|Cotton thread, wire, shells and beads. Dimensions variable.|
In this instance, instead of searching for the great inland sea, the protagonist sets out in search of the much sought after contemporary icon ‒ a car park directly in front of a person's destination.
The installation came about from Cotching's frustration with the car culture that dominates regional cities, and the feelings of disconnection and isolation that occur when moving from car door to front door, with hardly a step between.
Laceman's journey follows a walk local artists and art lovers do on the first Saturday of every month as part of the whitecubemildura project. The journey travels through a traffic free, yet much criticised mall area, and seeks to highlight the positive impact taking a short walk can have.
On the 5th of April 2014 at 10:07am, Sir Charlie Laceman, explorer, soldier and public servant, set off, from a comfortable café in north Mildura, on one of the most challenging expeditions in recent history – the search for Mildura's great rock star car park!
Such a car park had been sighted, and indeed visited many times, by adventurers who had circled the town in motorised vehicles. However, this was the first time such an expedition had been attempted on foot, and a precise route had never been charted.
The journey was initially unpredictable, in parts equally dangerous and delightful, as Laceman ventured south west, passing offices and other spaces where strange ideas were developed and acted upon – some hospitable, others less so.
As reserves were running low, his route took a north westerly turn, into a plentiful landscape – light meals, treats and caffeinated beverages in abundance. At 10:11am Laceman sighted a junction. He headed south west, and in less than a minute found himself in a broad and noble clearing.
"It was impossible to describe the effect of so instantaneous a change in circumstance becoming me. Suddenly I was permitted to drift along at leisure. Crossing this vast space from one trinket shop to another, without the indignity of looking left, right and left once more, lest I be struck down... I had escaped the roads... and I dared to wonder if I might actually succeed in my endeavour...”
Just as quickly as this vast space appeared, it ended, and Laceman was back on the narrow and confined space of the footpath, weaving his way between display stands, chairs and tables. Laceman sighted a shop of treasures, entered, and believed some of the items to be quite beautiful, vowing to return the week before Mother's day.
It was just after this point that Laceman had his most hostile encounter – with an adventurer in a motor vehicle, also in search of Mildura's rock star car park. The adventurer hooted at Laceman, as he crossed the road just a few metres south of a pedestrian crossing. Laceman held out a leafy branch of peace. In response, the motor vehicle adventurer threw a tin kettle, as a reciprocal peace offering.
Another north west turn saw Laceman passing places wonderful, variable and modest. He rested a while at a supply store, gazing upon an interesting object in a clear box.
By 10:22am Laceman was weary and had come to realise his mission was doomed – the great rock star car park was a myth.
He struggled on regardless, reaching an office where people do interesting things with numbers. Coincidently on this day, the foyer was full of people who had been on a journey similar to his own. Laceman discussed his adventures with these travellers, explaining his innovative method of charting – using thread to indicate half metres, and beads and shells to record each store, tree and resting place. Through reviewing his own document, Laceman became enlightened. The mythical rock star car park he had sought, now promised nothing but an empty, lifeless space – worthless in comparison to the rich and interesting journey he had undertaken in its pursuit, all in less than fifteen minutes.