The Charmer's Picnic (2015)

Exhibition details

If you have a minute or two I will tell you a story. The Charmers Picnic began at least fifty years ago, with the planting of trees in many locations around the world.

I am a hoarder and a junk tramp, finding it difficult to leave brand new picnic baskets, broken guitars and rare steam-bent timbers in the street. They need to be nurtured and pass into another realm.

So I start with this pile of exquisite objects and they chat with me. They also call out to make friends with other objects. I don't feel I have much to do with this process, my mind and muscles are too busy with how I will join this bit with that, united in the making.

I am also on the hunt at Vinnies, the Salvos and “junk” shops for pre-loved abandoned objects. One feels good supporting a charity and if these objects can't find a place in my work, they will be returned and have another journey to a new owner.

Back to the sculpture. How did I get sidetracked?  What do I have here? It's a picnic that a snake charmer has set up in Lapu Lapu. He is a 'flirt', an old man who likes to think he can still charm a lady. He came from the country and has a love for the natural world. I see that there is not just snakes but fish swimming in strange locations, an entombed Rosella, even Camels craning their necks.

He was once a sailor, partly because he was afraid of the sea. As a boy, he dreamed of being a cabin boy on a fully rigged Clipper. A grey battle ship wasn't what he expected. Any basket reminds him of a fisherman's basket. To have an ocean inside a basket  is a natural thing. All picnics have food and utensils so that can't be left out.

The charmer's friend has come along to test out his new guitar. He is afraid of snakes so, he thinks, if he plays well, the tune will keep them at bay. There is also the chance that he will charm a young woman.
So there you have only half of it. If you give yourself time, the piece will perhaps take you to another destination.

Merrick, 2014