away in a drafty and dusty shed inhabited by rats, possums and the odd red-bellied black snake, Mark Thompson has been working in super-realist detail. He enters another world as he assembles images and thoughts with a designer’s eye. The masses of reference material, photographs and stocks of things which have caught his imagination are all cross-pollinated into works for A Solitary Vice in the BMG Adelaide Festival joint show with Stephen Bowers.
The show’s primary piece, Evening Shadows: Albert, Rubina and Alice Liddell at Port Pirie, right, pulls together Albert Namatjira’s family from two photographs by the late Axel Poignant. The stacks of the Port Augusta power station form the background because this is the view that greeted Thompson when he came down from Darwin on regular childhood visits to his grandparents at Largs. “It’s a memory painting,” says the working class boy who doesn’t like to be called an artist, saying that’s a title you get “when you’re long and truly gone”.
To one side is a man holding a whip and sitting on a rather oppressed-looking horse – the first horse Thompson has ever painted. The man looks like Henry Ayers but Thompson says he is just a “figure of white authority”. In front of him stands a man in green. A stationmaster? “He is a man in green because the painting needed a figure and colour there,” he says. “I put him there with my designer hat on. Same with the palm trees. I stood back and looked at the painting and knew it needed something