We no longer go out to paint,
unless the object to be represented is such that it cannot be transported.
– Lang Shi Ning (Giuseppe Castiglione, Qing Dynasty court painter)
The fly-screen door has only just banged shut
& already the hills have scraped themselves bare
of spotted gums & blackbutts. What’s left?
Mainly pasture, gleaming green with summer rain;
some granite extrusions & fencing.
It’s an alternative version of Australia,
glimpsed through the lacquered lattice work
of this ‘Pavilion for viewing hobby farms’.
From the pavilion, designed in a tin-shed vernacular,
our sight lines stitch the view together
though livestock, crammed into a semi-trailer
blurring up the highway, might disagree
with their knife-edged human narrative.
Shadows cast by the corrugated awning
lengthen, shorten, then lengthen again.
Sunday fairs come & go: fruit preserves
& 70s bric-à-brac change hands;
the salt-crusted Alvey fishing reel, unwanted
on its trestle table, is a container of dawns
spent casting out from waves’ edge.
If idylls have a conclusion, I am yet
to find a happy one. In the distance
a walking trail bifurcates the mountain side
into twin histories, both deformed like a prediction
that unpicks itself one brick at a time.
We count the threaded ways in which
to immortalise the scene:
that chestnut mare, will it be recalled
in heroic oils & low-slung light or perhaps
the framework of a Chinese technique –
the grass as negative space upon which float
the black-ink strokes of eucalypts?
Whoever owns the postcard I sent you
from a country that one day will cease to exist
seems irrelevant. With the flick of a scholar’s sleeve,
the squeeze of a trigger, we picture
the dragon-spined rock shelf from which
I slip underwater into turquoise light, towards
sea urchins; the dreams of abalone & bream.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones