Banks, which one is mine?, 2013
In Banks, Which one is Mine? we quickly recognise the faces of both Captain Cook and Joseph Banks, both men wearing the unamused-expressions by which we have learned to identify ‘great men.’ But what are they doing holding golf clubs?
As we peer closer, details begin to register. We see cane toads abound around both men’s feet, one couple even fornicating; St Andrews clubhouse nestles gracefully in the middle distance and presents a mecca of contemporary golf; kangaroos forage on the course whilst cattle graze near a windmill behind a picket fence. Although a smile forms on the viewer’s face, so also does the question of the story here behind this image.
Based on L.F. Abbott’s well-known The Blackheath Golfer (1790), the first golfing poster ever produced, Hanks maps Cook’s face (the one familiar from our history books, Nathaniel Dance’s 1775 portrait) onto the golfing dandy and the equally recognisable image of Banks’ face (from Joshua Reynolds’ 1773 portrait) onto his manservant. The grand country house becomes St Andrews and other smaller details are added to invite closer inspection – note Cook’s belt-buckle.
Hanks’ time-consuming technique facilitates his wicked humour as he adds improbable but convincing detail after detail – a whimsical depiction of these ‘great men’ out for a bit of redneck-style sport with the toads. Golf is generally perceived as a ‘respectable’ sport, a domain of the professional classes, but in Hanks’ image the sport has its status recast as both ‘great white men’ are witnessed to embark on a thuggish killing spree by hitting the local pests with their golf clubs (an illegal and inhumane but nevertheless notorious practice).