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Robert Moore

Robert Moore

Robert Moore appears to be a ridgy-didge, top-fuel, durry smoking bloke…and he is. But his art is something else. Photo by Tom Dawkins.

Bob – do you mind if we call you Bob?

Sure, Bob is good… Beelzebub is better… I will accept Mister Bob in formal occasions… much prefer the ‘Prince of the Infernal Darkness’ or ‘Lord of the Dance’.

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Right you are. You strike us as a very hands-on artist…

Yes, that’s what I do, I make stuff with my hands …

…and you strike us as a genuinely good person who is approaching serious work from an irreverent corner of the world. You’re not precious about art, are you? But you are clearly very good.

Well that is a fine compliment. I try my best and sometimes I do get it right.

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Tell us about where are you from and how you grew up?

Okay, good question – I was born in the epicentre of “boganism” [Australian for rough and ready types who drive the sorts of cars that attract attention from the police], west of Brisbane. Son of a preacher man – loved the lord but put one foot into the darkness. I love V8s generally with a four-barrel Rotchester pouring fuel down its guts. Spent far too much of my youth building and drag racing Holden 308s (with not much success). Chasing girls (with not much success). Had some tragic haircuts in the ’80s. Played in some really bad bands with total suck names such as Perfect Secret – that was truly embarrassing.

Why am I telling you this?

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When did you decide you were an artist?

The burning bush that I encountered on my 40 days and 40 nights in the desert told me quite emphatically to “go forth and paint the colour blue”

Plus… my career as a wedding singer had taken a huge downturn in an incident known by the investigating officers as “the ‘89 Frankston wedding riots”.

The father of the bride didn’t appreciate my version of Hurts So Good that I sang to the mother of the bride between the maid of honour’s speech and the cutting of the cake.

He took to me with a partly-lit candelabra and smashed my Gibson Flying V over the wedding presents table as I pushed him into the six-tiered tiramisu wedding cake.

The ensuing riot, which resulted in the burning of the wedding marquee and things done with chairs that will never be spoken of again, had a huge impact on Tony and Sharon’s special day.

Please don’t ask me anymore about that – it is a dark chapter. I really don’t like talking about it . . .

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OK. What’s the strangest commission you’ve ever had?

For real – I was asked to celebrate the Royal Australian Air Force’s 75th anniversary by making some pictures – they let me loose amongst the F1-11s in an Australian high security defence facility for two months.
I was so tempted to tag [graffito] one of those planes!

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You seem to work in many media. We’ve seen your work on surfboards, on tables, in shops…

Yep, I do. I like to call it ‘right tool for the job’.

Shit, that’s a great motif for a tee shirt … hang on I already used that one for Mambo …

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Who collects your work, and what kind of following do you have?

People who are very good looking with exceptional taste and anybody who really wants to give me money to keep me in the lifestyle I have become accustomed to.

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Your studio reminds us of an old print workshop…

Thanks – old print workshops are cool. Yeah, there’s a lot going on in that space.

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…and we get the impression you would have no trouble knocking up a table for us, or fixing a car.

Not to sure about the tables … always have me some trouble making the legs all the same length. But as for cars – give me a quarter-inch imperial spanner and some fencing wire and I can make anything run.

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You’re moving into landscapes too, which is surprising to us, given that much of your work has a more ‘pop art’ kind of feel…

Not surprising to me, as I have always been a landscape painter. It’s just that most of my more graphic stuff is commercially reproduced, so that’s what most people see.

I’m having a show of landscapes at the Deus Gallery in October.

I will send you an invite . . . please come as I need all the friends I can get.

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You were one of the early Mambo crew – tell us about that.

Mambo-Shmambo … it was good in its day but then it went horribly wrong. I was there from the start to the end. I was a significant contributor to its rise and its downfall.

What process is currently fascinating Mr Moore?

Wax and dye – those two babies are floating my boat right now … and fish tacos – God how I love them.

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And where would you put yourself in terms of your development as an artist?

One word: “retarded”. I am an artist with special needs … please don’t laugh, its wrong to take delight in someone else’s misfortune. I think the Germans have a word for that – those crazy Europeans have a word for everything!

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If you had your time so far again, what would you do differently as an artist?

Here’s how it rolls… if I had my time again of course it would be different because you know you can’t repeat yourself exactly. What I mean is that if, let’s say, I drop my keys at a crucial point on my second time around, where I didn’t on my first, I could suddenly wake up as a brain surgeon with a passion for collecting 18th century clocks or a manufacturer of fine door handles – you know the ones with the fancy inlay details on the knobs…

But to be honest with you… I am truly blessed to wake up with myself everyday and lead the life I live. I wouldn’t change a thing.