Thursday, August 25, 2011

Collisions: Julie Clarke + Mark McDean 25.08. 2011

I don't have a gun. Julie Clarke 2011: Acrylic paint on wood 25 x 20 cm.

Mark has moved from Melbourne to Newcastle and so now we send our collisions to each other via snail mail. He has just received my latest response and so here is  my rationale.
I had an immediate reaction to the word 'tombe' in Mark's recent artwork ~ l'homme tombe/man falls and read it phonetically as 'tomb' ~ an underground vault in which the dead are buried ~ however, it also as a play on the word 'womb' since in my Absent Father a figure of a man was positioned in a uterine space; the pregnant belly demarcated by a half circle of pearls. This collides with Mark's use of a 'half circle of pearls' in one of his previous artworks in this series. I also read 'man falls' as men who have fallen, particularly those who died on the battlefield. I thought of Nietzsche's words about ugliness and beauty mentioned in an earlier note and wondered what I might do with the fake gun I found, since it is a potent symbol of masculinity. I thought about France and Flanders Field ~ the spilled blood of soldiers and of  John McRae's 1915 poem that described the myriad of red poppies blooming between the graves of those killed in battle. Nirvana's  song Come As You Are, which suggests acceptance came to mind and the lyrics I don't have a gun means there is nothing to fear. Sadly, Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) committed suicide with a gun and many other men, either intentionally or by accident kill themselves and others with firearms. We live in a culture that glorifies hyper-masculinity and violence, so, I attempted to dilute the symbol by painting the gun black and decorating its surface with flowers. I might have called the piece 'Poppy' for it is both a girl's name and the name that many people call their grandfather.


  1. Great Julie. There is a scene that this reminds me of at the beginning of Watchmen where a hippy girl places a flower into the barrel of a gun, which immediately discharges. I know In Flanders Fields, many of my male ancestors are buried in them. I think the image shows the greatest respect for their memory. Lest we forget.

  2. Moira Corby sent an email to me on Sunday morning and I quote:

    "There is something so attractive about this object. I think it is it's texture, the
    painted wood reminds me of a child's toy but also of the malleability & hand- made
    nature of it's material. It contrasts with the hardness of whatever guns are
    manufactured from. I love your unexpected reference to Poppy too.

    "never give up a passion" me

  3. Steve ~ interesting that you made that association - Mark said when he first saw the gun he thought of Patty Hurst & that famous photo of her holding a gun. Moira ~ it reminded me of a child's toy as well, but I was intrigued by the fake aspect of the wooden gun, apart from its potent symbolism.