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MSW Artist Profile~Peter Vill

This months MSW Artist Profile features modeler Peter Vill (PeteV), as he shares his thoughts, and fantastic model subjects with us!

"The Model Shipwrights (http://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/) Artist Q&A is a monthly site feature. Basically, it’s an interview with artists and modelers of the ship modelling world. Whoever they may be, the artists featured in Model Shipwrights Artist Q&A are all highly respected members of our worldwide community; people who have greatly influenced the hobby overall, all in their own unique way. As we spotlight these artists with this Q&A and photo feature, they return the favor to us by sharing a piece of their own private world."

A little about me…

Q. [Tell us about yourself. Your age, Where do you live, Married, Kids, Occupation, Other hobbies and interests?]

A. "Who am I, I’m the second of three sons born to Belgian parents who settled in the UK after the Second World War. My father participated in that conflict both as an enlisted solider and later as a member of the Belgian resistance, he died aged 91 two years ago, my mother who is some 16 years younger was still at school during those very dark days. I was born on November the 11th 1958 which means that this year I will celebrate my 49th birthday.

While I was trained as a heavy motor vehicle technician/engineer and all of my working life has involved the maintenance and repair of passenger or heavy goods vehicles the last 21 years have been spent in senior management positions. I moved to Bristol in the South West of England (That’s near Bath, American visitors to this country seem to know Bath but not the larger city of Bristol) 21 years ago and am presently employed as a senior lecturer in the Heavy Vehicle department at S&B Automotive Academy.

I have been happily married to Diane for the last 28 years and we have two sons, 22 and 20 years of age, the eldest achieved a grade 1 with honours in history from Kent university Canterbury while the younger more practical son is an apprentice mains electrician, I am equally proud of them both.

Through work I have recently been involved with a number of projects aimed at assisting people in the third world to improve their health care services. I was fortunate enough to go to Nigeria to train workshop staff in the manufacture of a motorcycle trailer ambulance. I was due to fly out to Cambodia to carry out a similar exercise when I required an emergency operation to repair a detached retina, I still hope that the Cambodian trip will take place, presently I am assisting a Belgian doctor in Kenya with his ideas for a trailer medical centre.

Other hobbies, well that could turn out to be a very long list and could get me into trouble (LOL) my wife would tell you that I have an interest in almost everything mechanical and will collect any thing as long as it involves nuts, bolts and gears or represents some thing that had nuts, bolts and gears.
I have a simple rule which I try apply not only to my hobbies and interests but to life in general, if I enjoy it, do it, if I don’t, I won’t. On a lighter note, firstly, I really enjoy reading; the subject matter will normally fall into three categories. Technical, I just loved finding out how you can use compressed air to launch a torpedo without blowing bubbles, History, any period as long as the book is well written and finally anything by the hand of Terry Pratchett, his Disc World series has me holding my ribs in painful mirth.
A close second would be film, I enjoy the experience of a well made film, one that makes you forget your concerns and generates laughter or one that make you think and question your beliefs or the status quo. Thirdly and this must be the Belgian in me surfacing, I enjoy preserving fruit in alcohol, well to be honest eating the fruit and drinking the liquid. I make sloe gin, blackberry whiskey, blackberry vodka, blackberry rum, cherry vodka, cherry rum, blackberry brandy, plum vodka, I think you get the idea, put the fruit in with the mother-in-laws sweet at Christmas and she will sleep all afternoon, that’s my idea of peace on earth."

Q. [Tell us about both your first modeling experience, and your first ship modeling experience.]

A. "Airfix, without a doubt Airfix aged 6 probably, understandably subjects with swastikas while not being banned did not attract any praise or interest, much later when my mother and father talked about those times I understood the revulsion for that symbol. My first ship/boat, I remember as a small boy buying a model fishing boat, I cannot say for sure but I think it was made by Revell. I was so excited that on the way home from Bentley Heath post Office I opened the box and examined the parts. On my arrival home I immediately started to build the kit, imagine my horror when I noticed the life boat was missing. Imagine the scene a little boy who knows in his mind that HE lost the part walking the 400 yards between his home and the post office time after time in the hope that he will find it, I never did.

