Banksia – Goddess of Modern Art

The Goddess Banksia was created when the Green Fairy of the Bohemian Revolution was splattered against the windscreen of Jackson Pollock’s speeding car. Banksia watches over all Modern, Contemporary and Conceptual Art and Artists. If you have to ask whether or not it is art, then it falls under the province of Banksia.

No one, in fact, really knows what Banksia looks like. Artists that have glimpsed her running through the corners of their drug induced nightmares have tried to record their impressions, but the results are very varied.  Banksia is only the name we know her by. Her true name is a sacred secret held only by the High Priest. Unlike other gods (which you may be encouraged to “find”), NO ONE WANTS YOU TO FIND BANKSIA. The mystery will always be more enigmatic than the answer.

The first time you see a temple of Banksia the radical, conceptual,
brutalist architecture of the exterior may make you wonder whether the building is a ground-breaking work of art or just still under construction. Above the main entrance the letters W.T.F. are carved into the stonework. The rooms inside the temple are mostly either light, airy galleries or studios. The galleries are the only areas where the general public are allowed. (The Avant Security Guards control access.) They are painted in 38 different shades of white and are almost bare but for the sacred works displayed and the occasional pew. By contrast the studios are cluttered rats nests that “are exactly the way we like it so don’t you dare touch a thing”.

Each temple of Banksia also has a room where devotees can go for comfort when they are drowning in depressive thoughts that their art is contrived, unoriginal and valueless. This is called the Negative Space. There is also a tea room. By day this may seem a pleasant and innocent place, somewhere to sit and cogitate on creativity, but dark rumours circulate about Banksia’s tea rooms. By night they are said to be used to carry out a horrendous torture on transgressors of the faith. The victim is said to be cruelly force fed scones. They are made to munch until they scream.

The final room you might visit in the temple is the smallest one. A post-modernist bathroom installation known as the Po-Mo (by R. Mutt). Whatever you do, do not actually use it. It’s not plumbed in and it has a price tag which means it will be the most expensive penny you ever spend. If you are a neophyte artist, as you leave the temple, feel free to help yourself from the box of goodwill donated art materials. These were originally given to the higher echelons priesthood as gifts by well-meaning friends who didn’t realise that they would have been happier with a donation of half a pint of menstrual blood and a cup of population paste to paint with.

The Priesthood of Banksia are seen by outsiders as somewhat… …well let’s use the kind term “eccentric”. They have either come to the faith at a young age and been driven mad by the relentless pursuit of artistic perfection, or they were a bit nutty to begin with and were advised to join the faith as a form of therapy. They proudly wear their official robes of office, which look like paint streaked old shirts. They always have unruly manes of hair, for of the hundred or so brushes that each priest owns, not one of them is a hairbrush. (Or a sweeping brush.) When one stands within about 50 meters of a priest of Banksia, one can detect their distinctive perfume, a blend of linseed oil and turpentine. The current High Priest in residence is Mr Art Majors.

Because an artist’s work tends to increase in value after the artists death. The thing a Banksian dreads most is seeing their doctor coming into the temple gallery and buying all of their paintings. When the mortal coil finally ends, the church of Banskia offers unconventional funerary services, open to all who wish to achieve a kind of aesthetic immortality. Their firm of funeral directors Van Hagens & Hirst are amazingly popular. You can be your own beautiful memento mori! If you attend a Banksian funeral, it is important to show the proper respect for the deceased by speaking in dead pantones.

The church of Banksia is not typically a wealthy one. The principal revenue raiser is the sale of Modern and Conceptual Artworks produced by the clergy. A very few of the higher clergy can demand exorbitantly high prices for their work. It is just as well, as they are needed to subsidise the rest of the clergy. Who, when they do sell a piece, usually make less profit than the person who framed it. The Monochromist sect are the only acolytes to actually generate a reliable, regular income for the faith. As a side-line they make those paint colour cards you can pick up at the DIY warehouse. They also sometimes name new colour shades using the rejected working titles for their own artwork. This is why there is a shade of bluish green non drip gloss called Poseidon’s Vomit. If any surplus income remains after the maintenance of the temple and the clergy, then it is invested in public arts. Their next planned project is the building of a giant steel protractor at the side of the A1 near Gateshead (working title “The Angle of the North”). Following this there is a plan to build an enormous statue of the Hamburglar overlooking the M1 near Sheffield (working title “The Man of Steal”).

Should you decide to visit a temple of Banksia for a little enlightenment one rainy Sunday afternoon, be very careful what you say whilst inside. If anyone is heard to utter the blasphemous words “Huh! I could have done that.” in her temple, one of the priests will thwack them around the head with a large, heavy marble tablet inscribed with the words “Yeah. But you didn’t!”

A note:
There are references to 15 Modern and Contemporary artists / art works in this picture. Have fun finding
them all. If you get stuck, I will do a little post with the answers next weekend.

Thank you to James R Turner (@JRTwrites) for suggesting Banksia.

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