Sometimes you can see a stamp dozens of times without fully appreciating its majesty. I suppose you could say the same of any artwork, or building, or person. And then, for some reason, you happen to notice it in a certain light, or at a certain magnification, or across a cosy bar eight vodka and tonics into a Friday night, and your breath can be taken away.
This happy little issue came out in 2011. They called it ‘Living Australian’. Look at those Australians, just going about their lives all Australian-y and shit.
I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention at the time, and I’ve only vaguely clocked them since. But when I saw this one cross my desk on the weekend – and I mean I really saw it – it filled me with joy.
At first glance, it’s entirely possible to miss what’s going on. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t fully taken it in until now. We’re looking at the backs of a row of cricket fans at Brisbane’s Gabba stadium. It’s summer, evidenced by the sombreros. This colourful national headwear serves the triple purpose of supporting one’s team, protecting the head and face from the ferocious Australian sun, and making it really easy to spot oneself in the crowd when they show slow-motion replays on the big screen. You just have to find your sombrero among all the other sombreros.
It’s an eye-pleasing dance of engaging colours, all those greens and blues and yellows, with the skewed perspective drawing the eye into the centre of the scene.
Wait – skewed perspective? It can take a moment to register that this vibrant scene is being reflected at us in the mirrored lens of a fellow punter’s aviator sunglasses. (Or “sunnies”, as Australians call them, because who has the energy to finish entire words?)
I love this particular stamp because it’s so unexpected. The others in this set do a fine and proper job of bringing us exactly what we’d expect of the brief, and good on them. But giving a photo like this the immortal honour of placement on an actual, official stamp represents a fun and insouciance that speaks to the good cheer and irreverence commonly found during a big day out at the cricket. The sunnie-wearer’s face frames the scene in a muted grey, offsetting the riotous colour of the reflected sporting enthusiasm.
But it gets better. On looking into this stamp, I learned that every image was selected in a competition that was open to the public, and this fantastic photo was shot by amateur photographer Katelyn Wall of Nambour. She tells the Sunshine Coast Daily a little more about how the snap came about:
Ms Wall snapped the winning shot in 2008, during the third day of a Test match between Australia and India. The model was her younger brother, Matthew.
She purchased the aviator sunglasses used in the shot just before the game from a nearby pharmacy after leaving her pair at home.
“It was during a drinks break and I was just playing around with the camera until I finally caught that moment,” she said.
“It’s appropriate that the photo was in the family and mates category because that’s what cricket means to me,” she said.
“It was just us going out and enjoying being Australian with beer and having a good life.”
Living Australian? Nailed it.
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