Conditioned to living with the possibility of a nuclear barbecue, as well as with the threat of HIV/AIDS, many young people have lost the instinct for imagining a future stretching too far beyond their own goals. Scott Redford feeds off and exacerbates the aesthetics and sociology of pop youth culture. The mood of his work is a cocktail of longing and erotic fatality. Redford blends perfect pitch with a sharp critical sensibility, to get us to the future fast. Some of his work actually keys in future dates, impossibly far off ones, like AD 5062 or 7066. There is yearning in that, from a boy who grew up in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where survival as an artist in the teeth of all its hedonism and tourist glitz must also have been a challenge. Recalling his all-black paintings and coated enamel floor-pieces from 1984, there is as well an ironic response to a place with a vested interest in the obliteration of history (Redford quotes sociologist Hugh Mackay to this effect).
The mix of promise and loss can be revealed in a work such as the 1990 series ‘After drawings by my brother Adam McCaull’, which reproduced on stretched paper his brother’s ballpoint pen drawings of football players. His brother had died of heart complications at the age of fourteen. Made up of vinyl lettering on a wall with real objects on the floor, ‘PHOTO: the pizza boy ...’, also resonates with this air of elegy. The two larger texts on the wall read: ‘The pizza boy doesn’t deliver anymore’, and, ‘And the motorcycle boy’s never coming back’. The first refers to porn scenarios with the delivery boy; the second recalls the biker character in the 1983 movie ‘Rumble fish’ by Francis Ford Coppola. On the floor is a black rubber tyre making an ‘O’, a black leather jacket, a pair of Doc Martens, a studded belt and a vinyl pizza warmer. The clothes suggest presence and absence, and the bittersweet sense that the experience has and has not taken place.
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection Handbook, 2006
vinyl lettering on wall, Converse trainers, black Doc Martin boots, black leather jacket, black studded leather belt, Silvio's pizza warmer, bathroom mirror with surf stickers, car tyre
320.0 x 380.0 cm approx.
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the artist 2004
Not on display
© Scott Redford. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Referenced in 5 publications
George Alexander, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Popism and screen culture', pg.204-245, Sydney, 2006, 236 (colour illus.).
Christopher Chapman, Surf or Die, selected essays, reviews, interviews and articles - on the work of Scott Redford 1986-1996, 'My own private Idaho: recent works by Scott Redford', pg. 121-124, Queensland, 1996, 123 (illus.), 143 (illus.).
Christopher Chapman, Art and Australia (Vol. 33, No. 3), 'My own private Idaho: recent works by Scott Redford', Sydney, Autumn 1996.
David Phillips, Gay and Lesbian perspectives 4, 'The performative image: contemporary Gay photography in Australia', Sydney, 1998.
David Phillips, Guy in the dunes, '(Dis-) Assembling identity', pg.40-47, Brisbane, 1997, 47 (illus.).