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driller Jet Armstrong

VISUAL ART/A cultural commentary by controversial daubist, driller Jet Armstrong

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The road less travelled.

I want everyone to read The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck and I want homeowners to get down and boogie. Rush out and rip up your lawns. Replace them with camomile. Adelaide should become the camomile capital of the world. Imagine the aroma. Tourists will come from everywhere to smell Adelaide. Visualise the Adelaide parklands as a sea of miniature, daisy-like flowers. Camomile is therapeutic when walked upon in bare feet. Think of the postcards with the byline "Go barefoot in the Adelaide parklands ... it's very therapeutic". What an export market. Camomile shampoo ... great for those blonde highlights (Babes) and camomile tea, mmm. Less mowing, plus virtually all other plant species grow better when camomile is growing nearby.

Take clover, for instance, please take clover ... take mine. My camomile lawn is chockers with the stuff and it's a nightmare creeping. The problem has become much worse since I stopped watering to save on my excess water bill and what with the drought and everything ... you know.

To escape the misery of the weeds I sip long macchiato in Rundle St and have done so for long enough. I've participated in covert anti-development agitating in the late 1980s and escaped the police dragnet in a white Volvo. "WE" were the Sinn Fein arm of the anti-development lobby.

Then came "The Recession" and with it a hole-in-the-ground, cheap, user- friendly car park which we all knew was merely a temporary reprieve. Now we have "The Recovery". Is this "The recovery we had to have"? What happened. Did someone lose the plot? Remember the plot? I think it went something like ... Rundle St development in a way which enhances the existing unique character and bohemian nature of the street.

It is currently progressing (regressing?) with a this-goes-with-that mentality. For example ... Arthur Fonzarelli hamburger joints and Harleys and basketball courts where wall climbers hang like flies from our murals ... pass the Mortein. Maybe it's the drought and this is all a mirage.

I was standing in the middle of Rundle St the other day and for a brief second the Exeter Hotel appeared as an apparition of the Alamo. (Remember The Alamo?) This seemed quite ironic at the time as it will inevitably be the venue for The Last Stand.

Barrie Kosky (bless him) has lured the Royal (hiss, boo) Australian Institute of Architects bi-ennial convention from Brisbane and inserted it into the Vis/Arts program for the forthcoming Adelaide Festival. (Lucky for the Architects because Brisbane architecture is a contradiction in terms and worse than our own). Blessed Barrie wants to marry artists and architects. About time! This man is a visionary. Rundle St needs vision. It needs Mr and Mrs Artytecture. It needs Art. Lots and lots of Art.

Rundle St should become the nexus, plexus, vortex and apex of art in Adelaide. The cafes in this Cappuccino Canyon should be filled to over-flowing with art. Why does Japan have a Hossein Valamanesh installation on one of its cultural boulevards and not in Rundle St? All we have is Hossein Valamanesh himself in the street but he comes and goes as he pleases.

Hydra Cafe sets an exciting example as does Miss Gladys Sym Choon, the Exeter Hotel and East & Fifth. Rundle St needs Fringe Headquarters to be based in Rundle St in the old Charlicks Mad Love building. South Australia could enjoy an arts-led recovery. The Grand Prix belongs in Melbourne along with garlic mettwurst. Victoria can fill its vacuum with sport and we will take art and technology for 100 please sir ... and it's a Jeopardy special!.

The State Government needs to commit more resources to visual artists. If all the big kahuna burgers in the "Art for Public Places" fund were spent on projects in Rundle St for 12 months, visitors and locals alike would think we truly are the Festival State, and we would be seen to be actively supporting our arts community.

How many more toy-town apartments will be built and views from the cutesie- pie Romeo and Juliet balconies looking out over a cultural drought? Where are the New York style studio apartments? Where are the studios? How is the current scenario going to keep artists here, let alone lure them here? What are we doing to stop the biggest brain drain to the east since the expressionists fled to the West?

Here's to a user-friendly artistic community with a focus in Rundle St. Cheerfully exploiting the virtues of affordability and convenience that the Adelaide lifestyle offers.

"So youre the camelthat's been pushing all the animals over the the edge of this escarpment."

"A picture of the man who was given the gift of wings. . . He got a job washing the windows of sky-scrapers."

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