Still Life with Stone and Car

American artist, Jimmie Durham’s “Still Life with Stone and Car” 2004 is a striking work plonked in the middle of a roundabout where Pottinger road curving down from the sandstone cliff meets Hickson road at pier 2/3. As the name suggests this work this work involves a stone and a car but the stone is more than a stone, it’s a huge, craggy, veined quarts white boulder that likely weighs several tonnes. At one and a half meters high and nearly two meters wide it lies embedded in the battered red hatchback that it is crushed. This car with boulder has been placed bonnet towards pier three in the middle of the low concrete centre of the roundabout.

On the Harbour Bridge side of the boulder, two black and white cartoon like eyes, a pinkish mouth and a couple of crooked brown eyebrows have been painted in strategic spots to make a giant face. It resembles graffiti but it is Durham’s handy work. He thinks the face gives the artwork a strange narrative. The eyes are painted in two rough indentations toward the top of the boulder and the mouth has been placed just below a lump that could be a nose. The wonky eyebrows follow slight rocky ridges above the left eye and down beside the right one.

The car itself gives the impression of a hard life, it’s a 1999 Ford Festiva but this is difficult to discern. The front grill is missing as are the number plates and any chrome features, strips or bits that might help identify it. The post box red duco is dull and crumpled. This artwork began life as a kind of performance piece for the 2004 Biennale of Sydney. Durham chose the car from a second hand car yards along Parramatta road with two criteria, it had to be red and it had to be just the right size for the boulder and then on the forecourt of the Sydney opera house, he dropped the rock on the car.

Durham says that this piece, like most of his recent work is concerned with monuments and monumentality but also with nature, that implacable hard stuff.

“In the first instance I am using the stone as a tool to change the shape of the object but I also, as usual, want to make the stone more light, more moveable. Even if it is in a horrible way like a road accident. I do not think the piece is humorous, even though it turns out to be.”

In 2008, Transfield holdings augmented the cultural landscape of the Walsh Bay precinct with the launch of the Walsh Bay sculpture walk, an outdoor exhibition of works from the Transfield art collection and through loans from artists and private patrons.

The Walsh Bay sculpture walk is a vibrant outdoor exhibition of sculptures located around Walsh Bay, just west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are currently seven sculpture works located throughout the precinct. Some can be found near or along the broad sweep of Hickson road, which curves behind the five finger wharfs of Walsh Bay while others can be found on the Wharfs themselves.

– Jimmie Durham 2004 

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