Artist Peter Lankas features in Rockin’ the Suburbs at Gallery 139 in Hamilton

The question of why this strange-looking Aussie bloke has a lawnmower sticking out of his head is an interesting one.

It definitely captured our attention.

It’s one of the works of Newcastle artist Peter Lankas to feature in a new exhibition titled Rockin’ The Suburbs, which opens on Friday at Gallery 139 in Hamilton.

“I started doing a series of people with things on their heads – planes or houses or cars [or lawnmowers],” Peter said.

Peter told Topics that the man in the painting intentionally has a slight foreign look.

“I’m from the Czech Republic, so I was called a wog through my early years,” he said.

“I started seeing that there’s a wog in all of us. Most of us have a history that’s from the outside.”

This is why Peter finds fear about immigrants to be ridiculous.

“We’re not all Anglo-Saxon, blond and blue-eyed,” he said.

And what about the lawnmower?

“Usually on the weekend in the ‘burbs, suddenly the lawnmowers go off and everyone’s mowing their lawn,” he said.

“It’s this love and hate thing. You don’t want to do it, but it feels really good when you’ve done it.”

Off Your Trolley

A Lankas painting of a couple having fun with a shopping trolley at Charlestown.

A Lankas painting of a couple having fun with a shopping trolley at Charlestown.

Another Lankas painting that captured the wry eye of Topics was a couple skylarking in a shopping trolley at the Caltex on the highway at Charlestown.

“You know how teenagers muck around – they’re out late at night at two in the morning, running through the streets with a shopping trolley.

“It’s about your first love and she’s in the trolley and having fun.”

Peter has a penchant for painting service stations.

“Service stations are like lit-up beacons in the night, saying ‘come in, come in’. You drive past and there’s a beauty in the lighting and brightness.

“The irony is that you walk in there and it’s full of junk food, coke and petrol. It looks so good, but there’s nothing good there.”

Adamstown Bloke

A Lankas painting of a bloke crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

A Lankas painting of a bloke crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

Another Lankas painting we thought we’d share features a bloke dressed in a black shirt and jeans, crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

Peter said he has a bag filled with “two-minute noodles, ciggies or a drink – whatever he’s into”.

Peter is interested in capturing “ordinary things that we see and do everyday and people take for granted or miss”.

“I try and document that there’s beauty everywhere in the most mundane, ordinary elements that happen in everyday life.”

Newcastle, he says, has “a lovely, slow beauty to it”.

“There’s a lot of colour in some of the houses that were painted by the guys working in the steelworks. They used to take home leftover paint, which had bright colours. They used to paint their houses with it,” he said.

Turn it On and Off

Topics has often heard the advice from IT experts to “turn it off and on again” when there’s a problem with our computer.

But we’d never heard this one before.

Our Foxtel box was on the blink. We rang Foxtel and spoke to someone overseas, who advised us to “turn the HDMI cable around”.

That is, unplug the cable from the TV and Foxtel box, turn the cable around and plug each end into the opposing slot from which it came.

“That doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical,” we said, all conceited, to our foreign friend.

Lo and behold, it worked.

  • topics@theherald.com.au