Unsung HeroesRevealing the Remarkable in Seemingly Ordinary People
Well known for his generous philanthropy, Peter Taylor has lived and worked in the Highbury/Narrogin area from the age of 14, when, arrangements made for him to be boarded with the Weise family in Highbury, he arrived in the middle of the night to be picked up and taken to their farm where he was raised and educated with Bob Weise. After Agricultural School, he continued to work with Bob on his family's farm, eventually buying a small property of his own near the Agricultural College. Hard-working and community minded, Peter has made gifts to the Narrogin Bowling Club, Narrogin Croquet Club and Arts Narrogin and upon his retirement, was seconded to work at the Narrogin Agricultural School where, for a few years, he used his farming knowledge to help the students.
An enthusiastic member of Central South Naturalist's Club, Peter has considerable knowledge of the region. Venturing to exotic, out of the way and bordering on remote areas of Western Australia with fellow members including Peter Denton, their most recent exhilarating expedition was to Goog's Track in South Australia. When they began to experience the confusion of there being two Peters wherever they went, they decided on a solution; Peter Taylor was to be known as "Pete" and Peter Denton as "Repeat." This did not always work, as even they became further confused when one called "Hey Pete" and the other responded "NO, NO! I'm Repeat," a pattern much repeated. Peter Taylor has a fine singing voice and can also be depended upon to deliver an impressive joke or anecdote at the campfire.
Peter shared his life with beloved wife Carol, a keen photographer. Often he chauffeured Carol and her camera to destinations near and far, giving her the opportunity to collect photos of the region's abundant flora.
Inspired by the Sir Claude Hotchin bequest, which he gifted to towns in regional Western Australia including Narrogin, the collection recorded a history of all WA artists from about 1890 through to the 1950's and so Carol Taylor began a collection of her own. Over ten years, she gathered works of art of considerable value. While her husband was out playing cricket or country football on weekends, Carol, with her best friend, loved to travel to Perth to search for pieces of art that appealed to her, some of value acquired for only a few dollars. Peter later learned she had squirrelled away her purchases on her return to their farmhouse, locking them in her sewing room to which only she had a key. Although Peter knew about some of the paintings Carol had purchased, it was only when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2002 and Peter shifted them into their new house in town that he realised the extent of her collection of paintings, drawing and etchings; a total of 135 works. "I didn't know whether to sell them or give them away and to my shame" Peter said "I just chucked them in the back of the ute then stacked them in a room in my house where they stayed for 10 or 15 years."
After Carol's death in 2012, Peter Taylor donated the entire art collection, estimated to be worth over $100,000, to the Narrogin community in memory of his much loved and admired wife.
With their expertise and an understanding of the significance of the gift to the Narrogin community, the crew at ARtS Narrogin at the time, with many volunteers, did an outstanding job in putting together an exhibition with curator Annette Davis so that the collection of beautiful, serene landscapes was finally brought into the light to be appreciated by everyone.
Standing in front of works in the 'Carol and Peter Taylor Collection: Landscapes from a Locked Room' Peter was presented with ARtS Narrogin's first life membership. He did not know what all the fuss was about, declaring "all I did was just give them away!"
From his friends:
"Peter is a thoroughly likeable bloke who enjoys nothing better than a good meal, some tall tales and the opportunity to share his "$50" bottle of red with friends." (That red is the one with the brand name "Taylor" which he purchased in bulk for considerably less.)
"Hard-working, much travelled and with a kind heart, Peter is a great community man. I don't think I have ever seen him without that cheery smile on his face."
Revealing the remarkable in seemly ordinary people
Portrait painted by Graham Smith 2020.
Text compiled by Jan Smith from notes provided with the nomination in 2020.