Feb 11, 2015

Luke Wren Reid
Review of Sentimental Blokes by Shannon Field (TAS) Middle Gallery, 28 November - 20 December 2014

I was asked once by a Kung Fu teacher in my first ever class what the words Kung Fu meant.  I imagined flying enchanted swords and magical punches that could shatter rock.  The teacher looked at me rather wryly and said. “It means hard work”.

I hate the word review, especially when it relates to art.  Because art is not glamorous, it is not the sum total of what you see in a gallery, nor should it ever be considered so.  Real art is hard work.  It is lived work.  Not a peanut in the corner of a white room with a university approved justification as to why it matters.  Art is not good grades nor is it good reviews or even praise.  It is the hard work of the artists pregnant with horror, chaos and great beauty birthing anew the world in which they exist.

I normally walk through galleries like some lost guest in a hotel who has chanced on some strangers wedding and in the excitement been overlooked long enough to get some free booze and a canapé. 

I did however stop to contemplate for sometime the installation of Shannon Field.  I even skimmed through the piece of paper on the wall.

What struck me were the group of crude little men with erect wooden cocks, multicoloured legs and infantile eyeballs buried under their primitive painted skulls. 

He had invoked the wickedness and sincerity of anglo men marching in circles stitching together a collage of patriotism and homesickness; with some long lost sense of purpose, of escape.  I saw the words man and convict, violence, Tasmania.  I have seen these men, I see them every day, babies who have built bodies around some post colonial wound.  Hidden. 

I am very much a product of my Tasmanian heritage, the displacement, the anger and the isolation.  I wondered if the naïve eyes poking out of these primordial skulls were as much a metaphor for the power of unrealised immature men to cause suffering.  As it was for the convicts hiding from a brutal past.  We never escape the carapace of injustice until we ourselves are put on trial.  The sentence is the Kung Fu, the hard work undergone by the artist.

Never resolved until babe is cut from it’s false history and made to grow into a product of inclusion in it’s future.

I don’t endeavour to comment on the good or bad of the work.  If I liked it or not.  But I like contemplation, and these strange devils made me think.


Luke Wren Reid
Poem inspired by the 2014 RACT Insurance Tasmanian Portraiture Prize Front & Middle Gallery , 31 October - 22 November 2014


I don’t go to enough exhibitions 
When I do its usually just for the free drinks

I wander aimlessly and stare at things 
Trying to avoid eye contact with people

Who stand between me and the bar

I feel bad for the artists 

Having to speak to people 
And explain the unexplainable

I have done it myself 
Exhibited, I left the opening

And cried

Because I just wanted to be left alone 
But artists exhibit that’s what they do 

Sometimes people even buy things 
Sometimes people care

But mostly they just amble past 

Wishing they were a musician

This is the terminal condition 
Artists have ears in their eyes that listen 
To the songs hung like voices of innocent children

On white walls 
To be picked apart or ignored

So mostly I go to galleries 
For the free drinks 
And wander like a drunk uncle 
At a zoo


Luke Wren Reid
Poem inspired by Sentimental Blokes by Shannon Field (TAS) Middle Gallery, 28 November - 20 December 2014


These tortured wooden statues
With baby blue eyes

Were not born 
They were carved from the cunt

Bound to it 
By the purple yoke

In remembrance 
We choke the cord between our legs

Though it never breaks 
We stand like carved statues 
With baby blue eyes

And wait like convicts in bondage 
Bound to cruelty 
Until all pleasure is guilty

The original boat people toiling in camps 
Waiting for the father to see us

It was purple yoke, the umbilical noose 
The furious violent cable 
The ever extending Colonial erection

That brought us 

Our dreamtime serpent has but one colour 
Though it lies breathing in our bloodlines

The arterial coil 
The knot in the guts of every colonial man 
Forever rusts

Until we honour 
The sacred connection to the Medean mother 
We are toiling in a foreign womb 
Not yet born

Surrogate children without skill to love her 
Wounded men 
Building bodies like barges

Tortured wooden statues 
With baby blue eyes



Luke Wren Reid
Poem inspired by Sentimental Blokes by Shannon Field (TAS) Middle Gallery , 28 November - 20 December 2014


Rock paper scissors wood

The primordial wand
What would deliver life
Between broken fingers drowned

In rivers of misery
The desolation of the holy

Cocks cut like knives
Shrouded with pleasure
So many innocent eyes
Blinded with terror

The purple yoke, the balls and chain
A chromosome, a letter in difference
Written in slavery
Carved into modern human existence
Erased from history 

Xx two fallen crucifixes
X and a why have we burned our women
As witches 

Why have we enslaved, tortured and trafficked
The sum total of our very existence
Like poor currency, loose change
Though the profit befits us 

Millions of unwritten apologies
Can’t buy back the cruelty of indifference
Every finger that searches without invitation
Is a digit on an insurmountable scale of damnation 

In Australia weekly two by two we count them
But there are not enough fingers on all the hands
That exist or have ever existed
That can account for the horrors these dollars
From willing fingers
Have inflicted

The many bloody roads to hell
Are paved with blind eyes turning
The railings quiver with excitement
While the red lights like devils eyes are ever lit
And burning 

Rock, paper, scissors, wood
Is always played with a fist
let them be raised for once
in protest
not violence


Luke Wren Reid
Poem inspired by the 2014 Artistic Program


You can't get sick on Saturday Sawtooth

To appreciate art is to appreciate death 
When you stand before it you are paying homage the life that was saved 
In its creation  

Which is why I can’t come to your exhibition today 
I am a million broken pieces 
Still, without a meaning  

Clumsily yet lovingly repeating 
Word by word 
Tile by tile 
A reconstruction, a renovation  

I wondered if the most beautiful artworks 
Are mandalas broken into thousands of shards 
Reunited by the loving repetition of small insignificant movements 
By pairs of hands that keep falling in love 
Every time they meet
As if it were the first time  

My hands are in an abusive relationship 
With one another 
There have been instances of domestic violence of late 
There has been talk of a separation 
But dividing up the house has been a nightmare  

Surrender to the repetition, the chaos 
Sailing or drowning, you can be precious cargo 
Or an ocean of mystery filled with artefacts and undiscovered species  

When I write I’m not digging for skeletons 
I’m panning for the gold in my veins 
If you want the rare and beautiful gems  

You need to be the mountain 
And climb over yourself, scale the heights, plant some flags on your peaks 
Be the first to get there 
Take a mental picture  

If there is an avalanche on the way down 
Admire it for its power 
You might be buried for a while