Friday, July 13, 2012

The Artist In Lotus Land.

 I've been listening to hardstyle-techno late, late at night, having finished one more artwork and started another. I'm crashing with chronic fatigue but still downhill cycling on the art production line, gotta keep it going. Northcott Place is quiet, the pensioners and addicts are all snoozing, even Cursula from next door has crept  back to her boyfriend's flat without much of a racket. He'd thrown her out earlier and she'd come home sniveling, he's got her begging on the streets, she's now one of those wretches who sit downcast on street corners with a cardboard sign appealing for money for drugs, oh the shame of it. She whined to me she'd sunk lower in her poor opinion of herself, a state she enjoys I suspect. And she forgives him, he's someone to hold onto and her human needs are great. She's at my door 24/7 and I've had a flash: I like the community action, I feel compassion, I'd hate it if the neighbors never spoke to me.

Though tonight I thank nogod she's left me alone, in deep silence, to paint and draw and scheme. My show's coming up in September, "Toby Zoates Regurgitated", I'm preparing 35 works from 35 years of performing and exhibiting on the streets, squats, cafes, clubs, galleries and theatres of Sydney. "Post Modern, Post Punk, Post Apocalyptic." I've painted some new canvases and put fleuros and mettalics on some old black and white posters, and with animation movie stills it all makes for a good range of the trail of pop culture trash I've left behind, kind of like "Exit Thru the Giftshop" only for a gutter fag like me I've always been told "Exit Thru the Toilets, and I've been at it a long time, since 1977 in fact, murals, flyers, posters, films, story-telling performances, always slashing Z for Zoates the zorro on every wall of this city. (And the collection looks fucking great too!)

I'm trying not to shit myself, I get stage fright so bad, and my work is quite outrageous, subvertising and iconoclastic, with psychedelic visions of the Underworld. Lucky here in Convicts/Overseers/ Masters Land no one will take any notice of a bum named Toby Zoates and I can continue to slash Z fairly anonymously. I did go mad quite young I now realize, and it only got exacerbated as I further interacted with the world, the hippie 'sixties, the punk '70s, the grunge '80s, the rave '90s, tripped out, raped, danced ecstatic, bashed and robbed, homeless and in sanctuary, loved and spoiled, dreaming of being an artist with no grand family, wealth, good school or contacts behind me, just brash nerve, and the doing of it, hundreds of times. That's what madness will do for you.

Northcott is a good place to hide-out as a madman, the place is littered with them. Lots of howling, yelling, cursing, the gay guys down the other end were the worst, Drony and Dravid called the cops on each other again, they'd pulled knives, and they were sternly told to have a holiday, one of them should get out of town, Drony the drip was the one to go. There's been a strange young woman in the flat with Dravid while the cats been away, maybe he's not so gay after all, he's even got kids tucked away somewhere, it's like a twisted soap opera., maybe me the mad artist is just one more of the "Munsters" cast. Poor old Dolly in the flat between me and the gay drongos is slowly dying with leukemia, she's 90 and sorely aware of her mortality, in hospital every three weeks, she's been the neighbor from heaven for me all these years, the Earth Mother of Northcott, I saw her struggling through the wind today with walking stick and dragging her shopping trolley, refusing help, she's bigger than life. I'll try to get her in a cab to my show, it's only a block away from here.

In the middle of my gallery season I'm going to do a live monologue performance, "My Sob Story", the gist of which is ever the through-line of this Blog, the travails of a gay pauper artist across the centuries i.e. 20th and 21st. I'll even have a violin playing behind me to an original composition by my mate Peter Urquhart so I can really ham up the "poor little waif" street artist style.

Half the time it's quiet and halcyon here in the gardens of Northcott and I'm at peace while my turbulent neuronal firings flow into incandescent structures, rainbow colored vision questing art. My work expresses passion, delight and fury at an absurd existential civilization in a wondrous natural Universe. The world might come crashing down, this is supposed to be the year for it, economies are in meltdown certainly and I'm as tense as everybody else. I'd like to hit the road and disappear, this show's kind of the end of one journey, then I'm heading for the horizon and getting lost in Lotusland.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.