The caption underneath the painting says "Ngataki - hove to in a storm off the Tasmanian coast, 28th Jan 1935" The glasses in the top right hand of the photograph are Johnny Wrays.
The reason why people such as Johnny Wray and his exploits fire the public imagination is multi-layered.
First, such adventures as he enjoyed symbolise the dream of throwing off the constraints and demands of ordinary life to live out a different sort of authenticity, one that appeals to many - Johnny Wrays life and adventures were a life less compromised by the demands of modernity, convention and conforming. Such an approach is one that we would all like to take if perhaps we were a little more brave (or crazy!). Of course today many do take up this kind of life ( The largess of western consumer culture makes it easier) and many (such as myself) contemplate such adventures at the older end of life when responsibilities and the 'worry angst' have been discharged ------ BUT, Johnny Wray took up the challenge in his prime, in the high tide, full flood of his imagination - and as a result is a living symbol of that quest for a different kind of self realisation. In the words of the writer Joseph Campbell, Johnny Wray lived out Campbells exhortation to "Follow Your Bliss."
From a Jungian psychological view he also embodies a different living example of 'The Journey of the Hero' which is a kind of 'Holy Grail' search, which is a search for self realisation, or that which matters most, the ground of our being or 'God' (where the name 'God' is simply a place holder for that which the individual places as his or her supreme value). Everyone of us lives this out in our own lives to a greater or lesser degree.
From a Kiwi, New Zealand point of view he is a living example (quite literally) of the 'Can Do' attitude, which in Kiwi parlance is the 'Number 8 Wire' mentally - that is - we can do it, and we can do it with the minimum of resources, even if we have to resort to using number 8 fencing wire when the circumstances demand it ---- which all has deep resonances with our colonial Kiwi, breaking in the land, farmer, labourer, worker, 'making do' history.
Good oh ya mate; good on ya Johnny, you're a bloody legend!