Unbridled Vehicles

And while we are looking at vehicles of all shapes, sizes, functions, let's take a look at some vehicles as depicted at rest in the desert by Australian artist John Pickup.

Don Quixote and the 1927 Dream Machine by John Pickup ©

The first painting is of the enigmatic character of Don Quixote who features in many of John's paintings and is seen here admiring The 1927 Dream Machine.

What is going on in this painting? We see the figure of Don Quixote contemplating an abandoned vehicle which is a common sight in the outback. Yesterday we saw some unwanted vehicles being given new life by Robert Fielding. And here we have Don Quixote channelling the thoughts of John Pickup perhaps wondering how the car came to be left in the desert. Questioning who might have been travelling in this vehicle, where were they going, what stories could they tell. It's a wonderful painting that provokes many interpretations.

The next painting by John Pickup is titled King Air on Finals. The painting illustrates a typical scene in the outback with the arrival of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) bringing help to the people who live in remote areas. The painting was used to raise funds for the RFDS being reproduced as posters and greeting cards.

In the distance is a trusty jeep contrasted with the horse and rider, both essential forms of transport in this rugged landscape.

King Air on Finals by John Pickup ©

Travelling Life's Highway (below) was painted by John for an important person in his life who was about to embark on travelling life's highway. No explanation is required as this skilled artist has conveyed all he wanted to say through the colours, the textures, and most importantly through the composition.

Travelling Life's Highway by John Pickup ©

John Pickup's painting of Mulga Bill and his Bicycle (seen below) is one of my favourites. Mulga Bill is welded onto his penny-farthing bicycle as the pair race towards the Mulga Hill Hotel in Broken Hill.

Mulga Bill and his Bicycle by John Pickup ©

Subscribers from across the waters will not know the great Aussie poem about Mulga Bill so I thought you would enjoy reading it, accompanied by John Pickup's painting.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle by 'Banjo' Paterson

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; It's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

© Thank you to John Pickup who kindly gave permission for the images of his work to be shared on AnArt4Life.