This Swan’s on Me 1989
To finance my MA studies I drove a taxi cab in Sydney for three years soon after immigrating to Australia. These experiences in my newly adopted country were traumatising. Coming from a country torn apart by civil strife in the struggle for liberation from the Apartheid yoke, I could hardly believe what people did with their freedom, which was taken for granted. It appeared that they quite literally pissed it up against a wall. People everywhere in Sydney literally lurched after midnight. To date it was the most dangerous occupation I have had. Constantly threatened, ripped off and having to have vomit cleaned from the cab I decided to try and paint my way out of having to drive taxis. The series takes a dark humoured look at Sydney night life. There were occasions which were somewhat amusing, like the instance when a customer asked to be taken to the well known Tiffany’s brothel and along the way he explained to me that he had just had a windfall and upon our arrival, he suggested that I park the cab as he wanted to ‘shout me’ a fuck! On another occasion a couple scrambled into my cab and explained that they had just got married and asked me if I could please decide on a destination for their honeymoon!
The paintings in this series in the main dealt with aspects of libidinous behaviour brought on by intoxication, prostitutes, pimps, aspects of voyeurism and most disturbing was the subcutaneous violence which was never far from the surface. It is of interest to note that over my three year period of driving cabs three days a week, the most violent customers were invariably women! This experience was my major introduction to mainstream Australian culture.