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Notes from the River Caves 

Big Saturday   Ginger Meggs

I’m very interested in coincidence, and coincidence obviously happens all the time, so when a coincidence happens, it often belongs to a different, completely different world to the ordinary world we live in, it doesn’t apply in that rationale at all. - Martin Sharp, interviewed by Albie Thoms, circa 1980

In the halcyon days of the hippy, anti-establishment era of the 1960s, two Sydney artists epitomised the spirit of their times producing images of satirical humour and pop imagery that coalesced art, theatre, film, music and writing in a way that was unique in the history of twentieth-century Australian art. They maintained this spirit even against the flow of contemporary painting towards the deadly seriousness of minimalism.

The inventive genius of Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp from this period reached the peak of expression during the 1970s in the Yellow House, a collective enterprise in King’s Cross established by Sharp. It was the first such collective in Sydney since Merioola in the 1940s, and before that Curlew Camp at Mosman in the 1890s; except the Yellow House was far more deliberate with its cross-fertilisation.

The careers of Kingston and Sharp have continued unabated to the present, with a common singular passion for Luna Park; its history, imagery, and survival as a symbol of Sydney’s joie de vivre.

This focus comprises some 20 works from the collection augmented by a few key loans, including Kingston’s iconic England –v– Australia chess set comprising images of his favourite popular characters from Norman Gunston and Dame Joan Sutherland to Prince Charles and the Royal Family; and Sharp’s spectacular recreation from a long-lost Japanese print thought to be by Hokusai.

There is a particularly outstanding collaborative piece: a large display case loaded with Luna Park memorabilia, witty new constructions, and other objects all set against a wallpaper pattern based on the comic strip character Boofhead.

Wednesday 15 November 2006, 5.30pm - Art After Hours program
Natalie Wilson, assistant curator Australian Art, will give a free exhibition talk.

Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp
On view:20 September to 19 November 2006
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744
Hours:10am until 5pm, 7 days a week
Art After Hours - every Wednesday until 9pm
Media Information and Interviews:Claire Martin
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Tel. (02) 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588

IMAGE CREDIT: Left to right: Peter Kingston, Big Saturday, 1995, oil on canvas, 183 x 157cm; Martin Sharp, Ginger Meggs sings 'Mammy' at the school concert, 1979, colour screenprint, 78.5 x 78.5cm. Both images from the Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection