The Very Model of a Modern Major General. 2009 – 2011
Oil on canvas – 51 x 76cm
Loosely based on the image of Lord Herbert Kitchener of Khartoum. The painting is a parody of a typical British Colonial career officer from the late Victorian and early Twentieth century. While he is a commanding figure sporting a moustache, a monocle and a brace of campaign medal ribbons, he is here depicted dangling from meat hooks and hitched on his own swagger stick. “Hoist with his own petard” perhaps? Symbolically he is the penultimate puppet of Empire – The Queen of King’s enforcer. White this is an historical reference it has strong contemporary parallels in Australian culturally backward-looking militarized society. While this is an historical reference it has strong contemporary parallels in Australian culturally backward-looking militarized society. A career officer His Excellency, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retired) had not only recently been Australia’s Governor General but is one of three recipients of an anachronistically created knighthood!
 From a speech in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet that has become proverbial. The phrase’s meaning is literally that a bomb-maker is blown up (“hoist” off the ground) by his own bomb (a “petard” is a small explosive device), and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice.