AN ARTIST'S ARTIST'S ARTIST.
THE STORY OF CRAIG EXCEPTIONAL TONKIN
Or "Who's This Tosser and Why Is He Wearing My Hat?"
As told to the Dalai Llama.
Translated into Latin from the English version by Pythagoras.
Translated into English from the Latin version by William Shakespeare.
Trodden on a few times and flushed down the lavatory by Joseph Stalin.
"To know the artist within is to truly know one's self. And to know one's self is to know a pervert." - Freud
"Through valleys and o'er escarpments I have searched. And in the end I have found nought. What a bloody waste of time." - Plato
"We do not pursue art for fame or recognition. Nor for the monies it may bring or the influence it may wield. We pursue it for the sex. The kinkier the better." - Raphael
Craig Tonkin had only once ever been asked to write something on himself. That was in 1994 during an Iranian peace summit and the word 'git' can still be made out across his left buttock.
Craig's somewhat twisted obsession with the subject of Star Wars is an ancient and far reaching one that plumbs the depths of his probably-not-misguided-enough youth. In fact, if one can bring themselves to listen to Craig for more than four and a half seconds, he'll swear blind that his earliest childhood memory is of being taken to the Rundle Mall cinemas in Adelaide in late 1977 to witness what he describes as "The Beginning of Everything".
But that, in the words of some over-quoted wanker, is 'ancient history'. What transpired between that fateful day and the present is surely the stuff of great biographical literature. Or it's as boring as reading 'the' a million times. In which case stop reading now.
Yet if one were to skim over the rudimentary years of Craig's adolescence, it would be found that his life became really interesting once the shackles of the public schooling system were cast off. Throughout his school years Craig harboured a deep-seated desire to grow up to be a Chorus Girl. Discovering that this led to sudden unpopularity among his friends and questionable glances from members of the Home Economics faculty, Craig re-examined his goals and decided to one day become a parking inspector. Upon his completion of high school, however, Craig was dejected to discover that his straight A+ average immediately over-qualified him for such a pursuit. This, coupled with an unfortunate allergic reaction to chalk, bought Craig to the brink of despair.
Shortly after, Craig sought emotional refuge amongst his collection of comic books, Star Wars figures and inflatable barnyard animals. It was then that inspiration struck. The childhood obsession that had once been his very reason for being welled up inside of him.
Star Wars, or in a more roundabout way, making films that could not compare to Star Wars, would be his calling.
At the age of 19 Craig enrolled in film school.
Craig spent his first year of university concentrating on animation. Or more specifically, Claymation. Upon realising that two weeks was a bloody long time to spend creating two minutes of celluloid genius, Craig soon grew weary of this pursuit. In his second year, he decided to shift his focus away from manipulating plasticine and concentrate on manipulating real people instead.
This was when Craig's unparalleled talent moved up a gear.
Repman was to be Craig's first venture into the realm of 16mm movie-making. A film about a Superhero was vastly appropriate for Craig. Especially when one considers that he cast himself in the lead role. The orange and blue jumpsuit Craig was required to wear for the part bought back those whimsical mental wanderings of his teenage years, when a part in 'Starlight Express' seemed an unobtainable dream.
Repman was a remarkable public television success. In fact almost all of Craig's friends saw it.
If this unheralded success wasn't enough to blow the tits off Craig's lecturers, he made sure his follow-up project would.
Arthouse Crap was a radical departure for Craig. This groundbreaking, attacking mockumentary came at a critical time in Craig's career. It pulled no punches in its scathing critique of the Arthouse/ Performance Art culture that had perverted the decency of true modern art. Not only did it establish Craig as a genuine child prodigy, it represented his first significant collaboration with Warwick Holt: a prick and long time personal friend of Craig's. Or so Warwick likes to tell people.
Arthouse Crap blew the lid off the Glen Iris scout hall box-office. An unmitigated triumph, it soon became the coffee-urn conversation topic among most 5-7 year olds.
But where to now for Craig? Riding high on the wave of artistic and critical success, Craig decided once more to change tact and return to his artistic roots.
However, several phone calls later revealed that all of Craig's artistic roots had either gotten married or were enrolled in a witness protection program.
Unperturbed, Craig made a science-fiction film instead.
Pariah was to be his magnum opus.
This deeply witty yet disturbingly melancholic science fiction masterpiece was to find Craig once again ensconced in film student critical acclaim.
Pariah was considered a true epic. The tale of a dejected space captain and his battle against bureaucracy and incontinence became an enormous cult classic. Running at a massive thirty-two minutes, every frame of this celluloid gem could well have been framed and hung alongside the 'Mona Lisa'. And if it weren't for the fear of eclipsing that hack Da Vinci's disproportionate scribble they probably would have been. The Pariah fan club's numbers have now swelled to an impressive three and copies of this space-bound mind-blower are considered currency on the black market of sci-fi collectables.
For Craig this could well have been time to bail out; to go out on top; to exit on a high as so many gutless wankers had done before him. But no. For Craig this was only the beginning.
After throwing himself headfirst into the study of film for the previous four years, Craig decided to refresh his brain.
A tour of Western Europe saw Craig walk in the footsteps of the great Pantheon of Artists that he could now be considered worthy to stand amongst. The Florentine, Roman and French masters' resonance echoed around him.
After four months he got sick of the noise and pissed off home.
Craig spent the next two years writing. Writing like the wind. Toying with thoughts. Moulding concepts and syphoning ideas that could further break the ground of art that was already crumbling in his wake.
'Twas in the autumn of 1999 that his long time collaborator Warwick 'The Stick' Holt came to him and, as legend has it, said:
"Wanna make a Star Wars documentary?"
"No. Fuck off and leave me alone you lame praying mantis." was Craig's reply.
"Oh please…" Warwick was heard to plead.
"Oh alright, just don't stand too close to me when we're in public." touted Craig.
And the rest is history.
Or bullshit. It depends on your point of view.
All content (P) & (C) Primordial
Productions / Clint
All web pages (P) & (C) Warwick Holt 2000