Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 15 - the X issue
Log 15 - the X issue

Chris Chapman


A while back, in the last year of the last millennium, the last artist to present the last show of 1999 at the Experimental Art Foundation asked me to do something. M said "do something about your name", and so I began researching.


I learned some interesting things. I discovered stuff about Saint Christopher, the patron Saint of travel, who was a ‘dog-faced giant’, and who, somehow, carried the infant Christ across a river (Christbearer). I know my family is of English ancestry and my middle name, Brent, means a ‘small hill’. My surname (on my father’s side) is Chapman. It means merchant. My mother’s maiden name is Parry. And I have this idea that this is French. Her mother’s mother’s maiden name is Farlow. When I asked, I learned of a certain dalliance with a French man in the Pacific. My grandfather was called ‘Poomah’ because as a child I couldn’t say ‘grand-pa’. And being the eldest of five boy brothers and cousins, it stuck.

Before Poomah died (his name was George Norman Parry), I remember sitting onthe armrest between the front seats of his car (in my mind it was red with black stripes). I know for sure it had a cartridge cassette player.

Poomah used to hang out in the garage at his and Nan’s house. He had jars of nails and screws which were ingeniously fixed underneath the shelves in his workshop. You get a jam jar (or whatever) and nail the lid to the underside of the shelf then you can screw the jar into it and there it is.

When I was little, me and my brother Simon and our three cousins would make a ‘haunted house’ in the garage at Nan & Poom’s place. The grownups would be drinking and carrying on and us boys would devise sneaky tricks. When it was ready, each adult had to enter. They would come down the steps from the kitchen into the garage (with an appropriately spooky drawing sticky-taped to the sliding door). Dumb stuff like a broom on a rope would swing out, or my cousin Shawn would appear from behind a cupboard wearing a mask or something.

The only time anything bad happened was when me and my cousin Andrew were racing around with the youngest of all us boys - Eden - who was crouching on a trolley thing, and the slope of the concrete drive into the garage added too much velocity to the vehicle and it crashed into Nan’s white Mazda. Ede was fine.

Oh yeah, one other time. For some reason we were dressed up, and the grownups were doing whatever. We were amusing ourselves in the garage by blowing up balloons and spray-painting them. A balloon burst spraying wet paint all over our ‘best’ clothes, but worse, into the grille of Nan’s Mazda. Maybe it was even a 626.

Anyhow. At D’s suggestion I ended up making a video piece to accompany his show. Interestingly, while Mal One was here he shot some footage of me in the kitchen at about 6am. I was wearing a gray singlet and army-green shorts. My hairstyle of choice all that summer was a buzzcut and I had saved heaps on haircuts by buying my own clippers.

The video, in the end, was kind of minimal. Twelve minutes of a closeup of the flourescent tube light in the kitchen. Then a short piece which I taped from my own tv screen, black electrical tape stuck over it making an X, over slowed-down footage of me giving myself a #1 buzzer.

Chris Chapman is>>>>


Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room