Kick after the siren, Tapalinga Hawks vs Milikapiti Magpies
If you see rubbish on the ground, why pick it up when you can set it on fire? If there’s a chair in the way of the TV, why move it when you can burn it to the ground? Just about every problem in Milikapiti can be solved by covering it in petrol and reducing it to ashes.
During burning season, you are woken up on Sunday mornings by kids in nappies walking around your backyard with a 1.25 litre plastic coke bottle full of petrol and a box of matches hoping to find some tiny shrub or blade of grass that hasn’t already been burnt to a crisp. Every house in Milikpiti has an iron drum constantly billowing smoke out the front, and the community dogs have to get up on hind legs and look into the fire for the less burning things to eat. Most Milikapiti dogs have burnt noses and tongues.
“History is subjective, people can pick out events and stories that they think are important.” And that is what Hayes is referring to by making up past dates to accompany the images in this body of work. This painting (above) was painted in Milikapiti. The artist’s local neighbours would visit him at work, an easel set up under the house. This painting was quite popular. Someone suggested it should be on display in the community club; another neighbour found it funny , stating it reminded her of how it used to be when she was a child. The community now has strict regulations regarding alcohol consumption, no alcohol was permitted at football matches while the artist was there. Hayes says of this work: “The main part of the story is how white Australian culture tries to order Tiwi life. In the background rubbish is burnt (Tiwi) rather than collected – rubbish pile burn offs, and this helps to explain why they are all over the field. One as an aesthetic device and two to reinforce the theme of the picture. Two ways of handling a problem in concert. Football is another analogy for white culture trying to order Tiwi life according to their rules, in this case footy rules. Here the whole team is standing on the mark, opposing team members are hugging. The rules work to a degree, but are adapted by the local culture, not fully accepted.
The beer cans I’ve used as an aesthetic device too. They are quite easily understood as they were everywhere, and on the footy field, the sun fades them and they become aqua in colour, they actually look quite beautiful. And when I was there it wasn’t a judgement that there were beer cans or that it was an embarrassment.”
This work was also included in the local art competition The Footy Art exhibition in 2005, where Kevin Sheedy (Essendon FC Coach at the time) awarded it First Prize. – M. Soni, June 2012.