Tattooed Head; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P]

(a) Main drawing: synthetic polymer paint on 2 sheets of paper, 172 x 122 overall

(b) Source material: gouache, fibre-tipped pen, colour inks, photo-offset lithograph, paper and black and white photocopy on cardboard (in framed panel), 120.2 x 84.4

National Gallery of Victoria (a & b above) [P.91/1989: work on paper, purchased 1989; P109.b-1989: source material, gift of the artist 1989]; additional source material components in Arkley archive ([State Library of Victoria]

(photos: from top: source material still in Arkley archive; main work on paper [NGV]; general view of 1988 installation at 200 Gertrude Street [file slide]; panel of source material as preserved in the NGV)

Arkley’s files contain slides of the ensemble as exhibited at 200 Gertrude Street in May 1988 (over-view reproduced below).  The installation at the IMA later in the year was similar, to judge from installation photos taken there. Both the main work on paper and a selection of the source material were acquired by the NGV in 1989.

The central work is an elegant monochrome reprise of Tattooed Head (1983), in reverse. The source material includes masks and head sources, working drawings based on icons, etc., a couple of early Zappo Heads, and some of the photos Arkley produced for the ‘Portrait of the Artist and Five Friends’ project (1984-5) [3/M].

The additional material still in Arkley’s archive, also reproduced here, is pasted onto clear plastic. It includes a significant sprayed and drawn head in the doubled-line technique with which Arkley had experimented earlier (see 1985), and other source images and doodles, including cacti; see also Untitled [‘Cacti-Succulents’]; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P].


  • Artist’s collection
  • NGV components acquired 1989
  • Arkley archive components acquired by the State Library of Victoria 2011


  • HA ‘Casual Works’, 200 Gertrude Street and IMA Brisbane, 1988
  • Both NGV components also shown in HA retrospective 2006-7 (Melbourne only)
  • Work on paper (a above) also shown repeatedly at the NGV
  • HA TarraWarra 12/15-2/16: NGV source material (b above)


  • Spray 4-5 and 87 (ill.)
  • Carnival Fig.4.2 (reversed)
  • Fitzpatrick & Lynn, Howard Arkley and Friends (2015), p.85 (reproduction of NGV source material: b above)