I think this experience mentally scared me for it would be about 42 years before I would even think about modelling some thing that required liquid to support it, the years in between being spent modelling tanks and aircraft, mostly aircraft.

Q. [When was the first time ship subjects as a preferred genre appealed to you?]

A "2006, the amount of time spent scratch building or detailing aircraft kits was getting to me, I was finding that I was not enjoying the hobby so I applied my rule, I purchase a ICM XXIII and built it from the box , well almost. I found that I enjoyed submarines (no life boats to loose) and they also had a technical interest. A small fortune later I had a number of books and a very good contact/friend in Germany called Olaf Krabbenhoeft of Modellmarine.de and U-Boot im Focus fame, yes I was hooked. I now have a number U-Boots & Submarines in my pile as well as a Battle Ship, a Cruiser and 2 S- Boots."

Q. [Where do you draw your ship building inspirations?]

A. "I acquire my inspiration from a number of sources, it can be simply opening a book and seeing a photo, it has happened because of a conversation with a friend or fellow modeller, visiting a museum, reading a book and it has certainly been caused by seeing the work of other modellers displayed on the internet.
There are a number of fellow members of the MSW web site whose work I believe is truly outstanding, for instance modelling water, I am always amazed at the skill displayed by some members in this one area alone, in fact I would almost say intimidated by their ability.
I have promised myself to attempt modelling water at some time in the future."

Q. [Tell us about what, in your opinion, is the very best thing about ship modeling in general]

A. "Without a doubt the best thing is the ship modelling community, that includes both members and none members of MSW. When I first started to get interested in ship modelling I could not believe how friendly and helpful every one was and I must say still is. I understand that the ship modelling family is quiet small and this may be the reason why I have found them to be generally more helpful and friendly, there appears not to be that nasty competitive edge found among other modelling groups which I find refreshing. Finally I like the fact that a number of the people who answered my calls for help have become friends with whom I exchange mail not only limited to ship modelling."

Q. [OK, now tell us about what, in your opinion, is the worst thing about ship modelling.]

A."Starting late, I wish I had become involved earlier!
So many models so little time.
Build time, ship building takes time.
Painting, aircraft and tanks generally don’t have so many fiddly little bits that all require a different colour, the last coat of varnish always has me worried, I have lost 2 models to an error or problem at this stage."

Q. [Tell us about your all time favorite modeling era/period and why?]

A. "Give me time to settle in, at present it appears to be WWII mostly submarines however I do have modern submarines as well as a WWI cruiser and battle ship in my waiting to be built pile."

Q. [Throughout your hobby/modeling career, which competition that you have participated in stays as your most "favorite"? And why?]

A. "I used to compete at all levels with both models and figures but I found that this was effecting my enjoyment of the hobby and so I stopped medal hunting, I very rarely enter competitions now and that includes the annual internal competitions at my local IPMS branch."

Q. [Of any and all of the modelling related awards that you have won or earned, which one of these is the most important to you?]

A."Model making in all its forms has resulted in me meeting people who have become good friends; there are two particular gentlemen, Bob Partridge and Geoff Kemp who are probably the best friends I have ever had.
It was Bob who taught me how to scratch build aircraft in 1/32 scale so I suppose regarding awards it would have been the time we both entered scratch builds and I not only got a first but best in show."

Q. [Please take a bit of time now and tell us some of your favorite modeling "things"...tools, reference materials, or a particular ship or ship model kits.]

A. "The reference books I purchased when I became interested in modelling Type VIIC U-Boots. Which I must add were shortly followed by a couple of book on the “Flower Class” Corvettes."

Q. [What is your all time, number one, modeling aquisition, or most favorite ship kit ever?]

A. "The ICM 1/144 scale Type XXIII U-Boot, this model was responsible for my introduction to ship modelling and I have know built four of them, three of which had conversions carried out to them."

Q. [What's your best or most recent ship kit purchase? Details please!]

A. "All of them as I am looking forward to building them all in good time."

Q. [Time to get a little deep...What are your thoughts, opinions, and overall evaluation(s) of the ship kit industry?]

A. "Speaking as a relatively new ship modeller I would say that this branch of the hobby is looking health, with new releases from the larger main stream manufactures along with the resin offerings from the smaller supplier the future looks good.
Unlike other areas of the modelling world there are still large numbers of ships/submarines from all periods that have yet to be represented in model form, however if every other release was a “New” Bismarck or Hood I would start to be concerned."

