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Peter Robertson: Sharpies

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


28 Nov 2001 to 03 Mar 2002

Curator: Russell Storer

About the exhibition

Sharpies was an exhibition of photographs from the albums of Melbourne based artist Peter Robertson and his friends. These photographs documented the years from 1974 to 1978 presenting a visual record of a period in which this group of friends dressed sharp and acted tough as an antidote to the boredom of suburban boredom. Produced as large, framed photographs these images were strange, humorous and sexy; a compelling document of Australian youth culture.

The Sharpies were a male-dominated youth culture which arose in Melbourne and to a lesser extent Sydney and Brisbane. Robertson said that the Sharpies were a result of the 'unbearably boring’ cultural life of suburban Melbourne in the seventies which 'revolved around football, pubs and cars.’

Sharpies’ emphasis on image, which included displays of hostility and sometimes violence towards other groups, enabled a sense of resistance toward authority, individual agency and escape from what many saw as limited options. For Robertson, becoming an artist was an extension of a decision at a young age to break away from the suburbs and what they represented. In this sense, Sharpies chronicled a formative time when certain life choices were made, identities were experimented with, and friendships either continued or fell away.

Tour itinerary

Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, Vic: 8 March – 28 March 2002
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Qld: 30 November 2002 – 25 January 2003
Blacktown Arts Centre, Sydney, NSW: 6 June – 5 July 2003
Albury Regional Art Gallery, Vic: 29 August – 28 September 2003