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Creation  of  Alternative  Visual  Puns


Arthur Wicks would like to build a giant sculpture with full-sized warplanes gathering like moths in the elbow of a huge timber branch which towered above the Russel offices.

Wouldn't it be wonderful", he said.  "Just imagine the fright people would get when they turned the corner and this great thing towered above them.  Oh, I love it."

He throws back his head , wheezing and chuckling, arms flailing about the Ben Grady Gallery in the Kingston Art Space.  He can see it, this wild vision of an anti-war statement dwarfing the offices of the people in the war business.

He would do it too, given half a chance and the appropriate funding.  And Canberra would be the richer for it.

Not that it is likely to happen; not soon anyway.  Thew world is only slowly getting used to the Arthur Wicks vision.

But they loved him in Holland and Germany in 1990 when he pedalled an outlandish timber frame of a "peace  machine" through those countries.  They love him in Melbourne where he "rowed" a coracle down the tramlines of Bourke St; they love him in Wagga Wagga where as senior lecturer in art at the Charles Sturt University he enthralls and encourages a lively band of students.

Ben Grady loves him, though he's  not sure whether Arthur's current exhibition will pay for itself.  "It doesn't matter" Grady said.  "Arthur is something special."

"These are really studies," Arthur Wicks said as he took me around the room prior to the opening.  "I'd like to make them much bigger; very much  bigger."

The mixed media art objects are, mainly, oils on two canvases joined to create a 90 degree angle.  Then, usually on the horizontal plane, he has created a sculpture from drift wood or other material to produce a series of visual puns, often with an anarchic theme.

Sometimes, as with Lighthouse Beacon Signalling, he makes a statement about space, the boundaries between entities and the intrusion of one into the other's "area of influence."

In others such as the Solstice Observatory, he overlays images and objects with triple puns, in a bitter-sweet commentary on the human condition.

"Despite the energy we've put into our progress of the past several hundred years we've created an immense amount of havoc.  I  enjoy making machines that remind us if this havoc.  I like making objects that remind us of rituals that we've lost; that are anarchic."

"In fact I love it."


Robert Macklin.    Arts Editor
extract  The Canberra Times, Wednesday, August 21, 1991.  p 33





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