Empty Drinking Trough with Coke Can c. 1976–83

McHUTCHISON, John

Registration number

1741744

Artist/maker

McHUTCHISON, John

Title

Empty Drinking Trough with Coke Can

Production date

c. 1976–83

Medium

photographic paper

Dimensions (H x W x D)

23.5 x 30.4 cm

Credit line

Donated by John McHutchison, 2008
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection

Keywords

John McHutchison, drinking trough, Queen Street, Lonsdale Street, c.1976–83

Summary

In 2008, painter and photographer John McHutchison generously donated a collection of his photographic works to the City of Melbourne. These mainly black-and-white photographs were taken between 1976 and 1983 and largely document our city’s streets and public scenes during that period. Here a crumpled Coke can sits in an empty drinking trough on the corner of Queen and Lonsdale Streets.

While at first glance the photographs appear candid windows onto public tableaux, they soon reveal more complex narratives, with the compositions drawing out an often-playful, always-compelling dynamic between the subject and setting. If you look through these photographs, you will observe that while many turn on an amusing visual play, it is a restless humour that underwrites them, both whimsical and macabre. For example, ‘Wall Sign, E. Dark & Co. Mossberg for Accuracy’ shows the two rifles on the wall sign trained deadly accurate on windows of the adjoining office building, its occupants presumably blissfully unaware. Yet ‘Men at Hoarding Windows’, where passing gents nonchalantly view the building works behind, is nothing if not reminiscent of a public pissoir or a peep show. The prosaic, purely descriptive titles give little away; these photographs rely on visual language to deliver their punchline.