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Drive Life : July 2nd 2010
1HERSA1 0008 FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY Book at ticketmaster.com.au/worldchefshowcase For the full program and list of chefs visit siff.com.au world chef showcase Presented by ETIHAD AIRWAYS TICKETS ON SALE NOW The World Chef Showcase is about the big names both local and international, serving up all the exotic food trends. It's part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, presented by Citibank in October. 8 Drive Life July 2, 2010 drive.com.au COVER STORY STEPHEN LACEY A generation of Australian artists has found inspiration in what they drive. Iconic . . . (far left) Ben Quilty's Torana; (top, above left) Stewart MacFarlane's Bordertown and Petrol Station Closing; Stephen Coburn's Freeway. Cars on canvas Holden Utes, Toyota HiAce vans and classic Chevrolets seem unlikely discussion topics for art lovers. Typically, the only time you'd see the words canvas and car juxtaposed is in a brochure for a soft-top convertible. But just as they have added colour to the fabric of Hollywood films and Top 40 songs, cars have been a frequent muse for a number of artists. At the 17th Biennale of Sydney one of the most spectacular, must-see exhibits is a piece by China's Cai Guo- Qiang entitled Inopportune: Stage One. The installation -- in the vast Turbine Hall at Cockatoo Island -- features nine white Chevrolets, frozen in an explosive rollover sequence and pierced with golden rods of light. Since cars first appeared on our roads at the turn of the 20th century, artists have been using them for inspiration for painting, sculpture and photography. Australian artists are no exception. Australia ranks fourth in the world for car ownership per capita, so it's hardly surprising that something as ubiquitous as the automobile should figure so largely in our nation's art. ''Cars are an integral part of the landscape around us,'' artist Ben Quilty says. ''Almost all of us rely on a car to get around. ''They're part of our identity. As an artist, that's impossible to ignore.'' Quilty's first exhibition, in Paddington in 2003, featured oil paintings of his beloved LJ Torana, a car he still owns and admires. ''It spends most of the time in the corner of my studio these days,'' he says. Nowadays those paintings change hands for more than $50,000; that's about 20 times more than a rugged version of the real thing is worth. Many of Quilty's cars and the cars of his mates have ended up on canvas. One exhibition included a painting of his white Toyota HiAce, along with an assortment of cars parked along the Annandale street where he once lived. Quilty's latest exhibition in Brisbane maintains the automotive overtones, with ink and watercolour paintings of his current set of wheels, a black Subaru WRX. There are also ink-on-paper works depicting his ''project'' car up on blocks -- a 1976 XB Falcon. ''The XB is being totally rebuilt,'' he says. ''I purchased it from a little old lady out at Hill End [Brisbane]. It's in original condition.'' He says he has a love-hate relationship with cars but was drawn to the Falcon's masculine, overtly aggressive character. ''The XB is actually really ugly; it's beautiful because it's so ugly, so grossly out of proportion. I find it fascinating that it's designed to be an aggressive-looking object.'' Stewart MacFarlane is another artist who is fascinated by the four- wheeled form. ''As a boy, I fell in love with those big American cars of the '50s and '60s,'' MacFarlane says. ''Everything was futuristic and streamlined. I'd cut out pictures from magazines and make car scrapbooks.'' But MacFarlane is drawn as much to the story behind a car as to its physical appearance. Most of the cars he depicts have a colourful history and the images are often strangely unsettling, like a half- remembered dream. There's a red Mitsubishi used as a getaway car from a service station robbery; cars crushed and fading in a wrecking yard. The Green Car, 1984 is a disturbing film-noir vision of an old Holden used in a hostage situation. Another canvas depicts a hulking green wreck of a HX Kingswood, inviting us to ponder how it ended up so unloved. Charles Pickett, editor of Cars and Culture (HarperCollins Publishing) describes MacFarlane's works as ''the look of cars in cinema and pulp thrillers''. The artist himself sees vehicles as an inescapable fixture in the urban environment. ''I'm totally dependant on a car,'' he says. ''Even if I'm painting a landscape, I have to drive there in a car.'' MacFarlane may drive a 20-year- old Subaru but his dream car is a '66 Ford Mustang. Cars also feature in the works of Aboriginal artists. The Toyota LandCruiser in particular has become synonymous with the Australian outback, while beaten-up utes have also caught the artistic eye.
June 25th 2010
July 9th 2010