"When people stop believing in God," said G.K. Chesterton, "they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything."
I have the feeling Francis Upritchard's Believer is a believer of that kind.
There's a hint of the medieval penitent to him -- the bony northern face, the sacking robe. But the hair-band and face paint locate him in a more recent time, the 1960s, when "believing in anything" was rife. Think cult leaders, one-man religions, gurus without a congregation.
"At the time I was making this work I was thinking about yoga, about spiritual beliefs and about people's attempts to free themselves from unhappiness", Upritchard says in an interview in the forthcoming issue of Bulletin.
"I think of my Believer as bearing the costume for an ill-informed, half-digested, short-cut attempt to achieve mental clarity and peace, but still somehow maintaining a noble grace -- because they're nice states to try for."
The latest addition to the strange cast of characters that make up our tenth-birthday Populate! lineup, Believer can be seen in full on the Stereoscope panels on the back of the bunker on the Gallery's forecourt.
A few metres away the Montreal Street traffic barrels past, but this guy's lost in a zone of his own. A fringe-dweller right in the heart of things.