Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top secret

The end of my two-year military conscription stint truly does seem imminent. This last batch of drawings were contained in a "top secret" manilla folder which was probably left lying around at 1 Intelligence Unit, Kimberley, where I spent some 21 months up till June, 1981. I hereby release the contents of this folder in the interests of transparency.

The top left corner of the folder with a "top secret", "streng geheim", "amptelik, official" stamp - and a few lines of shading.

The written words here offer a hint of the sort of top-secret work we were involved in at the base media centre, while the drawings are clearly aimed at devising clever disguises for SADF operatives.

I worked one of the homilies fed to conscripts into a fun bit of abstract design.

Politics was always on my mind and, going by the dates, I completed these just days before I was due to "klaar out" of the army. Top shows the verkrampte Andries Treurnicht and the verligte Pik Botha slugging it out for control of the National Party while prime minister and soon to be president PW Botha looks on. In the bottom one, the figure of "apart-hate" looks on as "Andries Ageruitgang" argues with "Pik-en-betaal", which was a play on the name of a famous supermarket chain.

I slugged this picture, "grub", but it should have been "grubby". It is a look at one of our chefs, the okes who made our grub. And a hallmark of theirs was their grubby, food-bespattered, attire. But how would you like to spend a day peeling potatoes, or any of the other boring chores these guys did? However, they certainly didn't starve.

I think this owes something to an etching by Picasso. Here yours truly seems to be the little lad bottom right, back under the protective wing of his mother, as Life, symbolised by the menacing bull, beckons.

I rather enjoy this odd-looking toothy post box, which seems to emerge out of a tree trunk.

A new dawn beckons. But of course I had no plans. My only ambition was to get out of the army.

To get out of the army and be free as a bird. But obviously that was not to be, because the army itself would soon enough be grabbing me for my first "camp", an awful euphemism for more conscription.

So I guess I felt pretty worm-like. This was a pyrrhic victory. I had spent two years in a wilderness, with the only useful thing done being a myriad drawings.

This was another of those works where I combined a couple of drawings from life (top) with others out of my imagination, or more accurately, subconscious, because I find the less I am consciously thinking about drawing, the more creative I become.

You can't be in the military without military images invading your mind, and drawings. In the end I guess the crazily happy guy at the top must be seen alongside his military alter ego, in this case one wearing a First World War tin hat.

It had to happen. One of those drawings I sometimes did inspired by the random markings left on paper by others perhaps cleaning their brushes, or testing an airbrush, ended up as a bizarre image of copulation.

Too much time spent with pens and pencils leads to ... well a picture incorporating pens and pencils.

This was a bit of fun using preparatory work for a "canteen times" poster.

A river runs through it and, in the distance, mountains await the traveller.

How I arrived at this comic book character I can't say, but here he is.

Andy Warhol created something called the "exploding plastic inevitables", or suchlike, for a Velvet Underground "happening". This floating shape has no detonator.

Somehow this drawing of John Lennon, done from my imagination while in sick bay with shingles when he died in December, 1980, got into that top secret folder. I suspect the CIA, FBI, BBC and Doris Day.

Boys will be ... A couple of sketches of colleagues are shown here alongside a rather scatological look at an elephant. These are shown on a letter in Afrikaans about some or other fundraising social function.

I never fully divined whether 11th Commando actually ceased to exist when 1 Intelligence Unit was born in Kimberley, but this was the coat of arms/letterhead for the former, on which I embellished with a drawing. Strangely, I have no images of the jackal head which was the logo of the Intelligence Unit and which I had to paint on numerous walls.

Another bit of fun combining words and images.

There is a Milligan-like quality to this drawing of two lads at the circus.

Finally, this little image was done on the top right of an A4 piece of card - one of many such doodles that I did which show a freedom of line not often seen in consciously drawn pictures.

No comments:

Post a Comment