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BASIL HADLEY (1940-2006)
“Feral Cat Heading North”
Oil on Canvas
Signed Upper Left, Dated 93
Provenance: Private Collection, Adelaide.
That this heavenly narrative painting has come onto the market is really quite a treat.
Of all Australian artists, Adelaide-based Basil Hadley had the most acute sense of environmental justice. Many of his works were commentaries on the predicaments of nature and nature’s creatures. But this is a really strong and almost mischievous depiction of the bad guys of the bush, feral cats. He has them imagined as a feline Kelly gang, heading off to see what wickedness they can wreak. The bush rises majestically on the dark hill, the foreground tree trunk bending like a boomerang. The cat looks with satisfied defiance from the canvas, a mess of feathers at its feet. He is big against the landscape because the impact of feral cats on small native Australian animals is large. The artist makes no bones about it. And yet, and there is the great Hadley gift, the painting evokes mixed emotions for it holds an undeniable streak of humour, too. It’s the sort of clever image of which one will never tire.
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