Brian McKay : 0123456789 Galerie Düsseldorf 15 February - 15 March 2009
My interest in letter forms began as a primary school child living in the small wheat belt town of Northam. This was in the early 1930’s when almost all the service deliveries were made, house to house, by horse drawn box carts and sulkies. These were the butcher, iceman, grocer, baker, greengrocer and milkman.
All the carts and sulkies bore the signage of each profession, in high gloss enamel letters with elaborately decorative scrolls and drop shades in bright colours, outlined in many instances with gold leaf. Even the spokes on the wooden wheels were filigreed with brilliant fine black and gold lines. As an impressionable child, I was fascinated.
I left Northam to join the Navy in 1943 and after training at Flinders Naval Base I was posted to, of all places, the Persian Gulf, minesweeping and dropping depth charges on German submarines. I was soon appointed as ship’s artist and commissioned to paint an image of a boxing kangaroo and motto on the canvas shroud of the crow’s nest. My other task was to paint the identification numbers on the ship’s side, suspended in a bosun’s chair, the huge numerals in black on grey, 76 J.
Demobilised in 1946 I was employed in graphics and advertising, and as a restless youth was drawn to motor racing. Here again my skills were in much demand in applying well designed numbers on the doors of the competing cars.
The works in this exhibition are an echo of that bygone period.
Brian McKay February 2009
This body of work was commenced during Brian McKay’s Artist in Residence at the Holmes à Court Gallery in 2008