Chris Currie made his initial artistic mark as a 16-year-old with a paintbrush and a Roman numeral.
He'd been challenged to prove his worth when applying for his first job, a window dresser with a Hamilton furnishing company.
That was 46 years ago and he's now regarded as one of the country's leading exhibition designers with many of his skills Rotorua Museum-honed. His talents are credited with, and we quote here form museum publicity material, "transforming a small, provincial museum into an internationally recognised attraction''.
This isn't spin doctor stuff, it's self _ evident. Chris Currie's artistic professionalism's ingrained into the museum's exhibits, past and present.
His latest display was of his intricately crafted ships-in-bottles, incorporating a touch of Currie family history, one featuring a replica of the 1840s immigrant ship Duchess of Argyle, captained by his great great grandfather.
Like an alarming number of those Our People talks to Chris Currie's health isn't flash. In 2008 a tumour on his spine was diagnosed. He's pragmatic about it. "It's gobbled up one of my vertebrae so a steel plate's been inserted, it's a cancer that's not curable but is manageable.'' As well as radio and chemotherapy he's had a steam cell transplant.
Rather than dwell on his health we encourage him to walk us through his life from that first Roman numeral brush stroke. His take on that is it indicated he had ticket writing abilities.
Four years on he moved to Melbourne, window dressing for a major department store, subsequently transferring to the DIC in Wellington.
A year later he was back in Melbourne working in a graphic art studio and meeting wife-to-be Pam. Their 30-year marriage ended in 2003.
His museum career was launched at the Waikato Museum as a fine arts assistant. By one of life's quirks he was working alongside his former secondary school art teacher, Campbell Smith, the museum's fine arts curator.
"It was a good museum, teaching me a lot but it was window dressing where I learned the importance of space, balance, lighting, it was an amazing background to have.''
It was Chris Currie who designed and crafted the model of the present Hamilton-based Waikato Museum. "It's interesting going back and understanding the spaces.''
That followed a research trip to the US, assisted by a De Beer Trust grant, to have a look-see at similar museums there.
His Waikato work completed, he took to the road, spending a year touring the country with Pam in a Kombi van . . . "those were good days.''
His next paid employment was as exhibitions' officer at the newly opened Waitakere Arts Centre.
Two years on he arrived in Rotorua at the time the museum was under the directorship of the `quirky' John Perry. Creatively, the two bonded. "There were some amazing years with John ... we'd pretty much think of an idea, pull work off a shelf and put it on the wall.''
There were also a number of uniquely Rotorua exhibitions. Think the architecturally award-winning Taking the Cure, Elvis in Geyserland, Daughters of the Land. "Daughters was only designed to stay a year but remained three, it's a slice of our rural history I believe should still be there.''
With Perry's departure the museum became, as Chris puts it, "less random, more ordered, business-like''. He was appointed exhibitions' designer.
In 2003, and after 19 years, Chris left to become a freelancer in the same field.
"It was time to take a new direction.'' He's travelled many directions since, his work including `re-doing' (his word) the Waipu Museum, working on an Akaroa museum exhibition dedicated to Frank Worsley, captain of the Endurance which took Shakelton on his final Antarctic voyage and, in contrast, a textile collection at Tauranga's Elms Mission House.
He met present partner Lyndall Hermitage there; she was on the committee co-ordinating the display. They have continued to work together "We share common interests, she's excellent for bouncing ideas off and a person who's very good at drilling holes in walls''.
He regularly shares his skills at Te Papa-organised workshops, while his current commissions are creating a "from scratch'' installation at the Mangawhai museum with a similar assignment for its Ashburton counterpart.
With such variety we're compelled to ask where all those creative ideas spring from?
"I just visualise a concept in my head, I generally think my first idea is the best one, it's quite an intuitive thing.''
Over the last couple of years Chris has turned to sculpting the female form, with Hinuera stone his medium. "It's as soft as timber, I don't need specific tools, just a chisel, rough file and sandpaper making it easy on my back.''
His works have become focal points in the stunning Mourea garden he credits Lyndall with creating. ``We have a little garden art show each summer so it's satisfying to be able to contribute some figurative works, I like to keep my head reasonably occupied.''
Born: Hamilton, 1950
Education: Woodstock Primary, Peachgrove Intermediate, Fairfield College
Family: Partner Lyndall Hermitage. Brothers Terrance (also lives in Rotorua), David (Sydney) and his twin Selwyn (Cook's Beach). "As twins we're not terribly alike, I'd say similar but different.''
Interests: Art, sculpting, crafting ships into bottles, music (classical and jazz), sailing, tramping, camping, fishing both lake and sea. "when I'm at the beach I always chuck a line in'', his garden
Favourite Art: "I love anything well-executed and really value pieces that show skill. I really love contemporary New Zealand artists but the Old Masters too. I like to see thick paint, brush strokes, the Old Masters are exquisite for this.''
Personal Philosophies: "I like to think I treat people the way I would like to be treated.'' "Show integrity.''
This is the final Our People for 2012 however the series will return for its fourth successive year in 2013. To nominate someone to be profiled please email firstname.lastname@example.org with Our People: Attention Jill Nicholas in the subject line.