Why do these remind me of the ICPOTA man with his newspaper cap?

[River art installation: Talking Our Way Home by Shaun Kirby, River Torrens, Adelaide, South Australia. (Five glass and steel origami-like boats suggesting movement, transport and the idea of journey)].

Installation artist Shaun Kirby (born London 1958- ) migrated to Adelaide, South Australia with his family in the mid-1960’s. They were part of the vast post-WW2 British “Ten-Pound Pom” assisted migration scheme, based on the Australian request to “populate or perish”.

  • Kirby spent a short time at the former Elder Park Migrant Hostel which was not far from where his installation currently sits.
  • The floating artwork signifies both cultural and social issues portrayed, including the journey that many new Australians have embarked upon.

However, I cannot help but see these origami-like boats looking like the ‘ICPOTA’ character who used to appear in The Age broadsheet newspaper’s personal or classified advertisement section which was also advertised on television. ICPOTA was actually an acronym for this section i.e. “In the Classified Pages Of The Age” (ICPOTA). (See image above).

  • In the personal columns there were many advertisements asking for companion relationship connections. Many of these included words and phrases such as:
  • Desperately seeking | looks not important | have a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks | student of life | fun loving | care-free | seeking same | seeking friendship with a view to romance, etc.

The ICPOTA character was created by graphic artist Alex Stitt. His career began with the introduction of television (TV) to Australia in 1958. After creating many commercials for TV, his all-singing and all dancing  ICPOTA became a hit. Further successful campaigns included:

  • The Anti-Cancer Council’s Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign
  • The large couch potato called Norm for the “Life. Be in it” health and fitness campaign for the Victorian government in 1975 and later for the Australian national campaign in 1978.
  • Stitt has also worked with Fred Schepisi, Peter Ustinov and is a serious artist in his own right.

So, Be In It – Slip, Slop or Slap,
Fold up an Origami-like newspaper hat.
Take your friends down to the Torrens
Whether local or foreign,
And relish this artwork in its own habitat.

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