission.
Jon, who has been painting for nearly 25 years and has a studio in Church Street, works in his brother Nigel O’Hara’s jewellery shop, and it was through this that the contact with the world-famous lighter manufacturer was made.
He said, “It’s the type of thing people might buy as a present or just a commemorative item.”
Jon’s original painting, which was sold a number of years ago, was based on an official photograph taken in 1912 in Thompson dock in Belfast and held by the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
He said, “I approached the museum and explained what I wanted to do and the head curator at the time, Michael McCaughan, gave me permission to buy a copy of the photo and use it for the painting.
“He was a real authority on the subject and it was quite a privilege to be allowed to use it.”
RMS Olympic was the lead ship of the ocean liners built for the White Star Line, with the others being Titanic and Britannic. On the day the Titanic sunk, April 15, 1912, Olympic received the distress call from her sister ship and headed to assist in the rescue.
However, when she was about 100 miles away from Titanic’s last known position, she received a message from the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia saying that the Titanic had foundered and that around “705 souls, crew and passengers, latter nearly all women and children” had been saved. More than 1,500 people lost their lives.
Olympic served a long and illustrious career from 1911 to 1935, including service as a troopship during World War I, earning the nickname ‘Old Reliable’. She was the largest ocean liner in the world for two periods in 1911–13, interrupted only by the brief career of the slightly larger Titanic.
Jon’s painting, of which there were 900 limited edition prints produced, shows the Titanic in the foreground and Olympic behind her. Prints, measuring 480cm x 400cm, are available for £75 and the Zippo lighter is available from selected jewellers and tobacconists at £25.95.