WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1991------------------------------------------TOPICS-----------------PAGE
Changes needed before we measure up to
this Swede's expectations.
The man who would be
by Mary Vernon
Ture Sjolander is eager to become a citizen
of Australia - but he rejects anything to do with Britain or the
"I love Australia, my greatest concern is
that Australians don't love it enough. As soon it is possible to become a
citizen of Australia without becoming a subject of the Queen then I will seize
the opportunity" he said.
In the meantime ex-artist Ture, 54, will
keep his Swedish passport and keep hoping for the social changes he sees as
vital for Australia in general and for Townsville i
"I am tired of art, painting has no
relevance in this modern age" said Sjolander, whose work is exhibited in
Sweden's National Gallery, Museum
of Modern Art and other international galleries.
"All of society has embraced technology, to
improve performance and to reach as many people as possible except for the
artistic world. It is blinkered and tied to the principle of one-off paintings
and limited edition prints.
"Perhaps it is still relevant in the Third
World countries which have no access to technology but in the Western
World it is finished. It is like making only one hand-written copy of a
He recently sponsored a public competition
to find a new name for the combined city of
Townsville/Thuringgova. The winner of the $500 prize was Don Talbot of
Cranbrook whose suggestion was "Queensland City".
"There are many things I would like to see
in Australia," he said. "We must throw off the British colonial system. The majority of Australians are
not of Anglo Saxon origin and they do not want to be part of the British
system. Having the British queen as the queen of Australia is
"And the constitution of Australia - it is
based on the Magna Charta and it is not appropriate to Australia today. " We
must embrace multiculturalism and on that foundation build a strong,
self-sufficient country like America. "The minority cannot lead the majority. I
believe that on the declaration of the Republic of Australia most of those
700.000 who now hold permanent resident visas, like me, would flock to become
He first came to Australia 1982 when he
visited all the capital cities and the outback and begane his love affaier witk
His biggest shock on that first trip was
meeting the great Australian mateship tradition and completely misinterpreting
"I had only recently arrived in the
country, I was in Canberra and I was thirsty. I found a bar and went in, but
when I saw it was full of about 200 men drinking together and no woman I turned
round and hurried out. I thought it was the biggest homosexual club I had ever
He laughs now over his mistake, but still
believes we must let go our convict past, in which he thinks the mateship
tradition is rooted, to grow and expand in a truly Australian
After his first trip he come back again on
his way to a film project in Papua Guinea. He met his future wife, Maria, a
Filipino-born Australian in Sydney and, after tidying up his affairs in Sweden
he arrived to settle and marry her in Australia in 1988.
"We came to Magnetic Island for our
honeymoon and liked Townsville so much we stayed."
Although they have now separated, Ture
continues to live in Townsville with his 20-month-old son, Matu because he
thinks it is an ideal place.
When he first arrived, he found that people
were much friendlier if they thought he was a tourist. They would welcome him
and offer help. If he said he lived here, their concern and interest shut of
"S I started to pretend that I was a
tourist and people in shops and buses and taxis were extremely friendly.
When I saw the same person again I would tell them I was back again on
Ture has abandoned this game now and hopes
for a political future.
His concerns are many and he is passionate
about them all. Ture Sjolander not one to remain uncommitted even though some of
his views may seem contradictory.
On the one hand he is concerned about
over-developement of Townsville. He feels that it is a good size now and double
the population, as some developers have promised to do would destroy the
lifestyle many find attractive.
"We don't want another Brisbane or Sydney
here. Europe is full of cities which have followed this route and have been
ruined by over-development and over-industrialism.
"We don't want that to happen
He believes it would be preferable to
spread developement around among the various North Queensland centres, so that
all can grow a little , but not too much.
But on the other hand he is keen to see
developement on Palm
" I believe that Palm Island could be a
great tourist tourist attraction. It is so naturally beautiful, and so close to
the reef. "We should negotiate with the community there to build up tourism, to
build a resort, maybe to stage an annual festival there. " It is a great
resource and on which is not being used".
While he waits for the republic and his
chance at Australian citizenship, Ture spends his time caring for his small son.
"I have a single parent's allowance, which let me stay home and look after Matu.
Besides that, I have royalties from my books and artworks which are on
public display in Sweden. " Under Swedish law, artworks are treated the same way
as music and books here. If they are on show royalties are paid to the artists
for the privilege"