Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Australia's culture snobs strike again

Today a state funeral is being held in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia, for the artist Pro Hart, MBE. Very few people are ever honoured with state funerals.

Pro illustrated a lot of the works (examples) of another creative person, the first Australian writer to be accorded a state funeral, Henry Lawson (1867 - 1922), and I confess that as much as I love Lawson I don't like those paintings much.

I personally like only a small proportion of Pro Hart's work -- those works which I do like I admire very much -- and I didn't like his right-wing fundamentalist Christian politics. However, Po Hart was probably the most popular Australian painter of his or any time, and outstandingly prolific. Three Pro Hart paintings were bought by Prince Philip and one was added to the White House collection.

The fact that the National Gallery of Australia has not one of his works on display is a sad but typical reflection on this nation's haughty cultural elites. The restaurantocracy, I call them. You see, Pro Hart was a former coal miner, self-taught, hugely successful and he became fantastically wealthy -- far richer even than the restaurantocrats. The very fact that there is something by Pro Hart in almost every Australian home -- on the walls or in a book -- was enough for the Gallery to blackball him.

Take a tip from me. To get hung in the National Gallery, piss into a Pepsi bottle, screw the cap on and glue the whole thing to a piece of cardboard. Give it a name twenty words long, or something small and obtuse, like just an asterisk or "Galaxy Xcreta". Something like that. Not only will the National Gallery buy it from you for fifty grand, you'll get a two-year fellowship at an art school and be invited to enough wine and cheese nights to become lactose intolerant and pitifully close to Belmore Park winohood.

Then you can stay at the Matthew Talbot Men's Home, piss into as many bottles as you like or have to, get sober after six weeks of middle class dereliction, write your memoirs without punctuation and have your book snapped up by an Australian restaurantocrat publisher. Then do the talk show circuit (right up till the point that the restaurantocrats decide you have stepped over the Pro Hart line of commercialism, so stop a week before you get to that line). You can do this and become very well off all before the age of 27.

Speaking of human bodily fluids, interestingly, Pro Hart was one of the first artists, perhaps even the first, I don't know, to protect his copyright (because there are many forgeries) by putting his own DNA on his paintings.

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