Sutton Forest

Sutton Forest, August 2022
Mixed media on plywood panels,
Approximately 45cm x30cm x 2cm
$150 each or $400 for 3

Service centres and shopping malls, transit lounges and transport hubs, waiting rooms and waiting tables (and many other repetitive jobs besides). Traffic jams and traffic lights. Enthralling places and exciting spaces.
Detach, put your head in neutral to avoid monotony, leading to frustration (why are you wasting my time or worse still, why am as I am wasting my own time) even worse, anxiety (is it cancer? will I arrive in time?). Acquire amnesia, confect neutrality.
Observe. Use the opportunity of lack of doing anything other than waiting, to observe. The world around. What do I see? People scrolling on their phone. Resist doing so.
An aside about phone scrolling and a related hate, outsourcing everything to the customer. It really annoys me that entertainment in a waiting room is now outsourced to oneself on one’s phone. The magazine rack is empty. I used to enjoy flicking through a New Idea or Women’s Weekly and reading about what happened to a celebrity 2 years ago. I also loved a half-done crossword puzzle. And reading my horoscope, with hindsight.
But seriously, it annoys me that I must download a parking app, rather than putting money in the machine, or better still paying the parking attendant. Sometimes, I want to speak to someone when I’m making a booking or checking in. They say it’s about convenience to us, the user. I know its about shifting the work (and cost) from them to me, us, so that they can make more money. I’m sounding like an old person so I’ll stop here.
Observe again. The natural world. Look around. See the sky and the trees. How does this carpark at Sutton Forest Service Centre relate to clouds above? Can I salvage something memorable from this moment of nothingness? Get out the phone again, to take a photo. Create meaning where there was none. And so it goes, a subject for a painting.
Alternative scenario subject matter. Don’t read if you are at all sensitive.
Every time I stop at Sutton Forest Service Centre I am reminded of two creepy things which I always, wrongly, conflate. Firstly, the back packer murders that occurred nearby in Belanglo State Forest and I think of occurring at Sutton Forest. Secondly, the Dutch film “The Vanishing” where the girlfriend disappears from a service center and the boyfriend becomes obsessed with finding her until he also ends up buried alive, by her murderer who we see portrayed in the last scene as a family man. Sorry for the spoiler, but you have had since 1988 to watch this movie. Don’t watch this movie, or google the back packer murders.
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