Sunday, August 5, 2018

Plastic Ocean

Time for another quick dip into the archives. An old piece came to mind this week when the Australian supermarket chain Coles found itself stumbling over the most straightforward of anti-pollution measures. After plenty of advance warning - and revising the commencement date a couple of times - Coles introduced a long-overdue ban on the free plastic-bagging of groceries at its checkouts. Then they were spooked by a blast of off-the-scale-bonkers Murdoch-press opposition and ensuing infantile social media feedback of the "Bringing My Own Bag Is Too Complicated My Head Hurts Don't You Tell Me What To Do You're Not My Mum Bloody Greenies It's My RIGHT To Choke Turtles" variety. (The whipped-up anger was bizarre - people shouted on the radio, staff were abused in stores, journalists received death threats.) In a panic, Coles reversed the ban. They then endured 24 hours of much more widespread public criticism for caving, and after concentrating a little bit harder, drew the conclusion that while this (actually very simple) act was "a big and difficult" change, by golly, this was a mountain they could still climb! So the Bag Ban was back. Next Big And Difficult issue will be convincing the two supermarket majors plus Aldi to dump the even-thicker plastic bags that can be purchased at checkouts as a substitute for the freebies. Is it really so hard to get with the cloth and paper?
When I lived in Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority got me to do a set of pictures for a children's educational display about pollution and ocean health. It outlined the consequences of mass-produced convenience and single-use plastics, gave stats on animal injury and death, looked at plastic's entry into the food chain, and urged a more thoughtful approach to consumption - basic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle stuff. At the time it really did seem like we were going to turn a corner - the problem was well known, and there was much talk of making amends. I remember being quite hopeful that the industrial-scale geyser of "disposable" plastic garbage was about to begin scaling down. The concepts were clear - the kids at GBRMPA's Reef Wonderland grasped them easily.
It's been 25 years since I did the reef picture job. On land, in the air, in rivers, and at sea, plastic pollution is now a gigantic, poisonous disaster. Massive action needs to be taken to tackle it, both here and internationally... yet here we are, still pretending that a small, easy step - BYO Bag - is "big and difficult". "Quite hopeful" is no longer how I would describe myself.
Here's one of the pictures from the kid's display all those years ago - a reminder of how little distance we've come.

Plastic ocean - airbrush and paintbrush, acrylic on foamcore.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sketch Of The Day: The Unlucky Egyptologist

Just a quickie sketch to keep me from getting too rusty. And yes, that would be prolific English actor Bernard Archard. He was a staple of UK film and TV over five decades, appearing in a huge variety of fare, including Danger Man, The Avengers, Z Cars, Horror of Frankenstein, Paul Temple, Sky, Dad's Army, Upstairs Downstairs, Day of the Jackal, Rumpole, The Professionals, Krull, Bergerac, and memorably, 1975's classic Doctor Who serial, The Pyramids of Mars. This is Archard in character as Marcus Scarman - making a very unfortunate discovery in an ancient Egyptian tomb...

Marcus Scarman, having a really bad day at work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beer Is The Path To The Dark Side.

Is it really 5 years since I last blogged? Time certainly gets away. Last week makes 41 years since the first Star Wars film was released, and it definitely doesn't seem that long to me. When it was new I think we saw it at the cinema 9 times. In those days cinemas would buy a print of their biggest earners and run them for literally years on end. Crocodile Dundee screened for so long at our local independent, they had a gigantic painting of Hogan and Kozlowski applied to the side of their building. Rings a bell its season ran for 3 years. When Star Wars came out I was only 3 years old, so seeing it regularly with my sisters possibly counted as big-screen child-minding as much as it attested fandom. Now, of course, Star Wars is a Disney juggernaut, pumping out new films just about every year for better or worse. (For mine, most assuredly worse in the case of a fully CG, horrifyingly Uncanny Valley Peter Cushing - and I'd hoped Blood Beast Terror would be the greatest indignity to befall him.) But the nostalgia lives on - and I still have considerable affection for those first couple of films. (It started to fade a little when the Ewoks showed up.) For the last few years I've been making beer labels for an old friend who runs a bar called The Catfish, in Fitzroy. Special short-runs of beer have been produced to mark each of the fine establishment's birthdays, with illustrations for every brew helping to mark the occasion. The bewhiskered fish itself always makes an appearance in the artworks, thrown into whichever situation the particular style of beer demands. For the most recent anniversary, The Catfish worked with Cavalier Brewing to produce an Imperial Pilsner. And what self-respecting publican Star Wars fan could resist having a beer with a name like that do anything but go to The Dark Side? So it came to pass that a Catfish Emperor ruled over an effervescent amber galaxy - not so long ago, in a bar not far away.
Give in. Let it flow through you. USE THE SAUCE, LUKE!
This was a really fun picture to make.

The Cavalier Catfish Imperial Pilsner strikes back.