In which our intrepid hero indulges in a bit of artistic vanity.

Mim K/W has been a bit nostalgic of late or, as she puts it, “sooky”. She grew up in Tumut and has been pining for the country. I don’t think I let on, but I still get a bit homesick for Canberra, myself.

This current longing for the place led me to root around in the garage last week, looking for an authentic piece of Canberriana (if there’s such a word), one of my more prized possessions, that I wanted to share with Mim. But more on that later.

I don’t generally like having my photo taken, but I’ll settle for a portrait from time to time. I have four:

This, I called Elf-Portrait and it’s from 1998. I think I did it as a quick sketch for a D&D character. There’s a lot of cool art in the RPG genre, but I think that most of it’s a bit too conservative. This sketch is crude, but it’s also a bit confronting, compared to the usual stuff you see.

My late grandmother used to complain that she didn’t have any pictures of me, so after much argument, I finally relented. (She always was a stubborn old cow—and I mean that with affection.)

I used to work in Haymarket (home to Sydney’s Chinatown) and I have to say I love the place, although not as much since the 2000 Olympics; a lot of the charm has been scoured away, and Dixon St has become the stalking ground for aggressive spruikers.

It’s a bit like Kings Cross, except that here, they pressure you into restaurants. And I’m not sure that the now-constant Falun Dafa presence does much for the ambience, either.

Anyway, I had this pastel portrait done about a week before Christmas in 1999. I’m not even sure if the guy’s there anymore—so many people moved on when the Games hit town.

Back in the days when I still had a static webpage, this self-portrait used to get fanmail. I think it’s my favourite of all the portraits, and I like it so much that I now use it for avatar icons whenever I need one.

It’s called Missing K and I painted it in 2003 for my then-girlfriend Kathryn; she still has it. It was a long distance relationship (1400km or 875 miles) and I only ever saw her every second weekend.

The last is actually a few months older than Missing K.

Canberra’s schooling system is a bit different to most other places in Australia, in that Years 11 and 12 are a separate institution to high school—it’s referred to as “college”. My best friend in college was a guy named Raami, and although I’ve since lost touch, I did keep in contact for a few years.

I visited Canberra in 2003 and was sitting outside with Raami and his girlfriend Clare at King O’Malley’s when a homeless man walked up to us. His name was Daniel McFadden; he was a friend of Clare’s and is better known to locals as “Filthy”.

For a nominal fee, he offered to paint this portrait in ballpoint ink.

I last saw him in 2005 (during this trip) and as far as I know, he’s still wandering around Civic making a living from his art. This guy has run across him, there’s a thread on RiotACT about him and my friend Matt also has a “Filthy” on his wall.

I’ve often said that you’re not really a Canberran unless you drink at a real pub (like the Pot or, well, Filthy’s—forget the the Grail) and unless you have a genuine “Filthy” in your collection.

Unfortunately, by the time I dug mine out of the garage (it’s been there since I moved house, two-and-a-bit years ago), the silverfish had gotten to it. Then again, that might just make it more authentic.