Material: multimedia installation



Adrian Nabi

“The Kilroy tag apparently has its origins in the Second World War, where rumour has it that a military shipyard inspector started writing it on parts of a ship before they were assembled. Whatever the truth, the tag became widespread in the States, turning up in public places everywhere until its popularity began to wane in the 1950s. The tag has special meaning for Downey, whose parents have a military back- ground. The Kilroy tag, then, is an unexpected meeting point for a graffiti artist who often works outside the law, and a family who make a living from enforcing the law. Indeed, Downey’s tag for many years was the simple ‘Brad Downey Was Here’.

The “Was Here,” series from Brad Downey, attempts to transform the artist into the mythical character Kilroy – from the well-known graffiti tag ‘Kilroy Was Here’ of a bald man’s head (an egg-head) with a large nose peering over a wall. In Downey’s version, Kilroy’s nose grows, Pinocchio-like, even longer and more obviously phallic. Finally, Downey starts mutating into the egg-shaped Humpty Dumpty, who of course fell off a wall. There’s a clear link between Kilroy and Humpty, walls, and the fact that graffiti artists conventionally work on walls. But could there also be a symbolic connection between the broken eggs, the falling off the wall and the money falling to the floor – a comment on failure, perhaps (or Downey’s own artistic anxieties)? In- deed, an artist – particularly a graffiti artist – is supposed to create a witty persona or alter-ego. Downey’s persona, however, seems to be perpetually in flux, and often returns to childhood nostalgia.”
_Jennifer Thatcher