Co-incidence or Prophecy? And a Mystery.
By Bob Rafto
A chapter in the book Divine Inspirations Vol 1. – The Art of Bob Rafto
It was in late 2005 that I started playing around in a borrowed copy of Photoshop for no particular reason other than being bored.
Once I started mastering the tools over the months, semblances of art started to appear and the pic (left) which is a screenshot on my Flickr page, may as well came out of thin air.
The pic was created in August 2006, 3 months before my architect lodged plans for a development approval with Council. When this character emerged on my screen, my immediate thought was ‘this was the little guy’ and one who would always stand up for himself.
I was describing myself as I always stood up for myself throughout my journey in life. I posted this pic on completion to Flickr with the title ‘High Noon at the OK Corral’. In hindsight a more appropriate title would have been ‘High Noon at City Hall’.
It was about 2 years later in 2008 in the middle of my war with the establishment that I was reviewing my art and by that stage I had over 1,000 pieces on Flickr and this little character was completely forgotten and when I came to the pic, I discovered that a comment was posted and is shown in the screenshot.
The commentator’s name was tcejeR liacoS and it didn’t take me long to work out that this person’s name in reverse was Social Reject and his comment was: ‘title: Chief Castrator of the Crown’.
Was this pic a prophecy that I would be at war with the establishment? What is one to make of the title ‘Chief Castrator of the Crown’? Speculation abounds and is the term a metaphor? Or is it to be taken literally? If it is, it would be a bit hard to castrate female politicians even though some have been described as having balls.
I had never heard of the term ‘Chief Castrator of the Crown’ and I looked on the net for its origins and there’s nothing to be found. I couldn’t contact the commentator as he was deleted and this didn’t surprise me with the name of Social Reject.
And herein is the mystery of how this term came about and what relevance it has to do with my little character.
The next pic (left) I created was a depiction of someone being sent insane and was posted on Flickr two days after I created ‘my little guy’ and can be seen in a thumbnail in the screenshot above.
Little did I know then that this pic was also a self-portrait, 6 months later Council ensured it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On February 17, 2007, 6 months prior to getting the development approval with the written extortion demands included from Council, I posted my pic ‘Down the Gurgler’ to Flickr.
I was on a roll. I was predicting and illustrating my downfall and by the end of 2009, my whole world went down the gurgler, the house was sold and what was left was taken by my wife who also divorced me at about the same time and I found myself renting a room in a share house.
The share house was quite nice and located opposite a park with a creek running through it. I would go to the park in the mornings and afternoons to feed the ducks, water dragons and turtles and on one morning I experienced a fascinating visual experience.
While I was on the bank of the creek throwing small pieces of bread to mum and dad duck and their 2 ducklings a humongous eel a metre long and as thick as a man’s forearm came up, snatched one of the ducklings and pulled it under the water.
What happened next and it only lasted about 30 seconds or so was simply amazing, I think it was the mum duck as you can’t tell the Pacific Black duck apart, started to flap her wings furiously and at the same time was wading in super quick time in circles over the eel.
This action caused a whirlpool in the water which obviously put pressure on the eel to release the duckling and the duckling rose to the surface completely drenched and mum took it to the bank where it spent the next 3 days recovering.
This happened in August 2012 and thinking that this might be a unique observation I emailed my story to Australia Zoo who in turn informed me that they published the story in their magazine.
When I related my story to Australia Zoo, I had completely forgotten that in the previous year, November 2011, I posted my pic titled Whirlpool, to Flickr.
I am a sceptic on just about everything but something is going on here with my creations as abstract ducks are coming out of the whirlpool. Totally inexplicable that I could predict such an event, but maybe, just maybe, as a far out guess to be laughed at, I was channelled by the ducks.
It wasn’t till about after 3 months living in the share house that I discovered the name of the creek, and you can’t make this up, the name was Downfall Creek.
If it wasn’t bad enough losing over $2M, the wife, the kids and the house, fate should have it that I should reside opposite Downfall Creek as confirmation of my losses.
I spent 18 months living opposite Downfall Creek. This was the period that I was engaged in 4 courts that resulted in a knockout for the establishment and funnily enough I created the following pic in February 2007, 5 years earlier.
