If you can love the Australian Prime Ministers, then you can love anyone. -Martin Wilson

Martin Wilson usually paints, but was inspired to do a hooked rug series of Australian PMs for the Federation when he saw a young girl lovingly reciting the names of the U.S. Presidents on television. Most Australians have a lack of interest in their own history, and Wilson's desire to address this was the cornerstone for his rug project.

For materials, Wilson chose wool to reflect its important role in Australia's economy, and created vibrant, mostly kooky backgrounds (Francis Michael Forde has a floating pineapple on each side of his head). Some have extra tufts for eyebrows or a mustache. They're all laugh-out-loud hilarious - yet obviously made with affection, and impressive skill. These are bona fide portraits, to be sure.

There were several people there, but I was the only one laughing. The others looked borderline grim, as though these warm and cuddly PMs were like any other exhibition. Their expression probably didn't change when they looked at the no-nonsense Berlin architecture thing on the next floor.

From the catalogue:

It is not just a shame that many Australians do not know that Edmund Barton was their first Prime Minister; or that Francis Forde served as Prime Minister for the grand total of one week; or even that Gouth Whitlam's first name is actually Edward. But Australians are also missing out on great stories featuring such colourful characters as Tosspot Toby, Affable Alfred, Pig-iron Bob, Black Jack and The Rat.

bio of artist

Wilson is a Newcastle-based visual artist born in 1974. He studied Fine Arts at the Hunter Institute of Technology in Newcastle and the National Art School in Sydney. He was a founding member of Newcastle Emerging Artists Inc. and is co-curator of RocketArt, a non-profit contemporary art space. And damn if he doesn't look like Beck.

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