Spot the Difference (Slow) 1983

Spot the Difference (Slow) 1983 [1]

Spot the Difference (Slow) 1983 [2]

Alternate titles: Amphetamine (Spot the Difference) and Spot the Difference (B)
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, c.160 x 200 (?)
signed, dated and titled [on reverse: according to Sotheby’s 11/99]
Coll.: unknown

This painting has a particularly complicated history. It was first exhibited at the NGV in Feb.1983, as Amphetamine (Spot the Difference), and then at Roslyn Oxley9, 6/83 as Spot the Difference (B) – in each case together with Spot the Difference (Fast) 1983, its green ‘twin’. As shown in 1983, it took the form reproduced here (via slides in Arkley’s archive and the Monash Visual Arts slide library).

Sometime between 1983 and 1994, Arkley evidently modified the canvas, adding extra shading; revised state also shown here – compare e.g. the feet and mask at upper right. The changes are in tune with the spirit of the puzzles from which these works take their name (for comments, see Spray 60 and Carnival 79).

The canvas was reproduced in its revised form in the Sotheby’s 1994 auction catalogue, then in Spray, and more recently in a Melbourne real estate advertisement (for details, see references below). In either its original or modified form, the work may also have been shown in HA Quentin 2/85 as Spot the Difference – Slow, although the lack of installation photos leaves it uncertain whether it was actually shown there at all.

The painting was auctioned again shortly after the artist’s death, in November 1999, and again in October 2000.

Reproductions: (1) Original state (1983); (2) Revised state, as reproduced 1994


  • history 1983-94 unknown
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 21 Oct.1994, lot 168 (details as above; ill.[revised state]: as Spot the Difference; est. $6-8,000; not sold)
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 22-23 Nov.1999, lot 43 (as Spot the Difference (Slow); sd+t 1983; est.$15-18,000; sold for $18,000 + buyer’s premium)
  • auctioned by Goodman’s, Sydney, 23 Oct.2000, lot 136 (as Spot the Difference, 1983, 160 x 199.5; sd+t on reverse; ill.[revised state]; est.$50-80,000; not sold (these details via AASD website 9/09)


  • McCaughey Prize, NGV, 2/83, cat.3, as Amphetamine (Spot the Difference) (size given as 160 x 200)
  • HA Roslyn Oxley 6/83, cat. 2, as Spot the Difference (B)
  • (probably) HA Quentin, Perth, 2/85,cat.8 (Spot the Difference (Slow) (Arkley’s file notes for the Quentin show describe the twin painting as ‘green’)
  • HA Gould 8/01, cat.4


  • Spray 60, illustrating the work in its revised state, as Spot the Difference (Slow), 210 x 150
  • Carnival 79 and Fig.2.28: revised state: as Amphetamine (Spot the Difference) [aka Spot the Difference) (B)] 1983
  • Emerald Hill Weekly, Aug. 1-7, 2007, p.52: real estate advertisement, showing the work in a South Melbourne property