Pot Luck: The Life of the Automobile – 2022. On exhibition in the Here and Now show @ the Orange Regional Gallery
Oil on canvas. H94 x W122 cm
Painting Inspired by Ilya Ehrenburg’s salient 1929 book “The life of the Automobile”. This understated masterpiece of writing is as relevant today as when it was conceived almost 100 years ago.
Pot hole dodging on Australian roads during the protracted La Niña is a game akin to dicing with death. An informal public response to this proliferation of road deterioration is to demarcate potholes with a (police-like) murder scene outline in white paint on the black bitumen surface. Here, as a sop to video artist Shaun Gladwell, the symbolic fatality is a skateboarder depicted in receding perspective.
The central figure is surrounded by a car tyre surmounted with Buffalo horns. This is a reference to Bull Bars often attached to the front of rural vehicles by drivers – to literally fend-off the danger to themselves of fatal accidents when wild animals are hit whilst travelling.
Colliding with and killing wildlife on Australian rural roads is a commonplace occurrence. Observing or causing roadkill is part of the Australian country way of life. It is often joked about and even celebrated by ‘truckies’ (large truck drivers) who often adorn the outside of their driving doors with painted symbols of their score of kills – hence the patterned wallpaper of kangaroos, echidnas and wedge tailed eagles – (Eagles are generally only hit when they are feeding off prior killed animals themselves). Notching-up kills was common practice particularly during WWII, when pilots of both sides attached painted decals of their adversaries just below their cockpits denoting the number of enemy planes shot down – which tallied-up towards them being designated as aces and treated as heroes.
Truck drivers, particularly in remote areas, often boast about going out of their way to kill animals on our roads.
There is nothing to celebrate in deliberately murdering fauna.
ps. In Broken Hill NSW there is such a proliferation of roadkill (usually caused every night by large trucks) that the City Council employs someone to pick up and clear the roads daily. If left to rot, the bodies strewn across the roads are perceived to cause distress to tourists – who are bussed-in to experience the City of The Arts from all across the country. The carcasses of the roadkill are then unceremoniously dumped in the ‘meathole’ at the City Tip.