Past Catalogue | Important Australian & International Art – March 2022 | Date: 31 March, 2022

Lot 38
Boy's Own - Flight Home 2007
synthetic polymer paint on linen
96.0 x 195.0 cm

signed lower right: Storrier
signed, dated and inscribed on stretcher verso: 'Boy's Own - Flight Home (Umagarlee)'/ Storrier/ 2007

Provenance:

Art Equity, Sydney
Private collection, Western Australia

Estimate
A$60,000
-
A$80,000
Hammer Price + BP A$104,318.18

Five decades of creative endeavour have seen Tim Storrier rise to the very pinnacle of Australian art. He has won all the important prizes and is eagerly sought by art collectors nationwide. His work might not have found favour in high academe, but in the broad court of popular opinion he is among the best. At auction, his top dozen works have averaged just on a quarter of a million dollars, an extraordinary figure for a working artist barely into his seventies. Success has been achieved by using his own unique vision, a way of looking at the world that seems at odds with our notions of importance and high art. Tim Storrier presents us with his imagination and memory, in stunningly beautiful and exquisitely crafted images both unpretentious and disarmingly simple. The roll call of Storrier’s world seems banal and inconsequential - a crumpled mattress on a desert plain, a worn-out chair abandoned in the outback, an old black dog tied to a post, a burning rope stretched between two poles and, as with the current work, a paper dart made from the pages of a newspaper. What lifts these works and challenges our preconceptions is their scale and the perfection of the image. Every square centimetre of the grand canvas has received the intense scrutiny of the painter, defying the rules by painting the vast space with a tiny brush better suited to a miniature painter.

The ‘dart paintings’ have allowed Storrier to play with perceptions of scale and meaning, and what is important in a work of art. The simple paper dart, the classroom construction of generations of schoolboys, allows us to experience the miracle of flight. One sheet of paper, artfully folded, can streak across a room toward an unwitting target, or in the outdoors, fly a hundred metres when launched from a high vantage point. It has an immediacy and scale we all relate to. But Storrier’s dart is a grand vision, far too large for classroom warfare. We see from the intricately painted newsprint that it must be huge, crafted from a sturdy broadsheet more than twenty columns wide. This dart is not the captive of the classroom, but soars into the stratosphere above the clouds, winging its way to outer space. Storrier has lifted the humble dart to something majestic, a supersonic jetliner or the star destroyer from the Star Wars movies.

Unlike other versions of the composition, where flames flare from the burning paper, echoing the burning rope thousands of feet below on the desert floor, Boy's Own - Flight Home, is crisp and sharp, its creases firm and true. The artist’s illustrative style references the richly illustrated boxes used for plastic model aircraft kits, which fascinated boys of Tim’s generation in the late 1950s. These elaborate illustrations, most notably those of the American company Revell, were an inspiration to many young would-be artists of the time.

For the viewer it creates conflicting thoughts – the grand scale and sheer power of the giant aircraft draws the eye, but then one is seduced by the intricate detail and close-up reading of the content on the page. We are between grand conception and the mundane world of classified advertising that filled back pages of newspapers of fifty years ago. Nostalgia for a generation is a small mystery for the young, for whom screen grabs from Trove are their only experience of the broadsheet ‘dailies.’

 

Gavin Fry
Gavin Fry is a writer, artist and museum professional with fifty years’ experience working in curatorial and management positions in Australian museums, galleries and educational institutions.