Sunday, 23 May 2010

A Picture Inspired by a Panda

People often enquire what inspired me to take certain of my photographs. Very often the answer I give is, it’s usually another photograph I’ve seen, or something I’ve read; rarely do I photograph something that I just see, or come across.
As a (very young) child my favorite toy was a police panda car – a powder-blue-and-white mini - I can see it now. Much later - when was in my late teens - Flann O’Brien’s novel, ‘The Third Policeman’ - a book peopled (policed?) by policeman who are convinced that atoms can shift between objects, leading in extreme cases to cyclists actually becoming ‘part bicycle’ - had a profound affect.
But I would in all probability have never read the book if I hadn’t taken this photograph (a rare image of a real event - I was lost, following a formal route, when in truth all roads lead to content); and I only took the picture to fulfill, or defy – I can’t remember which - a written project brief, on the interpretation of ‘Disruptive Pattern’. 
Looking at it now, I still can’t work out if it fails or succeeds; all I know for sure, is we had no mudguards. I exhibited the photograph at 'The Photographers' Gallery, London, and some insightful soul left a comment in the visitor’s book: “Lucas’s cyclists would be at home on the cover of ‘The Third Policeman’”. Flan O’Brien was Irish and his novel was set in the Irish midlands – a landscape of bog - and the Irish police are called the Garda. One way of understanding The Third Policeman's 'part-bicycleness' is to visualise him as a mudguard (in stark contrast to the English police, often verbalised as ‘filth’).
But it was early exposure to filth like this panda that inspired (if that’s the right word) me to photograph a horseless horse rider: to become, as O'Brien's mentor, Joyce, would say, ' a rear-regarder'. And I thought the sight of a panda mating (let alone masturbating or clown-dating) in captivity, was a sight more rare than rocking horse shit?
Part horse, part panda?

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