Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WOW !!!

By Tony De Bolfo
3:37 PM Thu 09 Aug, 2012

Jon Campbell stands in front of his amazing piece of art. Image courtesy of Peter Casamento.
For any self-respecting Carlton fan of the 1970s and 80s, the words “WOW”, “DOMINATOR” and “THE FLYING DOORMAT” were as much a part of the vernacular as the coveted guernsey numbers 2, 7 and 11.

But one such Blueboy - the Irish-born Melbourne artist Jon Campbell - has taken it a step further. In committing the nicknames to plywood in enamel, he’s not only picked up the $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize, but ensured these famous football monikers carry as much clout as they did when Lou Richards first concocted them for The Sun News-Pictorial.

Jon’s work, “Dream Team”, features a total of 22 enamel paintings on board, with “SOS” completing the Carlton presence.

“It’s a throwback to my support of the game in those early and teenage years when I was more heavily involved in a fan,” Jon said.

“I’ve used sporting imagery in my artwork over the years, but nothing on this scale. I did make a painting a couple of years ago that just read ‘Richo’, and ‘Dream Team’ was an extension of the nickname theme.”

According to the blurb, Campbell’s “Dream Team” serves as a celebration to the quintessential football supporter.

“The winning work, Jon Campbell’s compendium of nicknames of AFL legends old and new, epitomizes a quintessentially Australian approach to sporting heroes: colloquial, knockabout nicknames, showing a combination of admiration and mischievous wit,” said the Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne Dr Chris McAuliffe.

“Hard core fans will recognize the players’ nicknames, but all will recognize the Australian habit of casting heroes as the bloke next door.

“Judges commended Campbell’s blending of a Pop art style with the colloquial language of the suburbs. The deceptively simple panels in Dream Team combine the colour palette of the suburban home, the typography of the shopping strip and the passions of the public bar.”

Born in Belfast in 1961, Jon was but a boy of two and a half when he migrated with his family to Australia, not long before Ron Barassi’s much-celebrated exodus from Melbourne to Carlton.

Image courtesy of Peter Casamento.

Growing up in Altona, Jon was mindful of the importance of supporting a footy team, “and at that time kids were mainly barracking for Carlton, Collingwood or Richmond”.

“There were a few Doggies supporters around too, but I was leaning towards Carlton because Alex Jesaulenko was around at the time and he got me excited,” Jon said.

“Thinking about it now, the clincher came when (1972 Carlton premiership player) Paul Hurst came to the school. He taught me at Altona Primary and he used to get these passes which I’d get clipped at the gate to see Carlton games. I must have been eight or nine then.”

Jon pursued his studies in painting at RMIT before completing a Graduate Diploma at the VCA in 1985. Widely exhibited, he has lectured in painting at the VCA since 1999.

John’s work, together with the works of other artists, can be viewed at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, Swanston Street (between Elgin & Faraday Streets) in Parkville, from Tuesday to Friday (10am-5pm) or Saturday and Sunday (12-5pm).

Admission is free and visitors to the Potter Museum can enter a competition to win two Grand Final Tickets, when they fill in the form for the Yarra Trams People’s Choice competition and nominate which artwork they prefer!

To see Jon Campbell wax lyrical with noted art critic and sometime Melbourne football writer Rohan Connolly, click here.

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