We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Jason Phu EVERYTHING STINKS UNDER A STINKING HOT SUN, EVERYTHING GROWS UNDER A SEXY SEXY SUMMER SUN (after a pile of dead rats on a lovely flower bed in the rocks)

acrylic on canvas

213.5 x 198.3 cm

Jason Phu, who is also a finalist in this year’s Archibald and Sulman Prizes, said in relation to this painting:

‘I worked as a kitchenhand at Phillip’s Foote Restaurant in The Rocks for most of my early twenties. I would meet the deliveries in the morning, make trays of coleslaw with 5-litre buckets of mayonnaise and clean the communal BBQ grills at the end of the night. Sometimes the Circular Quay ghost tours would walk through because one of our bin rooms was haunted.

‘One year, all the heads of the restaurants had to get together because the rats became addicted to the coffee grounds in everyone’s bins; it made them aggressive and gave them super-rat strength. All the businesses in the area had to put their grounds in steel-trap bins for six months to wean them off their addiction.

‘The city installed nice garden beds along the street at some point and the rats used to nap in them. The restaurant doesn’t exist anymore, it shut a couple of years ago. I wonder if the ghost tours still walk through.’

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