Prairies, Postcards, Islands, Fantasies.

Image: Paddy’s Green Bananas, an example of a prairie landscape.


In the Cartonography collection I consider each carton to be a conveyor of not only produce but potentially some other meaning, truth or idea. This may be a little wishful. It is only packaging after all; mass produced, delivered, used (once in most cases), transported again, and again, and then recycled to make other cartons. The life-cycle and journeys of a fruit carton is a fascinating thing and will one day be the centre of some of my research, but for now my concerns are focused on the designs that adorn these transient devices, and whether they can tell us something. Each carton has a design. Some are complex, some are humorous, some are garish and others are quite boring. Cartonography does not discriminate in collecting. It is a process that is interested in all fruit cartons and the possibility of each to contribute to a possible understanding of the landscape we are all part of in someway. Continue reading “Prairies, Postcards, Islands, Fantasies.”

Farmers and their cartons in FNQ.

It only really occurred to me late on the second day of the FNQ trip to get photographs of each of the farmers holding their fruit cartons, but I’m glad I got the ones I did. Thanks very much to all the folks who gave their precious time to a strange blow-in who collects lids. Thank you all for your good humour and generous hospitality, and I hope to visit you again soon (next time with a video camera).
DSC_0641 copyNoel Stevenson with a stack of his SUPER BANANAS. I arrived just as the truck pulled in to collect his load. I also like the colour of Stevo’s forklift.

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FNQ Day 3 – Up to the tablelands.

DSC_0768 Day 3 of the trip was a little more relax-a-tron than previous days. Claire was arriving from Sydney and we were checking into our hotel room at after midday in Cairns meaning that our day on the road would be a lot shorter. I packed up my things in the Moondarra Motel and bade farewell to Jim, the softly spoken but friendly motel proprietor. As I left I realised that there was a family (or some collection of humans) that had been sitting outside their motel room for the entirety of my stay. Unlike the other guests at the motel they had a table to sit at while the congregation grew and shrunk. I was curious to know: had they taken their holidays at the Moondarra? I like motels but the thought of hanging out in one for longer than is absolutely necessary is, quite frankly, an odd thought. Continue reading “FNQ Day 3 – Up to the tablelands.”

FNQ Day 2 – The Banana Farmer

It was another glorious day in FNQ. The temperature was perfect and the humidity virtually zero. I rose a little later than I’d planned and went for breakfast across the road at this lovely little restaurant with a Scottish name, which happened to also have a drive thru.  As I munched on my hash brown and English muffin I got the strange feeling I’d been here before.

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Far North Queensland (FNQ) – Day 1.

Nice image 3

Arriving in Cairns the first thing I noticed was the hills, which kind of look like small mountains all around the region. They are quite dramatic and their shape adds to the sense that you are in a  tropical location. The kind of not-quite-mountains that you might see in a brochure for some beautiful South-East Asian location; a photo that includes the front of the boat you would be travelling on emerging from the lower part of the frame.

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Behold! The Cartonographic!

The Cartonographic is a limited edition print currently in production (a developmental line drawing is shown in the image below) created out of writings on the Cartonography collection on this blog. The print will be manufactured on cardboard using the same methods used to make fruit cartons – it will essentially be a fruit carton in its own right – and will be the centrepiece of the Cartonography Exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion on the 22nd of October 2014. Funds raised from the sale of the Cartonographic will be used to expand the Cartonography collection to document the stories of farmers and agricultural communities across Australia.


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Emblematica – The fruit box as coat of arms.


When I was six my family moved from Ireland to Australia. Considering I have only patchy memories of being 6, this day is remarkably strong in my memory. There are many parts of the journey that I can remember clearly: the car trip to the airport in Dublin; the ground disappearing rapidly beneath us as we took off over the Irish Sea; flying across never-ending sandy ridges in the middle east; asking Dad when we stepped onto the tarmac in Saudi Arabia if the plane engine was the source of the intense heat. It wasn’t, he told me, it was just damn hot. I remember stopping in Singapore and shopping for a Commodore 64, and I remember the excitement of approaching Sydney as the sun rose through the tiny windows on the plane. What I really remember though, or at least what is stronger as an image in my mind’s eye than any other, is when we were waiting for a connecting flight to Armidale in a small, quiet terminal at Sydney Airport. I remember it because as we waited I stood near a floor-to-ceiling glass façade looking out over the broad expanse of the runways and there was this enormous blue sky with barely a cloud in it. It was a sky I’d never seen before, and the light from the sun gave everything a sensational clarity.


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Holy Fruit! Fruit boxes and solar imagery


In the Sacred Heart image in Christian iconography Jesus opens his cloak to reveal his heart, which is floating outside his chest. It has a crown of thorns and a crucifix on top with some little flames licking about the cross. It is not the weirdness of disembodied hovering heart that constitutes my interest in this common religious image though, but the rays of light that are coming from behind it.


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Sexy Fruit – The Fruit Box and the Female Form


There are a few factors that distinguish Australian fruit boxes from their international counterparts. I am yet to do a comprehensive comparative study but I have noted in my travels, for example, that there is a dearth of fruity characters and general humour in American or European boxes; factors that seem to be common on boxes from down under. Of course, there are many Australian boxes that take the more sedate route in design, but on the whole it is those that have peculiarities that tend to stand out as representatives of their tradition.

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