Q. [If you could model one ship, any ship, what would it be (May or may not be available in kit form!) And why?]

A. "I think this question is slightly unfair, most if not all modellers have large hoards of kits which are all special at some time or other. To answer the question I think I would choose either a WWII German Type XIV (Milchkuh) or a Type IX U-Boot, I can’t see either of these being released by a major manufacturer but they would both be interesting models and large ones at that."

Q. [What, in your opinions, would be the all-time modelling “no no’s" ?...]

A. "This has been said before but I will repeat it as I believe it is good advice….. Don’t take yourself or the hobby too seriously, after all you are supposed to enjoy it. Accept that you maybe better than others and that others will be better than you, help those you can and learn from the rest. Do not criticise for the sake of it, be constructive, don’t be too anal you risk becoming one.
Oh yes, keep your hands and fingers behind the scalpel and the direction in which you are pushing it."

Q. [OK, mate, now tell us one (or more!) of your own modelling secrets...]

A. "I am not aware of having any secrets, I may have techniques that others have not discovered but they are not secrets they are simply questions that have not been asked. I belong to a club in which every member is happy to share his/her successes and failures, I am happy to share any information that I have, all you need to do is ask the question."

Thanks Pete! Ed.
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About the Author

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...


Thanks for sharing Peter! Gator
NOV 28, 2007 - 08:41 PM
Thanks Peter and Gunny for a great feature. Cheers Sean
NOV 28, 2007 - 10:09 PM
Great work! I really like the KVII, but I am partial to Russian Armor.
NOV 29, 2007 - 07:37 AM
Hi All, I would like to thank you all for the kind comments that have been made about the samples of my work that "Gunny" posted with my profile particularly as most of it is not related to ship modelling, I can`t see a Soviet KV or a Belgian Gladiator floating for long. I will assure you that as time goes on you will see more ship/submarine related subjects being modelled by myself. This friendly and helpful attitude is just what I made reference to in the text contained within my profile, as a new boy to this area of modelling (Ship Building) I feel honored to be asked to contribute to the MSW web site, and thank you all for being asked to do so and for my work being so well received, this is what makes YOU a great bunch. I hope to shortly be able to post pictures of the following submarine related subjects, " November Class" Soviet Submarine, Japanese Pearl Harbour Midget Submarine and finally a modern German 212 Class A, I only hope you enjoy these as well. Thanks again PeteV
NOV 29, 2007 - 07:57 AM
Dear friend, I catch this a bit late it seems, but then I really enjoyed reading your very in depth profile, About your builds, i am very partial about your always impeccable submarines but that's because I feel quite salty these days I wish you all the best for your future builds and will watch this space for even more from your very talented hands, keep well Jean-Bernard
NOV 29, 2007 - 09:43 AM
That was a great profile, we got to meet a talented (and amusing) modeller. The modelling questions were good. I especially liked Pete's responses about competitions "medal hunting" and secrets "happy to share any info I have..." Really Pete is so much a core part of that community he was talking about, the one we all are apart of here at MSW. oh, almost forgot - AWESOME models, love them all (biplane, tank, subs). Good on ya Pete! (and well done Gunny).
DEC 08, 2007 - 01:57 AM
Thanks Wink, I'm having a great time myself as well, meeting the "modeler's behind the callsigns"....would you be interested in a Q&A session, my friend?
DEC 08, 2007 - 06:00 AM
What a cool idea! Gator
DEC 08, 2007 - 04:12 PM
Hello to everyone Gunny, I think that a profile on that VERY talented member of MSW who goes by the name of Wink would be an excellent addition to the series. I have been very fortunate to get to know Wink over the last year or so and not only is he an excellent modeler but also has a well developed sense of humour, so come on Gunny don`t ask him just send him the paper work. PeteV
DEC 08, 2007 - 05:14 PM
Hi Pete! I am catching up six weeks of being away from computers! Congratulations on a multi-faceted and skilled modeling! All your models look fantastic!! Keep up the excellent modeling and production rate Cheers, Skipper
JAN 06, 2008 - 11:40 AM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.