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Preserving the corner deli

THE corner store has become the victim of a consumer swing towards shopping centre monstrosities and its near extinction is the focus of local artist Garry Pumfrey’s latest exhibition.

Mr Pumfrey has produced a number of oil on canvas works of the local corner store in his home suburb of East Victoria Park that juxtaposes with his works on the modern structures of shopping centres.

His latest social offering is the evolution of earlier works that focus-ed on discarded and disfigured consumer items and his love affair with throw-away materialism was the result of a book he read about the economic effects of World War Two on American society.

“I read The Hidden Persuaders about the post-war economic boom in the US,” Mr Pumfrey said.

“Basically what happened was that after WWII there was an economic boom and everyone could have things like washing machines.

“Then, after that, when everyone had these items people stopped going out and buying things so companies had to advertise new problems or reasons for buying things.”

Mr Pumfrey enjoys painting discarded consumer items because of the ease with which we identify with objects that bear no resemblance to their former shape.

“I looked at coke cans and screwed up chip packets and the thing is you identify them instantaneously without fully seeing what it is,” he said. 

“I found it difficult to get away from. I started looking at delis and noticed a similar thing. They had the branded signs and very recognisable attributes.”

Mr Pumfrey is also conscious of the effects retail changes have on the communities we live in and his omission of customers from the stores not only reflects changes in retail habits but of a loss of community interaction.

He has concentrated on images from his own community of East Victoria Park.

“I’ve been living in this area for about 10 years and I’ve seen the delis close down as well as the changes in owners,” Mr Pumfrey said.

“I’ve seen them go from European to Asian management to really struggling.”

Mr Pumfrey said the ease with which consumers travelled to big shopping complexes made them responsible for the isolation occurring in some local communities.

While some of the businesses he has painted are still open for trade, the exhibition is really a reflection of changing times in society and depicts the corner store as somewhat of a historical artefact.

“The idea for this exhibition was to create a juxtaposition with the supermarket image,” Mr Pumfrey said.

“I’m working on those at the moment and they are bright 3D images that contrast with the corner store.”

Mr Pumfrey is an emerging artist who completed formal art studies at Claremont Art School and Edith Cowan University three years ago.

His exhibition will be launched at The Church Gallery on July 16 and will be on show until August 3.

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