Time for another long overdue post. I’ve made some interesting sculptures since my last posting. I took on a challenging commission to create two large racing grasshoppers in double quick time for the new Oran Park library near Camden in western Sydney. This used to be a rural area, but was known to me since I was a child for just one reason. It had a car racing track. All the big names raced there, and I used to rabidly read all about their exploits in my eagerly awaited, latest copy of ‘Racing Car News.’ I couldn’t get enough of that stuff when I was twelve years old.
The track is gone and the pastures are disappearing under houses, but there are still just enough paddocks of dry yellow grass about to give a feel for the history of the district. I wanted to pay tribute to both, that soon to be gone rural feel, and the rich racing history. Those dry grassy areas make me think of grasshoppers, flies, locusts and Hereford cattle. And Insects seem sort of mechanical, and built for a purpose. Form following function, like racing cars. Well the ones I like anyway.
The three things I remember about Oran Park Raceway from when I was a kid were Formula 5000s, Lolas mostly, beasty V8 Sports Sedans, and the Six Hour Motor Bike races. For that young kid the most famous sports sedan in the land was the Norm Beechy Monaro. Yellow with red stripes and the number 4. The Formula cars of the era had riveted aluminium sheet chassis, and I wanted to reflect that. Hence the riveted abdomens. I wanted them to look like they could work like machines. I cut up a yellow Hyundai and found a green I liked on a Daihatsu. When I found a Kawasaki engine for the green one, it had to be given the late Greg Handsford’s race number 2.
The wings are made from glass car windows and they are pretty big sculptures. Getting the ok from the structural engineer, transporting them the 1000 kilometres to site, and hanging them was all a bit stressful, but I had the right people helping with these things and it all went without a hitch. And on time.
November marks ten years since my first U.K. Exhibition with John Davies Gallery in the Cotswolds. We’ll be marking that decade with another show that opens this coming weekend November 3. Come and say hello. I think this is the the 7th exhibition with John. All of the works are listed on his website. www.johndaviesgallery.com Jodie and I always enjoy a visit to this beautiful part of the world, and I love the break from our summer. Summer here is great for swimming, but not so good for welding. Actually as I write this it is still the last remnants of spring, which is normally beautiful here. Spring also means the snakes finish hibernating and hit the road. I have had one rather sizeable visitor in my shed this year. It fell from the roof beam in the storage loft one day, and landed at my feet…..Scared the S*@T out of me! And it too, I think. You don’t see them much, but they leave their shedded skins as evidence. Really weird feeling stuff. This one was a biggie!
I have been experimenting with a couple of sculptures using a few things other than car parts alone. I’m enjoying using a few new techniques and working with some different textures. It’s a bit of fun really. With my usual car subjects, I seem to be drawn to the early experimental, almost comical but lethal sort of cars, and oddly with these new textures I seem drawn too the early, crazy, flying experiments. Without a plane.
We have a had a few changes this year. Michael Commerford Gallery has moved to new premises at 219 Glenmore Road, the Five Ways in Paddington in Sydney’s east. The move is only recent and I haven’t been there yet, but I do know that cluster of shops is a lovely little hub in that community. He has his painting studio upstairs and is thrilled to be working there. There is not a lot of space for lots of my pieces but I hope to rotate works through there so that there is always something new every couple of months.
One of my new experimental pieces is there. But it is not a flight attempt. I found a fantastic little vintage tin in a junk shop in western NSW. It was a tin that detonators came in…..back in the days when you bought your dynamite at the General Store. I made a piece called ” The Demolition Expert. ” It also uses a wooden ignition coil from a T model Ford. It reminds me of I someone that I have known, but I can’t work out who. This Piece was the first of these experiments.
I also have just left a few pieces with JEFA Gallery in Byron St. Bangalow. Just a stones through from the famous Byron Bay. Julian there has been very keen to show some of my work. This is the first time in a long time that I have had work available to see in the flesh, north of Sydney. If you are in that beautiful part of the world pay him a visit. It is a bit of a chore to go there to deliver sculptures, because you just can’t go there without going to see that magnificent view from the Cape…..and then you just have to go to the beach. And then you just have to have an ice cream, and pretty soon the whole day is wasted.
Question…..What have I made that looks like one of my sculptures, is made from old car parts, and in reality is one of my sculptures, but will never be seen in an Art gallery? Answer…My Hot Rod. Well it’s not my Hot Rod now. I never quite finished it. Not enough time and too many other automotive distractions to keep me interested in it. After considering the realities of that last sentence I decided that it had to go. I put lots of time into fabricating and repurposing lots of bits and pieces. That car had almost no bits bought from a Hot Rod Shop, except for some fibreglass panels. Another artist, Aden Jacobi, he draws Hot Rods and lives Hot Rods, is now the happy owner. It was not quite finished when I said good buy to it. Very close though. Aden has now finished it. His forte is not fabrication, his forte is patination, and he has fittingly continued with my direction of thinking outside the square, but hasn’t change the style from my original vision. The car looks great now and he bought it around for me to take it for a drive.
I was really happy with how it drove. Just like something from the 1950s. Nice and relaxed and sort of effortless, but definitely not like a new car. One of my two drivable sculptures. The other is the old ” Toad hall Special ” that I used to race. It is sleeping in one of my sheds.