Projects

Duck and Cover – Coffee Table Acrylic on 2 Ammunition Boxes 470h x 660w x 310d

DUCK AND COVER – COFFEE TABLE

Acrylic on two Ammunition Boxes 470h x 660w x 310d

Blurring the lines between art and furniture, this beautiful piece is rich with history. The coffee table is constructed from two ammunition boxes. Each box originally contained 2 x 4.5” shells. The 4.5” gun was used by the British Army as a replacement for the 60-pounder. It was a long range, medium gun utilised throughout the Second World War. These boxes have been stamped 1957 and 1959.

Cleaning-up-box

This coffee table is furnished with 75mm stainless steel legs and 6mm toughened glass, sitting on stainless steel lugs. The high quality finish is contrasted against the raw materials and 50 plus years of weathering.

The artwork, lovingly painted on the side of the boxes, depicts my ‘little guy’ crouching over a grenade embellished with a heart. This thought provoking image is complimented by what was once inside these boxes. I do not know the circumstances in which these shells were fired, but I am sure they went BANG!

Duck and Cover – Coffee Table Acrylic on 2 Ammunition Boxes 470h x 660w x 310d

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Preselector-Thought-Bubble-3D

Preselector – Thought Bubble

Acrylic on Telecom instrumentation case – 510 x 540 x 300mm

I came across this instrumentation case when an elderly neighbour was carrying it to his skip bin. I wanted it! After a brief chat with my neighbour, I learnt that he was a retired Telecom (now Telstra) technician. He picked up a load of old electrical equipment at an auction when Telecom moved into the digital age, and no longer had a use for it. After collecting dust in his shed for about 20 years, he was finally letting go of this little piece of Western Australian history.

For one week, this piece lived on my front porch ,next to my chair, in its dusty raw state. It made a wonderful coffee table. I knew just what to do. I spent hours cleaning it and many more painting it, and now, it really is something special.

Preselector - Thought Bubble  A fantastic coffee table made from an old Telecom instrumentation case

Preselector - Thought Bubble (coffee table) - 51 x 54 x 30cm - Acrylic on vintage Telecom instrumentation case

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Redundant

Redundant

Mixed media on board – 700 x 600mm

This artwork tells the story of the human cost of technologies relentless progress.

I once worked with a man whom technology left behind. His name has eluded me for years now, but his story has never left me. He was a highly skilled typesetter from the ‘old school’ of printing, who worked at the Sunday Times. He saw many changes through his career, adapting again and again over the years. However, the transition to computers was one leap too far. He would struggle away at his desk trying to get a couple of simple jobs out, while the rest of our team would get through the bulk of the work, carrying him each day. It was quite sad. Finally the day came when the company had to let him go. In true ‘big business’ style, he was marched off premises. We never saw or heard from him again.

His story personally touched me, but sadly, his story was all too common. I wanted to create a piece that made a statement about yesterdays’ technology and its worthless value, the continual progress and change in industry and the many lost craftsmen.

Ludlow-Comp

I wanted to understand my nameless friend, and so, I spent some time leaning the ins and outs of the old processes and machinery. I found a company that still ran a couple of Ludlow Typograph machines. They no longer use the machines for printing but for creating foiling and embossing blocks. I spent time talking with the operators and gained insight into the craft and skill of the old tradesmen. There were hours reflecting on how life must have been for my former work colleague. The smells, the sounds and the hot work environment.

The other focus of my project was the influence of computers on industry. This was a subject I was far more familiar with. After working in visual communication for the last 20 years, I have seen the rapid pace of change. Superseded computers are discarded like trash and in a constant cycle of upgrades.

Burning-Mac-Comp

My creative process began with the ‘sacrifice’ of a discarded Mac. I used an old G3 Mac, once the powerhouse of every design studio. The final task for this particular Mac was to burn, providing a hot flame with which to scorch my artwork. Using fire in my painting is not new for me. I use the process of burning my boards and canvases as a ritual of cleansing and saying goodbye to something. This time the process was more symbolic. I was destroying one of the instruments of my nameless subjects’ demise, whilst creating something new to tell his story.

progress-comp

The story of my nameless friend is told in the background of this artwork. I lost myself in his story. Imagining I was living in his shoes, I wrote (in a diary fashion) his day-to-day experiences across the years. From his induction into the printing industry, till the day he was deemed no longer useful. How did the changes and progress affect him? How did it make him feel as a person? How did it challenge him and what did it take from him?

