Three Aussie icons- the out-the-back dunny, a Holden Ute and Dame Edna have been united to form a humorous artwork for “The Utes in the Paddock” gallery. This comic surprise has a deeper meaning – an exploration of Australian society's evolution.
Once there was a dunny in every yard, of every house. Call it what you may- the long drop, loo, throne, WC, karzy or dunny - the ‘out-the-back’ toilet is still a familiar sight in country towns and rural properties across Australia. Variations in design often demonstrate amazing ingenuity. ‘The Dunny’ is a great leveller (from queens to paupers) as we all must make the trip.
Dunny stories (including red back spiders, dunny frogs and grannies) are part of Aussie folklore. What is a ‘Dunny’? A corrugated iron building, usually with a door. Inside is a bench to sit on, with a hole cut out, under which is a deep hole in the ground. Or there could be a toilet seat placed on a ‘dunny can’ - a removable can or large tin drum. Toilet paper consists of squares of newspaper hooked on a wire peg alongside the bench or on the back of the door. Quite a stretch to flushing porcelain toilets inside designer bathrooms.
An original Australian concept, the Holden utility has evolved from its humble beginnings in 1951 to present day as art in an outback gallery. The ‘Ute’ is an essential part of Australian rural and bush life -an enduring symbol of hard work and a laidback lifestyle. The Utes’ development reflects the changing social history of this country from the practical workhorse of earlier times, to a performance focused sports vehicle for today’s work-hard, play-hard generation.
What better guest than Dame Edna Everage! Aussie actor and comedian Barry Humphries’ ‘Aunt Edna’ character evolved from a 1950’s Moonee Ponds housewife to an international super star with knighthood credentials. Her growth parallels that of Australia from an isolated colony to the world stage.
Dame Edna is an instantly recognised Australian icon with lilac coloured hair (which she claims is natural) and those oversized ‘cat eye’ glasses, complete with diamantes. She is the larrikin humourist, a leveller of social customs, and the disrespectful lady. The now classy ‘Dame’ holds nothing sacred including her own persona. She is an Aussie, looking and laughing hard at Aussies and at the rest of the world.
So here she sits, as surprised by us as we are surprised by finding her, on her ‘throne’ reading the local paper. In all her splendour, Edna in an outback dunny inside a Holden ute – an icon, on an icon, in an icon.
A highly regarded member of the local community of Condobolin, Karen shares her passion for, and dedication to outback life in all aspects of her daily activities. After teaching visual arts for 25 years, Karen is now relishing the freedom to practise her own art, though her career change into the newspaper business (the Condobolin Argus) limits her personal creative time.
As an artist Karen is mostly self taught though she also completed a Degree in Fine Arts and Psychology and a Diploma in Education. Through experimenting with new ways to enthuse her teenage pupils about art, she developed a diverse art practice and a broad range of artistic and personal themes for her own work. Of her varied interest Karen says “I like what Danny Kaye once said, “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can’.”
Karen’s artwork can be found on www.karentooth.com