Our Home (1986)

Our Home (1986)

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 160 x 120

Coll.: unknown

This key example of Arkley’s emerging suburban theme was first shown in his 1986 Tolarno exhibition.

Virginia Trioli’s essay ‘This is the house we used to live in’ (written for the 1995 ‘Downtown catalogue, although this work did not appear in that exhibition) brilliantly evokes the complex tone of this picture, hovering somewhere between a tribute to suburbia, and a severe critique of it: ‘Arkley abandons us… to figure out his take on an Australian reality constructed from loathing, sentimentality, embarrassment, tile, bricks and mortar’ (Engberg 1995: 49).

For the work’s ‘uncanny’ character, as evident for instance in the dark bush looming outside the front window, see the comments in Carnival 26. Conversely (and perhaps somewhat surprisingly), the authors of Spray see the painting as ‘a richly detailed and exuberant suburban idyll’, and Edwina Preston (2002) describes it as a ‘love letter’ from Arkley to Christine Johnson (his partner at the time)! Trioli’s sharp comments seem much nearer the mark.

Arkley’s working drawing (based on a real estate source) is preserved in his studio files. The same composition was used again (to very different effect) in Spray Veneer (1994).

Provenance

  • Sold to Sydney firm via Melbourne dealer John Buckley (according to Arkley’s files, 1986)
  • P/C Sydney (caption in Engberg 1987: 387)
  • Recorded in P/C Melb. in NGVA retrospective exh. planning files 2006
  • Former owners note now with Deutscher 4/09 (email correspondence)

Exhibited

  • HA Tolarno 9/86, cat.7
  • HA retrospective 2006-7 (all 3 venues)

Literature

  • Engberg 1987: 387 (as P/C Sydney, 154 x 203 cm)
  • Engberg 1995 (Downtown cat.), p.48 (ill.) and 49ff. (Trioli essay, quoted above)
  • Spray 81 (ill.) and 83 (quoted above)
  • Preston 2002:147
  • Carnival 26 and Fig.1.13