The ‘why’ is the strange part of the whole equation, definitely. I don’t know why, but I had this dream the other night where I’d missed my stop. I was in a strange town, and once I realized I’d missed it I got off the train at the next station intending to switch back, only I see these interesting looking shops over the road and can’t help but get side-tracked. I go over and notice that one of the shops is dedicated solely to selling all kinds of beautifully crafted chess sets from all over the world. There are a few sets displayed in the window that look ridiculously intricate and unique, suggesting further bounty inside, so I lick my lips and lube up my greedy eyeballs for the visual feast that is surely just moments away, but at that point in the dream, I think my brain decides to back out of the deal.
I walk through the door and make my way down the main aisle but I can’t walk properly because there are fishing lines with mock sinkers and hooks tangling all up around my legs. Connected to the fishing lines are a troupe of colonialist reenactors who for some reason have situated themselves in this chess shop and are pretending to fish in the aisles as if it were the old prairie. I think at this point in the dream I am becoming aware that my brain has decided that it’s way too much trouble to conjure up hundreds of intricate and unique chess sets for my viewing pleasure so instead it creates this absurd distraction.
I struggle past the fishermen, but as I walk on a few more steps there is another guy who is also fishing in the aisle but this time he is no colonialist reenactor, he’s just a regular guy standing by himself, dressed in a tank-top, board shorts and thongs, sort of lazily flopping his rod about and getting in my way. My brain at this point has evidently given up providing me with interesting diversions. It’s an ongoing stand-off that I will never win. I realize now that I am not the boss of my brain and I’m never going to see the chess sets, now or ever.
So I make them. Well, not chess sets cause I don’t know how to use a wood turning lathe, but paintings, and that’ll do for now. And who knows what will come down the aisle. So I guess that’s why – if ya wanna see em, ya gotta make em!
Jan van Dijk is a painter and artist in residence at one of Jugglers’ studios at Wooloongabba.