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Home Sweet Home: works from the Peter Fay collection
11 October – 18 January 2004

Slim BARRIE | Lady driver | 2000
Slim BARRIE
Swan Hill Victoria Australia 1942
Lady driver 2000
synthetic polymer paint, and found objects on cardboard
38.5 X 88.0 X 30.0 cm

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PF A very great friend of mine, Nigel Lenden, found one of Slim�s boats in an op-shop in Lakes Entrance, and he rang me immediately and said �I�ve found something here that you�re going to be absolutely interested in � it�s right up your alley�

PF A very great friend of mine, Nigel Lenden, found one of Slim’s boats in an op-shop in Lakes Entrance, and he rang me immediately and said ‘I’ve found something here that you’re going to be absolutely interested in — it’s right up your alley’.

So, down I went, and met Slim, and found a man who for the last three years has done nothing, and I mean nothing, else but make his art, twenty-four hours a day. I don’t think the man ever sleeps.

He has been making a series of boats, and the boat that we are looking at here is called Lady driver. Its form and function would scream ‘boat’. It’s made out of cardboard, and decorated in the most idiosyncratic way. It also doubles as a penholder. Slim’s a great one for making sure that we’ve always got a pen, because, as he says, you never know when you’ll want one.

So, it doubles as that, but at the same time it plays around with that idea of the various problems of incorporating found objects, whether they be gum nuts, or yoghurt, or biros, or jewellery; all of this sort of detritus that was firstly from his mother’s collection, and then around the streets of his little town.

It becomes a problem of incorporating the well-known and very strongly associated objects into something completely different. And what Slim has done is to transcend all of those things and create a boat.

And although the things, if you look at them individually and out of context, they just don’t make sense, within the logic of his structure of his world, the whole thing does make sense, and so it’s almost right at the heart of what so much of art-making is about.

It’s the rawness and the immediacy of what he is doing. It’s so in your face. It’s only cardboard; it’s only this, and yet there’s that other part of the brain that’s screaming at you ‘NO, it’s not, it’s something else’.

What might look to be a humble, crudely put together boat has an extraordinary magic, and at the end of the day Slim would always take his boats down to the lake to float them, to make sure that he had actually made a boat. And so one is aware that it comes back into that playful realm; these are boats to play with.