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Sport 21: Spring 1998


page 43


In one of Patrick Hayman's last dated paintings—perhaps his last—The dark plane takes off at evening (1988), a black aeroplane flies upwards directly into the sun. Left behind is the figure of a woman, a hybridised bird-human (reminiscent of The Indian Flier) and one other. A valedictory symbol, the dark plane is a crucifix. No longer the sexualised mechanism of earlier paintings, here the aeroplane—like that in McCahon's ‘Jet Out’ drawings or in Malevich's Suprematist works—prefigures and enacts the flight of the human soul leaving its earthly garden. Having shed the quirky particulars of Hayman's earlier motorised inventions, this Dark Plane, in its stark, universal symbolism, can be seen as a reprise to D.H. Lawrence's ‘Ship of Death’, the aeroplane supplanting the vessel in Lawrence's poem while inheriting its function:

Oh build your ship of death, your little ark
and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine
for the dark flight down oblivion.11

This painting is the beginning of Hayman's dark flight, the creatures of earthly desire at once left behind yet somehow involved and implicated in whatever might eventuate.