As a self-represented litigant, the paperwork, research, learning court procedures, printing and binding documents as well as having documents on DVD, the task was mammoth and a brain daze.
The courts ordeal came to an end in September 2012 there was no reason to hang around Brisbane any longer, after 5 years I ran out of giving the establishment my ‘best shots’, it was time to retreat to sanity and to regroup the brain cells for a final assault on the establishment with the book that you are now reading. My final assault might come to nought, but the Acknowledgment page is my ultimate back-hander of naming and shaming Premier Newman and others.
My idea of sanity was to move to the Sunshine Coast, a one and a half hour drive north of Brisbane, a reasonably sedate place where only a few places along the coastline have high rise development, and was one of my favoured places for surfing in my teen years and my old surfing buddies all resided there.
As fate would have it, my friend Roy had a vacancy at his Red House situated in the hinterland on top of a mountain range at Cooloolabin backing onto a National Park and about a 25 minute drive to the surf.
I didn’t hesitate in accepting the rental as I would be living in the country in a nice house with every room having a view of the forest and the valley below and above all one felt a sense of peace and serenity which I really needed to get over a marathon nightmare.
December 2012 is the date I moved into the Red House, which is a misnomer as the colour is claret red and as I settled in and started to write, I recalled a hazy scene from an old movie about a writer living in a cool house in the country seated at a desk tapping away on his typewriter and of course there was a cigarette dangling from his lips, next to the typewriter was a packet of cigarettes, an overflowing ashtray and a opened bottle of scotch and a half empty glass and on the floor were scrunched up writing attempts and nearby there would always be a blonde or brunette.
It dawned on me that I was living a celluloid dream sans booze and babe.
One of my earliest pics I created was the pic on the far left and posted to Flickr on January 2006, originally titled Nomad. The second pic was created for this story.
The stories on Chief Castrator of the Crown, Insane, Knocked Out Senseless and Down the Gurgler could be put down as co-incidence, but does the Whirlpool story, inexplicable as it is and a story that can’t be made up is confirmation that I’ve been predicting my future through my art?
What if the Nomad pic is also a self-portrait?
What if my art journey was pre-ordained, of going through 5 years of Hell with the establishment and ending up on a Mountain top to write my story?
When I started writing I had no idea of the format or the presentation and who would print and publish the book.
As it turned out after months of stops and starts, an A3 leather bound volume materialized not unlike a Tablet.
As gravity states, what goes up must come down and it is inevitable when the time is right that I will descend this Mount with my tablet to spread my Gospel.
What if this story is not about me?
Perhaps, I could be a messenger for the digital painting genre, a genre so new that it is not yet considered mainstream.
Like the Impressionists, a hundred years ago, who gained currency with their new genre of art, digital painting will evolve with the digital century and perhaps this is the message for astute collectors of art and art books.
Imagination is a wonderful thing!
Divine Inspirations Vol. 1 – The Art of Bob Rafto is an A3+ Leather bound limited edition of 100 books of which only 5 books have been published to date and are not for sale. Apart from the text there are 20 full page plates all signed and numbered as well as the case.
The A3+ leather 2 hand wanky job, conceived, designed, printed and assembled by Bob Rafto.
Another 4 volumes are planned being a 3-5 year project and maybe just maybe the whole 5 set volume maybe offered for sale if I’m still alive.
I wrote a comment a while ago in an article by John Lord that to get represented in a major gallery, one needs to have your hands welded on ‘it’ to get into the inner sanctums of the galleries.
Now I’m able to say that I’m represented in the Louvre, The Tate, MoMA, Saatchi Gallery, and the National Gallery of Australia. As well as the Queensland State Library and the National Library.
I produced A4 facsimiles of the A3 book and gifted them to the libraries of the above galleries with the message that it should be viewed as a future historical document on the fledging genre of digital painting and the good folks at the galleries accepted my gift.
If one can’t get in the front door, try the back one, it might be unlocked as is the case here.
If one is inclined my pics can be viewed here www.flickr.com/bobrafto
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