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Down Under: Whole Serie Enlarge

About the Work

In the smart centre of Sydney is a massive statue of Captain Cook. It looked a bit like an exclamation mark to me but without the dot. So I went dot-hunting and soon found one in Newtown, a run-down Sydney suburb. In front of the aboriginal flag sat Elizabeth Donovan. She said that she was a full-blooded Aborigine and that a few years back she had come to Sydney from remote Cape York to escape an abusive husband. When I started to explain what I was trying to do, she advised me to travel up there as that was about as down under as I could possibly want to go.

Down Under

In 2009 I went around the world. I had no justification other than accompanying my wife on one of her publisher's business trips. Before we set off, lots of people enquired whether we would be going 'down under'. Yes, we were going to Oz. But at our first port of call, Singapore, as I wandered about aimlessly, my wife away in business meetings, I stumbled across my first down under. I was rather pleased as I now had some additional justification, even a sense of pride in undertaking such an extravagant journey.
Because my wife publishes books in the English language, our trip called at English-speaking countries. Each had evolved, one way or another, from the British Empire. The three things I remember of that organisation is everyone saluting the flag on Empire Day, a big map of the world in the classroom, lots of it coloured red, and my father's Daily Express with its 'EMPIRE and Foreign Desk.'
This trip took me a little below those scanty and superficial memories. Even to this tourist it was clear that there was an underlying and special peculiarity to each of these English-speaking places, established long ago, a long way from their origin in empire.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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