We made a return trip to the Outpost Project at Cockatoo Island yesterday, taking the grandsons to search for the elusive Banksy. They may not know much about art, but they know what they like and what they like is a ferry trip on Sydney Harbour.
It was eleven o’clock on Remembrance Day, November 11th. The flags on the Sydney Harbour Bridge were at half mast. The ferry came to a stop, and the captain came on the PA system to remind us of the reason.
Most of the passengers stood, baseball caps and sunhats doffed. I had a minute for a whispered explanation into the ear of a five year old of why we were thinking of all the soldiers who had been killed in wars, a hundred years ago and yesterday. ‘Are they in heaven now?’ A minute wasn’t long enough.
I thought of my grandfather Arthur Dean, wounded at Pozieres in July 1916, evacuated, patched up, sent back to the front, gassed, evacuated again… He came home, having seen horrors I hope never to see myself, and his survival is the reason I’m here to think about it at all.
Did the sacrifices made by my grandfather and other young men make it possible for us to ride a ferry to an exhibition of witty street art on an island in Sydney Harbour? If so, thanks. We’re trying to make the most of the opportunities.
I suppose Banky is no cleverer than many cartoonists whose work appears in newspapers and calendars on a daily basis – Gary Larsen, Michael Leunig, Peter van Straten, to name but a few. He has been clever in cultivating the mystique of anonymity.
Perhaps it’s also that placing the art on a public wall, rather than in a licensed publication, adds to its cheeky subversiveness.
Outpost Project runs until December 11, 2011. Entry is free.