The most prominent symbol used in this artwork is the ‘dead Mac’. Anyone who worked with Macs through the 90’s would know this icon well. If you saw this icon on the screen of your Mac, you were going to have a bad day. This was the icon that would be displayed on screen when a fatal error had occurred. It normally meant the end for your poor Mac, or some very costly work to bring it back to life. The ‘dead Mac’ to me, is a symbol of the expiration of something’s usefulness. This is the point at which something goes from being an asset, to being an object of zero value. Our attitude to the object instantly changes and we treat it accordingly. We would not think twice about throwing and smashing a computer that we know is broken and old. Unfortunately there are many people who have been treated with the same disrespect as there value to industry has expired.

The white texture (or vale) that sits over the story in the background is symbolic of the way that we forget, (or choose not to speak about) the stories of the people that have come before us. I am sure that many of you know someone just like my nameless friend. We should remember them and the contributions that they once made.

I hope that, through this artwork, I have done justice to the memory of my old work colleague. I just wish I could remember his name.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS

A PAINTING FOR BEN

Life is full of challenges. This painting contains images and elements from our past. The significance of the bull, and its depiction as a skull, are very important to the story of this painting. The bull is strong and fierce. It represents a fight, a challenge, a wild force. The skull represents death. Death is about saying goodbye to things from the past. Grabbing the bull by the horns is a commitment to take on the challenges of life. There is an understanding that life can be a rough ride. Controlling the bull is a metaphor for taking control of your life and where it will take you.

In the structure of this painting, there are images of cancer cells. The cancer is a part of your story that is behind you. You did not let it define you. Having said this, the way you took the challenge up to the cancer HAS defined you. The symbolism of cancer also lies in the sub-plot of our lives. Sometimes we find that dark influences invade our lives. They try’s to take hold of us. This darkness can grow in us and, if it is not challenged, it will become us. To fight this darkness, we must fill our lives with light. Light is the love and joy in our lives.

This painting has been set on fire 3 times during the creative process. Setting fire to the painting is about purging the darkness. Destroying something in order to build something new. The fire itself is light. A symbol of hope, warmth, security and purification.

The dark, chard canvas is like the foundations of our lives. We are a product of our pasts. We build the person we want to become in layers on top of the layers of who we were. We can acknowledge who we once were, without letting it influence the person we are to become.

This painting also includes an image of Papua New Guinea, and more specifically, the Kokoda Track. The Kokoda Track is a single-file foot trail over challenging terrain. Taking on the challenge of the Kokoda Track and conquering the challenge in the name of cancer research is something I found extremely inspiring. You took to this endeavour with the support of all of your friends and family. We all followed your story and your progress on the journey. Ironically though, this journey was one that you alone had to complete. The single-file track was a mirror to your fight with your health. Through your inner strength, discipline and determination, you mastered another of life’s challenges. This has become a part of your story. A solid foundation lying beneath the person you have become, and all that you will be in the future.

The most significant, the most important and yet the most inconspicuous element to the painting you will find between the eyes of the bull. Ben, this is what this painting is all about. Between the eyes of the bull are three blue dots, forming a triangle. The triangle is a symbol of balance and strength. The colour blue is calming and peaceful. With your hands firmly gripping the horns of the bull, stare him down. Focus between his eyes. Let this be a calming experience. The three dots are You, Janna and Jack; the most important people in your life. The three dots are also Love, Strength and Knowledge. Outside of these three dots, life happens around you. Life is amazing, fun, surprising and very enjoyable, but it can also be noise and distraction. Always remember to bring yourself back to your three dots. Ground yourself here.

Ben, this painting has a darkness to it, however, it is not a dark painting. This painting should be an inspiration. It will provide you with focus, clarity and an opportunity for self-reflection and meditation. I hope it will one day proudly hang on your wall.

 

Taking the Bull by the Horns - Acrylic on Canvas 615x1520mm This painting was set on fire 3 times during its creation.

 

Bull-process1

 

 
 
My Friend
The painting has arrived and is currently is up in my office.
I’ve got to say, I got quite emotional looking at it. I think it affected me more than I anticipated. The darkness and the blood reminds me of my tormented childhood and brings me to tears but the turquoise light surrounding the sun reminds me of the light ahead and of Jack and Jammy.
You know my story and you know I’ve been to hell but my light is the focus…
Well done buddy I love it
Ben
Bens_Painting_Hanging