Pete Foley: The New Pantheon

Here’s something I never expected to find myself doing late on a Tuesday night – standing in a vacant, candlelit block high up on a hill in Brisbane’s West End, reading a book by torchlight with a bunch of strangers, while fruit bats circled above us and a cold breeze turned the trees in to scary dancing spirits. I quite sincerely thought I was going to die. But these are the things I am willing to do for my friends, particularly treasures like my mate Pete Foley.

When Pete first told me about his concept for The New Pantheon, I reacted as any good friend would by saying “that sounds awesome!” while secretly thinking ‘that is some super weird hipster shit right there, buddy.’ Good thing I didn’t actually blurt that out, because I would have looked a right dork about now. What Pete had conceived of turned out to be a stunning, sensual experience combining the best bits from performance art, literary events and indie art shows.

Central to the night was Pete’s artistry. A brilliant illustrator and animator, he has spun a hauntingly beautiful story of figures moving through an ambiguous, slightly nightmarish landscape – humans seeking connection and a sense of belonging. And sex (there’s always a bit of sex when Pete’s involved. Blokes, eh?). His writing is equally as sensitive and delicate as his drawings. I would kill to use language as simply and effectively as Pete does. I always seem to have too many words in me, whereas Pete is one of those people who can say twice as much with less than half,you know? Then again, his illustrations already say so much themselves. Sparse, monochrome sketches on brown paper, bound beautifully by our friend Linde, they make for one of the loveliest artist books I’ve ever run a cotton gloved hand across.

Of course, Pete’s ability to scout out the perfect location in which to hold his midnight reading was what made the spectacle of The New Pantheon truly thrilling. God knows how many creepy alleys he walked down looking for the right site. Even surrounded by people as I was, I half expected some vampirish freak to jump out of the shadows and attack me. Then again, I am occasionally given to episodes of melodrama and panic. I probably shouldn’t have gone there sober. With any luck he’ll stage another event and I can go there with a few fingers of whiskey under my belt.

I love my friends, my life treasures. I particularly love the ones who have wild imaginations and quirky outlooks, who challenge and inspire me to think beyond white walls, white pages and a beige life.

Mr Pete Foley is one of the best.

Photos from the Chippendale, Sydney, performance of The New Pantheon.
Images by Louis Dillon Savage

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