Saturday, May 03, 2008


All I can say, in my defence, is that it was not my idea.

"Why don't you get Wilson Iron Bar Tuckey to open your show," Queen Street Gallery owner John Marinovich suggested. "He's from Carnarvon." So, much to John's surprise, and ultimate mortification, i did.

The political reporter here at The Newspaper was gobsmacked when i told her the Hon Wilson Tuckey was going to open my photographic exhibition. "But you'll never shut him up," she said.

Alas, her prediction proved all too true.

Guests fidget amongst themselves, hungrily eyeing the nori rolls and lashings of alcoholic beverages, as over the course of a half an hour The Hon Wilson lurches from one misbegotten Carnarvon story to the next. Without rhyme, reason, or indeed, segue. It is the kind of classic opening speech that can only be delivered by a Federal politician with no inkling that he is being had.

Safari Bob snickers into his bottle of Gage Roads beer. Safari Bob is a man who not only appreciates irony, but also has a sense of occasion. He is immaculately dressed in a pale beige safari suit, a Hawaiian shirt and those long, white, pointed shoes with which one can sometimes knock out an eye.
The Hon Wilson begins by describing his interest in photography, in a doomed attempt to assauge the doubts of anyone present who may harbour a suspicion that Wilson Iron Bar Tuckey is not all that interested in photography. The Hon Wilson is attempting to make it clear that he is Serious about Art.

"Every year I put out my own calendar, featuring photographs, which I distribute to my electorate free of charge," the Hon Wilson says. "Some of the photographs in my calendar are even in black and white." Gasp. He gestures at the walls of the gallery. Our butcher in Innaloo also used to distribute a calendar complete with photographs, if i remember rightly.

Carnarvon. It has a long history. A lot of history. Too much history, one could argue.

"... and then, a year later in the 1961 flood, the water came within ten feet of the doors of the pub." It is twenty five minutes later. After touching lightly on the Carnarvon tracking station, agriculture, and his purchase of the Port Hotel, the Hon Wilson is barely onto the second of the Carnarvon floods. "I remember the news headlines that appeared in the local newspaper after I sent a dinghy out to pick up fresh supplies of beer ..."

I glance over at the table, with its rows and rows of beer bottles standing so distant and unattainable. I have my glass of red, but a couple of hungry girls standing with their backs to the wall, sans beverages, are glaring at me as if to say "do something!"

Das Clayton leans over and whispers in my ear. "You'd better do something," he says. I nod. Meanwhile the Hon Wilson is continuing unabated.

"... and then one year old Mr Marinovich over here decided to start up a soccer competition, and i supported him in that," The Hon Wilson goes on. "I didn't realise the competition would be between the Serbs and the Croats. A very fierce competition it was too. I remember when a league team came up from Perth, and they were soundly beaten on the soccer pitch out there on the plantations ..."

"Do something," says Das again. "He is not going to stop." Safari Bob is still chuckling away with a shit-eating grin over a bottle of beer. Doesn't anybody except Safari Bob realise what a monument to self-reflexive irony this occasion represents? Here we have a Federal politician talking to photographs of Melinda Mayhem, Mickey T, Safari Bob and the various wildnesses of my year in the north west. A politician who has now himself become caught up as a character in the ongoing saga that is The Nerve.

People. Sometimes all they seem to care about is food, drink, and unspeakable acts.

I take my glass of wine and walk to the front of the gallery crowd, standing between The Hon Wilson and John the Gallery Owner. "Thank you Mr Tuckey," i say in a respectful tone. I mean, one can't invite a guest to speak at one's exhibition opening and then just ruthlessly take the piss out of them. "I want to thank you all for coming to this exhibition opening, and also thank John for putting the works on the wall. The town of Carnarvon has a million and one stories, as Mr Tuckey here has just demonstrated." I gesture in his general direction. Perhaps one can take the piss if one is subtle about it ? "And i hope i have managed to capture a slice of the life and character of the town in this set of photographs. Please enjoy the wine and the food. Thank you."

Needless to say, my exhibition was boycotted by the entire Arts Establishment. Which i don't mind at all. I know i don't take myself anywhere near seriously enough to be accepted by the Arts Establishment. You know, the best advice i ever received about Art was from a lecturer in sculpture. "Take your work seriously, but never take yourself seriously," he said.

But my work in this direction is not yet done. I feel sure i can extend myself even further in the direction of pointless flippancy.

Photos: Seng Mah


Living Juice said...

Direction of pointless flipency..

A friend and I are thinking about hitting the road in October on a aimless venture into the unknown. Idea is to pick anyone up who wants a lift and drive North, East, South and west...

Can't help but see the opportunity to try recreate the Alby Mongels safari.. But with guns

Your'll always be welcome should it be an option for you at the time!

Anyway, I can't tell from what you have written if the exhibition was a flop or not. What would you use to measure success anyway?


Mark Roy said...

Hey Dewse, that sounds like a plan! I'll pencil "Alby Mangels gun safari" into my diary.

I don't know if my exhibition was a success or not - how to measure these things, indeed?

... i sold 5 works so i guess it wasn't a flop.

Seng said...

Mark Roy, I am so impressed by the fact you remembered every detail of Iron Bar Tuckey's speech. I think I zoned out after the first 5 minutes and decided it would be more fun taking photos of the man himself. :-)