Holy smoking nurses! Who was the designer of a hospital in Hastings in 1961?

Nurses, patients and smoking. They were all there in a sketch by an unidentified patient and artist of hospital life in Hastings in 1961. Photo/Supplied

The hunt is on to identify a dab-hand artist responsible for a cartoon depicting a ward at Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Hastings 60 years ago.

The framed but unsigned sketch is in the hands of Paraparaumu woman Lynn Evans, who grew up in Hawke’s Bay, where her late father, Bill Kyle, was hospitalized around September 1961.

Now Evans wants to return the sketch to the artist’s family, or see it archived or placed in a museum in Hawke’s Bay.

The cartoon reflects everyday life on the ward and also pokes fun at life in the hospital.

Staff are depicted smoking and a patient appears to be sneakily siphoning alcohol from a bottle behind a nurse’s back.

The cartoon, however, depicts real people – three patients and six staff members, including a “Dr GJ Taine”.

It was apparently drawn by the man in the bed next to Evans’ father and was couriered to his father after the artist was released.

The artist had encouraged Bill Kyle to paint to bide time in the hospital, and the sketch includes images of the birds painted on the ward wall, as well as postage stamps from the time.

Evans said her father was in the bed by the window and had been admitted for six weeks for back operations, under the supervision of back specialist Dr GJ Taine.

She recalled that when she was 5, she was not allowed to enter the hospital but waved to her father from outside – sometimes with a recorder, a musical instrument from the popular schools of the time and which she had bought to play for him.

But otherwise, she said she didn’t know how to find a connection to the clearly qualified and likely well-known artist.

Hawke’s Bay Today investigations have found similarities to the work of New Zealand draftsman and draftsman John McNamara (1918-2001).

Founder and member of a short-lived New Zealand cartoonists association, he worked mainly in England, for London magazines and newspapers, becoming the artist of the famous tales of Francis Durbridge’s character, Paul Temple, fiction writer and detective private portrayed not only in print but also in radio and television series.

But HBT couldn’t find anything that could have placed McNamara in Hawke’s Bay at any time, and investigations had been by early Friday afternoon, uh, empty.

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