2005 Heads & Tales

By painting landscapes, roosters and tractors that are based on both life and memory I connect myself as an artist to the land that my family has worked for four generations and draw parallels between the creative act of landscape painting and the transformation of land by agriculture, both parties working with and struggling against the land based on past experience, present needs and future desire.

During 2003-2004 I travelled to Thailand as an Australian Volunteer, taking up residency in a small village close to the Thai/Lao and Cambodian border. My placement with AVI involved, among other things, learning the native language, working with local artists and coming to understand local culture and lifestyle. This gave me invaluable insights into the social hierarchies of village life, which were repeatedly dominated (for men) by the ritualised practice of cockfighting (hence the paintings of roosters).

In 2005 I exhibited my first series of rooster heads with three large portraits of my wife. This show was entitled ‘Heads and Tales’ and explored portraiture outside its conventional grounds. The titles often hold the answer to the rooster’s origin and characteristics. In 2009 I revisited the subject of my roosters and a new fresh body of portrait/rooster heads emerged. ‘Wild Bushman Joseph’ is a beloved rooster that rales the troops together, loved by all, but feared by many.