The Sacred Mushroom
|This painting was inspired by my vivid memories of World War 2. My family and I were in Hong Kong during the Japanese Occupation and I used to sneak up to the roof during the frequent air raids and watch suicidally brave American pilots sinking ships in the harbour.
We lived for the last two years of the War in the Italian Convent, half way up the peak of Mt Victoria. This gave me a dress circle view of the air war. Sometimes the American planes would come diving over the top of Mt Victoria, passing just a few feet away from where I crouched on the roof terrace. I would wave frantically to the pilots and other air crew and sometimes they would wave back. By today's standards, the planes flew very slowly and many were easy targets for anti-aircraft fire. If any of the pilots were captured, the Japanese would treat them very badly indeed, before executing them. In my view, those American pilots early in the War were the first kamikazes.
The sea serpent fighting the pterodactyl is a symbol of those conflicts. The officer playing Western chess with the Japanese lady is dressed in the uniform of Commodore Perry's fleet. Perry opened up Japan to Western influence in the 19th Century.
The mushroom is a blue meanie, known to give illusions of power to the imbiber. It also reminds us of the nuclear clouds above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.