Cotter’s legacy of design, art
James Philip Cotter July 1924 – February 17, 2016
The late Jim Cotter’s legacy will live on in his elegant furniture designs, architectural work and his vibrant art.
Indeed, Jim’s architectural skills earned him the distinction of being honoured with an Apostolic Blessing by Pope John Paul 11 in recognition of his architectural design of Matamata’s Holy Angels Church.
Creativity, and the ability to express this in diverse ways, was second nature to Jim who was also blessed with a good Kiwi No 8 wire mentality; this no doubt honed during his career as a WWII Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft engineer.
The eldest of Hinuera farmers Phil and Hilda Cotter’s six children, Jim couldn’t leave Matamata High School fast enough and, at 16, was helping Dad on the farm.
Two years later, however, he enlisted in the RNZAF, latterly serving with 14 Fighter Squadron in Japan (J Force).
While serving with the Occupation Forces, Jim belonged to an art club comprising New Zealand, Australian, English and Amer- ican servicemen, as well as some Japanese artists.
Always top in art at school, Jim’s interest in painting increased ten-fold in Japan and, three years after his 1947 return to Matamata, he founded the Matamata Art Club, which comprised 15 painters.
Meanwhile, Jim had met the love of his life, Patricia (Pat) Owens with whom he was to enjoy a wonderful 62 years of marriage until her death in 2011.
The couple were blessed with five children, Maria, Susan, Shane (deceased), Giselle and Janine who remember a loving, supportive and entertaining Dad.
In 1954, at Matamata College art teacher Jim Ayres’ suggestion, the art club became the Matamata Society of Arts Incorporated, which was possibly one of the first small town societies in the country.
It still thrives today at its Firth Tower home.
Jim, who had worked variously as a truck driver and furniture salesman following his demob, resumed his architectural diploma studies.
During his sales career he was regularly asked to draw up building plans and would also design furniture for customers.