16.07.03 - 03.08.03


 

garry pumfrey

     
 

The shop on the corner has played a unique role in our national history, particularly as a testament of an evolving cultural heritage through European and Asian migration and settlement in Australia.

In this, his third solo exhibition, Garry Pumfrey has shifted his sights from the single distorted and discarded consumerist item such as the Coke can to our beloved corner shop, also distorted in the endless battles for sovereignty with the chain-store monopolies. Shrouded and branded by product slogans, washed over by loud colours and the logos of the newest dipping chip or fizzy drink or more ironically the only two newspapers in town, the humble corner shop may soon be just a diorama in some local museum.

The corner shop used to be a meeting place, a familiar location, small and intimate. Often it was the front room of a family home. Families lived and worked in the shop all their lives and their children grew up between the counter and the back room. As family-run businesses they were full of life and each had their own flavour.

Pumfrey’s shops on the other hand are desolate and lonely. They are actual businesses in the area of Victoria Park and Carlisle, older areas that have retained much of their original external character, but they could be in any suburb.

The Carlisle Fish Supply stands stark and sandwiched between two other shops. The door sign reads 'open' yet the shop’s interior looks dark and murky, almost uninviting. Dave’s Rite Price is haunting, austere and barren. There is a struggle between the advertising, slogans and logos vying for your attention and the blinding whiteness of the walls almost deterring potential customers. With its doors closed it seems to announce an inevitable end. The lack of windows also creates an alienating atmosphere.
Pumfrey’s use of light is strategic. The glare is sharp, the shafts of light coming across his surfaces are severe. He creates an unsettling landscape, a feeling of unease, and an ominous silence. This feeling is heightened when you realise you are looking at a scene in the middle of an active suburban area. The staged manipulation of the light, the starkness of the landscape, the coldness of the road and the footpath, the clarity of the blue skies all add to this sense of foreboding.

The humble corner shop in an attempt to make itself more visible is ironically manipulated into advertising the products that we generally buy in the large department stores, and possibly has no real advantage for the shop owner. In Lunch Bar, it is clear which soft drink product has overwhelmed the external view. If this was an attempt to make the building evident to residents and commuters, it deserves full marks. It may be eye-catching yet it is anything but welcoming.

Giles Supa Deli
is awash with diverse product information. It is however one of the few images of shops in the exhibition where the door is open and inviting. There is a hint of life in the back-lights of a car moving away into the background, maybe one of the few drive-by customers that day.

We cannot blame the extended trading hours, the centralised shopping centres, and the commercial monopolies alone. Pumfrey’s works hint at the slow demise of the corner shop tradition as a by-product of our changing society, our indoctrination by product advertising strategies, the legacy of the post war economic boom, which has led to mass consumerism and a throwaway tradition. In the face of changing traditions and social trends the corner store has survived steadfast for two hundred years across Australia, it has defined our way of life and remains one of our most recognised national icons.

PAOLA ANSELMI
june 2003

 

*prices valid 2003

 
carlisle fish supply
oil on canvas
78 x 118cm
2003
$1400
SOLD
carlisle growers market
oil on canvas
56 x 76cm
2003
$750
SOLD
coke
oil on canvas
114 x 203cm
2001
$2200
SOLD
post delirious
oil on canvas
55 x 41cm
2002
$600
SOLD
giles supa deli
oil on canvas
75 x 99cm
2003
$1200 SOLD
pepsi
oil on canvas
141 x 113cm
2001
$1700
 
 
handymart
oil on board
28.6 x 38.4cm
2003
$350
SOLD
dave's right price food store
acrylic on canvas
61 x 91cm
2003
$1000
SOLD
 
   
rabbit proof fence
oil on canvas
37.5 x 27.8cm
2003
$450
SOLD
giles from mint
oil on canvas
23.5 x 52cm
2003
$400
SOLD

This page is an archived record of this exhibition. Prices are valid for the year of exhibition only.

Please contact the gallery or check the stockroom to confirm current availability and prices.

All artwork reproductions are © the artist. Images may not be used without permission from turner galleries and the artist.

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