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Urban paintings

I was involved in a drive-by ‘photo’ shoot this morning.

No, it wasn’t anything sinister; rather a moment of inspiration. Seeing eyes, a digital camera, and an obliging husband made it possible.

The drive to work every morning is long – not in distance but in time. The truth be known, I hate this drive. I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that it is not as bad as I think it is; after all, I do get to be reminded twice a day of the stunningly beautiful city I am fortunate to live in! I also remind myself that I have made this choice to drive to work because it is the best option for me.

No matter how I try to sugar coat this daily experience it is something I do not enjoy. I find it a drag and a total waste of time.

As a driver I can’t afford to let my mind wander. I have to concentrate on the road ahead and the other drivers. I have to be alert and focused. The problem is I don’t want to be. I want to be doing other things like writing, drawing, reading, or taking photographs.

I have tried to turn this driving time into productive down time – listening to music, motivational speakers, interesting news reports, interviews – but it hasn’t been enough to change the way I feel.

This morning we hadn’t even left our suburb before we found ourselves at a standstill – cars, fumes, impatient drivers, no one prepared to let another car join the queue in front of them – one of the down sides of city living I suppose.

I was looking straight ahead and was wondering when we were going to start moving again. My passengers (my husband and daughter) had the luxury of looking wherever they wanted to.

“Someone’s been busy,” said Lynsey.

I didn’t respond.

“Interesting life drawing,” he said.

I kept concentrating on the road ahead. I remained silent.

“I wonder if anyone posed? She must have been cold,” continued Lynsey.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

I turned my head to look at him. It was in that moment I saw her through the car window. She was beautiful. A luscious woman emblazoned on the bank beside the road.

I wanted to look at her. She made me smile.

The traffic was showing signs of movement up ahead. What was I to do?

“Quick, take a photo,” I pleaded. There was no time to waste. The photo opportunity was going to be over any second.

I knew it would be dark when I drove home that evening so I wouldn’t be able to see her clearly. Even worse someone may have removed her entirely before I got a chance to look at her properly.

Out came Lynsey’s camera. Flash. She was captured. There was no time for a second photo as I was already holding up the traffic.

I had to drive on.

“How long had she been there?” I wondered. I drove past this spot every day and I hadn’t noticed her before this morning and that was only after she was pointed out to me.

I have no idea who painted her. There was no signature or tag obviously present. I wondered if this painting would be classified as graffiti.

“Was this the modern day equivalent of a cave painting?” I asked myself.

I wasn’t sure.

A recent controversial theory has proposed that cave paintings may be an early form of prehistoric teen graffiti.

Testosterone-fuelled boys created most prehistoric cave art, according to a recently published book by one of the world’s leading authorities on cave art.

The theory contradicts the idea that adult, tribal shaman spiritual leaders and healers produced virtually all cave art.

It also explains why many of the images drawn in caves during the Pleistocene, between 10,000 and 35,000 years ago, somewhat mirror today’s artwork and graffiti that are produced by adolescent males.

“Today, boys draw the testosterone subjects of a hot automobile, fighter jet, Jedi armour, sports, direct missile hit, etc.— all of the things they associate with the Adrenalin of success,” said R. Dale Guthrie, author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art.

“Female images dominate and are nude, almost every one full-figured above and below,” said Guthrie. “Unlike the other animals, the sculpted, engraved and painted human females and female parts are sometimes done schematically, distilling and inflating the primary and secondary sex characters.”

For some reason, which I still haven’t worked out, I was inspired by this painting. She looked so real; so warm and cuddly. I liked her. She made me think of a book by Sark entitled Succulent Wild Woman.

I wonder how many other people have taken notice of her.

I love that such simple things can make a difference to one’s day as long as we open our eyes to be aware that these things are there.

I couldn’t wait to see the photo Lynsey had taken.

Street art

Update (9 December 2006)
She’s gone. My luscious lady on the side of the road is all grown over with moss and you cannot see any hint of what lies beneath. How many of us hide our true selves in this way?

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