ACE Open Christmas Card Commission

Self Portrait as The North Star at the 2002 Credit Union Christmas Pageant heading to the David Jones Magic Cave, 2020

There is so much entertainment made for kids that is equally exciting and terrifying. Perhaps due to the exaggerated gestures, hyper-saturated colours and often psychedelic storylines, so many of the children’s tv shows I watched as a kid scared the living daylights out of me but simultaneously drew me back every day for more - Barney, The Ferals, Johnson and Friends. During the festive season this also extended to the Christmas pageant. The floats are transfixing! Each one easily as big as a church in my memory. Their lolling heads, people standing atop waving like queens - sometimes coming as close so as to high five - but mostly staying in their lane - like a convoy of visiting royals passing through as a detour in a quest from The Never-Ending Story. And they’re heading towards the David Jones Magic Cave.

If you go (or went) to the Magic Cave, or any shopping mall Santa booth, you’ll know there’s lines of thrilled kids waiting their turn to sit on Santa’s Lap to ask for whatever it is. And their parents waiting to get a picture of their children. But a quick internet search will tell you that although this photographic tradition has been hugely popular for decades, there are far more images available of children crying on Santa’s lap than of children smiling. Perhaps because once the anticipation of seeing Santa and telling him your wishes comes to a peak of actually getting to your turn, there can often be a sudden fear or sadness or just general overwhelming experience — or maybe it’s because you’re sitting on a stranger’s lap at Westfeild with everyone staring at you. I wanted to make something that reflected for me this combined feeling of cheer, alarm, excitement and otherworldly-ness that the pageant always had for me.

Being asked to make a company Christmas card is a dream job for me so thank you to ACE for asking.

This image was awarded the RMIT ‘Best Self Portrait Award’ at the 2020 ILFORD CCP Salon