Sunday, 11 February 2007

Stuff found under the house

Under this house there is a kind of spider-cave cellar into which we have spent the last seven years throwing the kinds of things that are useless and unwieldy but too difficult to get rid of. Intermittently I would worry about what kind of vast burden was accumulating down there in the dark dampness. But in the event it wasn't too bad. Most of it we just dragged out to the nature strip and the council took it away. Didn't hurt a bit.

The classic example of the kind of stuff that I knew was there and worried about but couldn't actually summon up the willpower to decide about its future (until moving precipitated it) was this pair of folders full of drawings I did between 1983 (beginning high school) and 1993 (leaving the drawing course at the VCA). Big bulky dirty messy wads of paper. Stuff that you know you should keep but for what?

So I had to drag it out into the light at last. As you can see it hadn't held up too well.

But it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it looked. There were two folders - one a big zip-up folio made of the woven polyester used in luggage, and one just a folded-in-half band poster I picked off a fence in the early 1990s (for a band called Swordfish, who I remember really liking but can't remember anything else about them, at all.) The stuff in the folio had gone mouldy, but everything in the paper folder was pretty much OK. There was plenty of salvagable stuff in there and by ripping things out of mounts I reduced it down to a slender A2-sized bundle which is all neatly taped up and ready to enter another decade long period of neglect.

Well, the memories. Looking at the high school stuff was the most enjoyable part of picking through it all. I was certainly a better drawer technically after a few years intensive tertiary training, but as the technique improved the confidence and imagination wore out. In that drawing course the use of colour was discouraged. It was all about learning classical realist techniques - academicism.

This, on the other hand, I remember doing in Year 7

this is from year 9

This is an illustration to the Hans Christian Andersen story about the flying trunk.

I don't know what this drawing of a lion was for, but I like it.

these two pictures I know I did in year 12. But I was sure there were four, one for each season. Or maybe I jsut never finished the other two.

This I also found under the house. I made him when I was about fifteen, I think perhaps not for school. This was the era of that strange drawing above of the man holding the cake and also the period when my infatuation with Pee Wee Herman influenced just about every aspect of my life. The good old days of yore.

what's under your house?


Zoe said...

Is there some reason you are not writing and illustrating books for children?

As for under the house, there are lotsa spiders and dirt and a big roll of tatty mangled chicken wire hiding behind a tiny door that says "Bobie's House Keep Out"

Anonymous said...

Your high school drawings are so evocative, I had to come out of lurkdom and just say, Wow. I hope you've kept them. Maybe you'll draw again?

We have nothing under the house, but I did have a big suitcase of shame. Which was audited almost a decade ago. Stuff was burnt with much whooping and hooping around the flames. The good stuff was moved to a smaller suitcase.

We're seeing The Handsome Family too, but in Melbourne. Did you see them last time they were here?

lucy tartan said...

Thnak you Zoe. Is there a reason? The VCA course really put me off drawing, and by the time that wore off I was into other things.

There's no going back. I discovered recently that Derwents are made with the pencil casings all the same colour now, with only a coloured blob on the end to mark them apart. I don't think it would be as much fun to draw with those as with the old variety.

Hello, Janet. I enjoy your blog(s) very much. We didn't see the Handsome Family last time only because I didn't know it was on. Did you see them? Their Melbourne show is on the day we move, no good for us. Plus the Hepburn one is a dinner & show thing. Dorian thinks they might not live up to my expectations, but I'm sure they'll be marvellous.

lucy tartan said...

Poking round on their website just now I saw that Rennie Sparks does pet portraits:

"I do portraits of pets that try to envision what heaven would look like for your particular animal friend."

she is my hero.

Ampersand Duck said...

Nice to see that the decorative element in your drawings has manifested itself in myriad other ways in your life, which is as it should be when art school fails to inspire.

My underhouse has only spiders and wayward passionfruit strays. I have both a garage and a shed full of such crap, though.

Ampersand Duck said...

PS the puppet is EXCELLENT. I love/d Peewee too.

JahTeh said...

Under my house is a two foot concrete slab, thank goodness and I have no garage to store junk in either. It should have been the usual 6" slab but a communication breakdown resulted in four courses of brick being laid for a wooden floor. The builder just backed a cement truck up and filled it in.
The last earthquake rumbled through.

Meredith Jones said...

Keep those pictures safe so you can give them to your grandkids one day.

And didn't Dorian have some sort of installation under the house? The Happy Birthday Room, with all those musical birthday cards?

lucy tartan said...

grandkids, well, when the dust settles I'll show baz the puppet & see what he reckons.
Yep, happy birthday room it was. When the door opened the light set off thirty or so little bleating electronic tunes. We had big plans beginning from that excellent point of departure to do up the two rooms as a kind of Buffalo Bill den but they never amounted to anything.

lucy tartan said...

Duck it is a terrible tragedy but Pee Wee's Big Adventure is not apparently obtainable on r4 dvd. A Great Wrong.

Anonymous said...

I did see The Handsome Family last time, at Ceres. Only because I was harrassed into going. It was an excellent show, but not quite what I expected from hearing their music beforehand. This time, I am hugely looking forward to it.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I'm quite impressed with the last picture in particular. You are teh talented.

There are 250 cassette tapes and a large boulder in my cellar, mouldering on their own respective time scales.

Chris Boyd said...

I saw the Handsome Family at the Basement a coupla years back when they were out for the Leonard Cohen concerts. Rennie and Brett are unimaginably better live than they are on CD. So do make the effort!

I didn't know they were comin', so thanks for the heads-up!!

Stegetronium said...

They are gorgeous. I love the picture of the ibis and the crocodile turning into a giraffe. In my garage I have a collection of high school era creative writing in a suitcase - when i read it I find the writing naive and obvious but the ideas fantastic. Hard to believe I had that much imagination. It's a shame VCA put you off art.

Suse said...

I bet that lion's eyes follow you around the room.

And your Pee Wee Herman recollections reminded me that I need to add another to my 'phrases from movies' post that I wrote recently. We regularly do the four claps, followed by the singing of 'Deep in the heart of Texas'.

Must dig out old Pee Wee videos.

lucy tartan said...

Suse, excellent! Do you also say "I know you are, but what am I?" I hope you do.

lucy tartan said...

Chris, we already bought tickets for the Handsome Family, so we're going come hell or high water.

lucy tartan said...

And "remember the Alamo"...quotable quotes galore!

"I don't make monkeys, I just train 'em!"

"It's like unravelling a biiig cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting, and knitting, and knitting, and knitting...."

"Everyone I know has a big but."

Ariel said...

Wow. I'm in awe of your drawing talent. I always had ideas for things I'd like to draw, but they never made it from my head to the page. I love these.

Happy moving (and subsequent destroying!)

Anonymous said...

Draw again!

Don't let the bastards get you down.

- barista

dell said...

hi, this is a lovely collection, i have similar piles but the worst of it is thousands of miles away, so i don't worry too much...