Outback Education

Many of those who have been on a Bobby Dazzler Outback trip will recall travelling along that big-dipper road across the sandhills between the Strzelecki Track and Cameron Corner in the north-east of South Australia. And one of the memorable sights along the way is an ancient double-decker bus, long since abandoned to the ravages of the desert and also those enigmatic travellers who apparently never leave home without a spray can.

Outback bus

This picture appeared earlier in this blog – see Picture Challenge #1, posted on April 8, 2012 – and it was revealed in the comments that the bus was once the temporary home to one Joshua Yeldham, a young artist, and also gave some information about his work.

The 40 finalists for the prestigious 2013 Archibald Prize for 2013 have just been announced.  The Archibald Prize for portrait painting has been awarded annually in Sydney for over 90 years, and has been won by some of Australia’s most prominent artists. This year, the very same Joshua Yeldham is one of the finalists, with a rather cryptic (to this writer) work entitled Self portrait: Morning Bay – see http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/gallery-e6frg8n6-1226597299470?page=32 .

When the exhibition of Archibald finalists opens at the Art Gallery of NSW in a week’s time (March 23), one assumes that there’ll be two classes of people making up the viewing throng: on the one hand, those mumbling “And who is this Joshua Yeldham, pray tell?”, and on the other hand the Bobby Dazzler alumni nodding their heads sagely, with murmurs of “Yes, we thought he had potential – ever since those double-decker bus days.”

Anyway, never let it be said that Bobby Dazzler Outback trips are light on when it comes to culture. We’ll keep you ahead of the curve.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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9 Responses to Outback Education

  1. Sherry Cook says:

    Love your commentary Rob – and will look for the said artwork when we go to the AGNSW to see the Archibald. Sherry and Bill

  2. Anne says:

    Joshua’s entry looks like a complex zentangle! I think it is lovely. Hope it does well.

  3. Ros B says:

    I enjoyed looking at all the Archibald finalists’ works through this link, thanks Rob. Initially i did not take to Joshua’s Self portrait but I was fascinated as to why he wanted to portray himself as an owl with all the patterns therein. After googling him, the Cat Street Gallery website informs us that the owl is a recurring image in his work – one that could ‘haunt him’. Read more on http://www.thecatstreetgallery.com/artist/JoshuaYeldham/biography/

    • dazzlerplus says:

      I find it interesting to consider what constitutes a “portrait”. Back in 1943, William Dobell’s winning painting of Joshua Smith was challenged because of claims it was a caricature rather than a portrait. In 1997, a painting of the Bananas in Pyjamas television characters was declared ineligible because it was not a painting of “a person”. Maybe we live in more liberal times. You’d have to concede that the subject of Yeldham’s work is not immediately recognisable as a specific person. Could I enter a picture of an emu, and plausibly claim that it was a self portrait? Am I missing something? What say you, Ros B, Anne, Sherry, Bill?

  4. dazzlerplus says:

    In the process of having another look at Yeldham’s 2002 book, Solitude’s Bride, (ISBN 0-9581277-0-0), I came across this comment from him:

    The desert is a stage for absurdity.
    There is no place better to
    experiment and practice.
    Scuff through the sand, mimic
    the elongated movements of an emu
    and no one laughs.
    There is no sound.
    You are the actor and the audience
    and must laugh at
    your own performance.

  5. Ros B says:

    Yeldhams’s description of the desert as ‘a stage for absurdity’ seems apt given the many paradoxes that exist in the desert e.g. the desolation yet teeming with life. He must have got to know himself pretty well out there.
    On a different matter, thanks Anne and Rob for the zentangle reference. I enjoyed having a go last night!

  6. dazzlerplus says:

    As you’re probably well aware by now, Joshua Yeldham did not win the Archibald Prize.

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