works where I live.
D9 series: Newcastle
It was by chance that I found myself in Newcastle on new year’s eve 1989, ready to take up an arts residency; it was two days after the fatal earthquake that traumatised the city. Many of my friends were affected and were still shell-shocked when I arrived. The majority of the buildings damaged had been built between 1900 and 1950, although the Newcastle Workers’ Club, a section of which had collapsed, was built in the ’70s.8
What struck me initially was the strange quietness amongst the devastation. Perhaps the quietness was intensified because of the preceding violence. It was a strange time of dislocation and expectancy. What stayed with me was the juxtaposition of elements that although related, are not normally seen together, such as a bedroom seeming almost intact while the next house was a pile of rubble – I was struck by the apparent “selectiveness” of it all. One of my most enduring memories is the bottled-drinks aisle in a supermarket, waist deep in plastic bottles of soft drink. I still have the photograph, and the visual memory is still vivid but I have yet to devise my strategy for painting it, as it’s bizarreness and connotations require more than mere representation.
I was surprised, though, to see that most buildings afflicted appeared not to be too badly damaged – just a few cracks or missing a verandah. Most
What struck me initially was the strange quietness amongst the devastation. Perhaps the quietness
was intensified because of the preceding violence