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At Ease No country has worked harder at its leisure than Australia, so it is fitting that the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games crowned our first century of nationhood. At Ease deals with sport and leisure - the way these aspects of our culture have defined our self-image and presented us to the eyes of the world.

The passion for sport has inspired images of individual sporting heroes such as footballer Nicky Winmar and jockey Norman (Whopper) Stephens. Artists have also used sporting imagery as a vehicle for their own preoccupations, as in John Brack’s Strapper and horse.

Traditional leisure activities, at the beach, in the ‘pub’ and - from the early 1950s onwards - driving in the car, have provided artists with subject matter to explore. While Australians are primarily coastal dwellers, images such as Max Dupain’s Sunbaker - which acts as a mediating element between the sea, the sand and the sky - confirm Australia’s unity with the land.

‘Life-style’ became important to Australia’s economy in the 1950s when middle-class families bought cars, television sets and appliances in a consumer spending spree after the austerity of the war years. The family car allowed Australians to become tourists and day-trippers in their own country. The FJ Holden was known as ‘Australia’s own car’. It soon became a part of urban folklore and an object of desire for young males. The passionate bond between men and their cars has been neatly satirised by the feminist art and craft movements of the 1970s.

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