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The Piano of my Brother

By Sharne Wolff

Taking a stroll around Noel McKenna’s exhibition is a rather humbling experience. McKenna’s quirky sense of humour plays with the notion of the ‘special’ qualities of art and has him seeking out the most ordinary subjects imaginable. Houses, domestic interiors and animals are painted in childlike fashion, spare in detail and colour but whimsical, and laden with sentiment.

For a series of earthenware tiles, McKenna plucks familiar objects from his kitchen table and the shelves of his studio and animates them with charm. Two ink drawings on paper comprise written lists entitled, ‘Things that bug me about today’s world’ and ‘Things that I like about today’s world’, the first being the longer of the two. The stand out painting in the show, however, would have to be ‘Public Toilets Sydney CBD’ where McKenna has continued his long running series of ‘map paintings’ by mapping the male toilets of the city from the Opera House to Paddy’s Market. On his many wanderings McKenna rated each toilet from a total score of 10 according to a complex system. It considers, amongst other things, the standard of porcelain, lighting (fluoro, halogen etc), cleanliness, colour and most importantly, the grade of toilet paper (‘Long roll thin’, ‘better than most’). The comments and ratings are handwritten and reproduced with the map on a large acrylic and enamel on canvas. Apparently Sydney’s best toilet is ‘number 8 in the Opera House’.

Darren Knight Gallery, Waterloo

Until 3 November 2012


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