Consider the Ibis

Eddie Sharp

In Ancient Egypt Ibises were considered gods, emblazoned on the walls of tombs. The modern Australian Ibis, although loved by tourists, is widely vilified and mocked by locals with cruel names like ‘Bin Chicken’, ‘Flying Rat’ or ‘Tip Turkey’. Scientists claim that during the 1980s urbanisation drove the once noble Australian White Ibis away from its natural habitat of interior wetlands to coastal and city areas where it adapted and thrived on what we throw away.

Hello, my name is Ken. I am one of Australia’s best and most famous artists. My lawyers and wife have urged me not to disclose my full name as what I am about to tell you is so shocking that it’s borderline libellous. They have further urged me to say that my name is not actually Ken and that this is a work of fiction and parody. If you approach me in person to discuss this I will strongly deny it.

Frank Hodgkinson
Strawnecked Ibis   1986
Ink on paper, 79 x 98 cm
Artbank collection, purchased 1988

"If you approach me in person to discuss this I will strongly deny it"

But my name is Ken. And this story is the whole truth. I have so much truth roiling up inside of me and you better grab an umbrella because it’s about to burst out of the truth reservoir of my mind like a rushing river of truth juice and soak you all in a mighty torrent of its trueness. Please forgive my writing, dear reader, I was never much of a word man.

My main stock in trade has always been beautiful images. I create gorgeous vibrant paintings of Australian things like koalas, Sydney Harbour or the sun but he’s smiling and wearing a cool pair of sunnies. I also produce prints, tea towels, calendars, T-shirts, pillowcases and all sorts of other official merchandise that can be bought at my combination studio slash gift shop in Sydney, for competitive prices.

Every morning I sit at my easel and look across the harbour to see the love of my life looking back at me like a gorgeous jagged pearl and then I begin to paint her. The first time we met was 1973 at her grand unveiling. I was thirty three years old at the time, still working in advertising. I never realised how incomplete I was until that moment. Before that day I had never thought to put paint to canvas. I had barely even doodled on a napkin.

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