Karla Dickens: Lucky Bastards and Fast Food

11th April - 12th May

Andrew Baker Art Dealer

The phrase “lucky country” is the base-point from which these works grew. I was grateful and relieved to find that Donald Horne, the man who first coined this famous phrase in 1964, was ironically condemning Australia for its complacency and failure to acknowledge its history.

The work comprises three parts:

  • The first part, entitled Unlucky bastard, consists of a black straight-jacket adorned with embroidered patches and inscribed text. Each of the three embroidered patches contains an upward-facing white horse-shoe imprinted with the word “lucky” and a downward-facing red, black and yellow horse-shoe imprinted with the word “bastard”. My playful and straight-forward observation is that you are lucky in Australia if you are white and a bastard if you are Aboriginal. I have hand-painted a number of quotes from Horne’s book The Lucky Country onto the strait-jacket. They are there to remind those who still literally believe in the phrase—of the author’s original intention.
  • The second part, collages using rusty oil- and petrol-cans I found abandoned in the bush, are adorned in white lettering with the title “Unlucky”. While digging through the old dump near a closed mission-camp, I played the role of anthropologist; studying re-purposed oil-cans like treasured artefacts. Hard-rust tells many stories. As I interpreted the artefacts, they spoke to me of fortunes made from this country—on the backs of its traditional owners. Buckets of money made by mining and pastoral businesses with government blessings; but at the cost of great suffering and hardship by those who will never, ever get a lucky break.
  • The third part consists of three collages: one using an old Australian tea towel that reads “Have a go Australia” and the other two using heart-shaped pieces that once formed a cushion reading “I Love Australia”. These works express my thoughts about white supremacists hijacking the Southern Cross for their own purposes and by asking the viewer “Who’s lucky?” in Australia.

Click here to view the exhibition catalogue 

Image: TO SEE OR NOT SEE #2 2017. Inkjet print, Edition 3, 100 × 100 cm

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