Julian Dashper and Friends blog series: Jim and Mary Barr


IMAGE: Julian Dashper at Cubewell House in 1993. Photo: Jim Barr. 

Go get ‘em champ

Jim and Mary Barr share memories behind the photo taken of Julian Dashper at Cubewell House in 1993. They write: 

Julian Dashper loved having his photo taken. He was not only up for being photographed any time, he also liked to participate in how the picture was going to come out. There were a few favourite poses. The most memorable was hunched over with his fists up like Robert De Niro playing Jake La Motta in the final scene of Raging Bull. This was his all-time favourite movie. Julian knew the famous La Motta monologue by heart. 'I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody,' he would chant. This photo was taken just after Julian had done the full three and a half minutes worth. It's 1989 and he's standing in front of his painting Here I was given, a homage to Colin McCahon, and it was to the spirit of McCahon that Julian had humorously made the La Motta speech that afternoon. McCahon was very much on all our minds that day as we were hanging an exhibition titled After (after) McCahon: refashioning the new. It was an ironic riff on the exhibition After McCahon that Tina Barton had curated for the Auckland Art Gallery earlier that year. The After (after) exhibition was held in Cubewell House on Kent Terrace. It's now an apartment building but then it was a shabby office block and empty spaces.

Being a professional enthusiast as he was, Julian had come to Wellington to help hang the show and attend the opening. When we talked about including Here I was given, Julian told us again how much he wished it could hang with the McCahon it was based on. That wasn’t going to happen in Cubewell House. Now, 26 years later, thanks to the City Gallery, that wish has been granted. It’s a sad note in an exhibition so delighting in his work that he didn't get to see it.

Jim Barr and Mary Barr

- Clip: Ragging Bull, 'Could have been a contender'