On a cold and wet Thursday night in Melbourne a large crowd of people quickly fills No Vacancy gallery at the QV. It is the opening of Ghostpatrol’s first solo exhibition in Melbourne “warp points and seed vault save points”. Amongst the crowd of people there are many men with beards, one of them, a young man with a beard, neck length hair and hooded jacket is Ghostpatrol.
Ghostpatrol first came to the public’s attention on Melbourne’s streets. His particular aesthetic and illustration style making him stand out from the rest of Melbourne’s street art scene. Ghostpatrol’s illustration style meant that he also rode the wave of illustrations that rolled into Melbourne’s galleries in recent years. His coloured ink drawings of children in animal costumes are not realistic; they have the style of children’s book illustrations. His figures are engaging because they are engaged in mysterious activities.
Ghostpatrol’s particular aesthetic of childhood imagination, like the book “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. It is the aesthetic of the tree house, cubby houses, reading books by electric torch light in a tent made of blankets. It is full of the magic and make-believe of childhood exploration. Ghostpatrol’s style and aesthetic translates well into a variety of media from drawings, paste-ups, street art, textiles, video, paper cuts and installations. It is an escapist aesthetic that is retreating into childhood games, even the exhibition title, “Warp points and seed vault save points”, sounds like a video game.
In the gallery Ghostpatrol has made a large tent. Inside the tent there is a pile of cushions, made of fabric printed with his figures, on a rug before a triangular, like a psychedelic altarpiece of framed drawings, paper cuts, a video and objet trouvés. It is like many bedrooms in shared houses that I’ve known. There is a wall painting and a few other works outside the tent; Ghostpatrol told me that he set the exhibition up early last week and spent part of this week sewing and drawing in the warp point tent. The found objects, like a brass paper knife with a monkey handle set on a triangle of wood, pinecones and plants growing in a book. These objects are not for sale, except for “Two approaching”, the bundle of sticks with two tiny figures painted in the cut surfaces of two of the sticks. As in other exhibitions Ghostpatrol is creating the exhibition as an installation to leave the exhibition visitor with an experience. It seemed like the gallery was only a third full of works by Ghostpatrol, including the objet trouvés (found objects), like a contemporary scatter style exhibition. It leaves me wanting more.
I asked Ghostpatrol why he hadn’t had a solo show before? Ghostpatrol replied that he’d actually had his first solo show in Adelaide earlier this year, but that the real reason was that he enjoyed the experience of collaborating in group exhibitions too much because working with other people improves his techniques. I also asked Ghostpatrol about translating his work into textiles. He told me that he had fun doing the textiles and breaking away from his usual techniques. (See Invurt for a longer recent interview with Ghostpatrol.)