Punching Skippy is a mixed media assemblage with accompanying soundtracks. The closer you get to her, the more erratic she becomes as she punches out to defend her ground. Don’t mess with this lady of the bush or she’ll knock you down with a single blow ….
The animatronic is an adapted 1970s vintage boxing kangaroo punching puppet fitted with a motor and sensor to propel the movement of her arms. Part of her base is made from the original painted hardwood panels taken from the old cottage the artists once owned and lived in on Rodgers St, Kandos. The shelf for the base also comes from the lumber yard in Kandos and was cut for the artists from a single log of American Rosewood.
Punching Skippy Electronic Components include: Arduino Uno and freetronics Eleven micro controllers, Adafruit Music Maker Shield, Ultrasonic Distance Sensor – 3V or 5V – HC-SR04, LV-MaxSonar EZ1 Range Finder, HS-311 Standard Economy Servo, SanDisk 16GB flash drive, 30W Mono speaker and other miscellaneous components including wires, screws, nuts and bolts..
What’s that Skip? An exhibition at Way Out Artspace Kandos opening Saturday the 19th August and running through to the 1st of October 2023.
Curated by Miriam Williamson and Leah Haynes.
“Large kangaroos are today so commonplace that most Australians have long ceased to wonder at them. Some even regard them as pests. Yet they are, in my opinion, the most remarkable animals that ever lived, and the truest expression of my country — not because they appear on everything from the coat of arms to the national airline, but because they have been made by Australia.” (Tim Flannery, from Future Eaters).
The Kangaroo is Australia’s iconic animal and an important totem animal to First Nations Australians dating back tens of thousands of years pre-European colonisation. Its cultural identity is ingrained in our national psyche. In this age of the Anthropocene and mass extinction our view of the Kangaroo is challenged as their behaviour responds to increased threat – from loss of natural habitat, farming practices, encroaching urbanisation, climate change, (fires and floods), illegal baiting and gun sport. The kangaroo meat industry, touted as ‘eco-friendly’, represents the largest single sustained massacre of land-based wildlife in the world and continues unregulated. As the Kangaroo’s natural habitat shrinks their vulnerability surely grows.
Our relationship with this animal is a dichotomy between much loved icon and pest, ranging from endearment and pride to intruder and threat.
Our love and cultural acceptance of the Kangaroo starts for many via the 1960s Australian TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo. Entrenched into the DNA of a generation of children, Skippy became the much-loved marsupial heroine who came to the rescue of her humans and fellow fauna. Over 93 episodes this weekly human interaction with the Kangaroo transported us into the Australian bush. It introduced the Kangaroo and our native wildlife to thousands, carrying strong themes about protecting the natural environment and its inhabitants and portrayed positive relationships with Australia’s First Peoples. Skippy became one of Australia’s greatest cultural exports, with a recognised reach to more than 300 million viewers worldwide.
Drawing on a rich historical narrative and the representation of the Kangaroo in popular culture ‘What’s that Skip’ portrays the Kangaroo and comments on the way the animal is perceived in contemporary society.
By Miriam Williamson and Leah Haynes