Do you remember that engaging Kit Kat ad based on Frederick McCubbin’s On the Wallaby Track? The characters came to life after closing time, rather like the movie Night at the Museum. Whenever I see the painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales I can’t help wishing the billy boiling bushman would spring to his feet again.

For those reading this who are not familiar with the term, ‘On the Wallaby Track’, it referred to unemployed itinerants, traveling the country in search of work. It still means the same thing really.

SOURCE – ART GALLERY OF NSW

The advertisement was created in 1982, almost a century after McCubbin completed the painting in 1896.

This much loved picture was purchased by the Art Gallery in 1897, for £126.

Not surprisingly, visitor numbers increased dramatically while the advertisement was popping up on our television sets. It would be lovely to think that for some people it was an introduction to the entire collection.

Actors in the 1982 Kit Kat advertisement.
STILL FROM THE AD

I wonder if people are tempted to drop a Kit Kat wrapper on the floor, to be picked up again by a security guard?

Still from the Kit Kat advertisement featuring the painting On the Wallaby Track.
DEAR ME, THE CLEANERS MUST HAVE MISSED THIS! (Still shot from ad)
Still from the Kit Kat advertisement,
PITY IT’S EMPTY….ANY FINGERPRINTS?

UPDATE – when this piece was first published, it was read by Suzie Ward. She and her husband were in the habit of taking their young son and daughter to the Gallery at the time, and they surreptitiously dropped a wrapper below the painting. Suzie said the look on the children’s faces was magic. 😍

On a more serious note, it’s such a moving, evocative work. The woman looks so very tired. Apparently she was originally shown facing the viewer, but McCubbin decided to turn her head away, which somehow increases the feeling of resignation. She was modelled on the artist’s wife, Annie.

Annie McCubbin by Frederick McCubbin
PORTRAIT OF ANNIE BY HER HUSBAND (Whitehorse Art Collection)
MOTHER AND CHILD

The baby was modelled on McCubbin’s infant son Sydney, but to me there is a striking resemblance to Albert, the Magic Pudding. (Sorry Sydney) 😛

Of course I couldn’t finish this piece without a link to the advertisement. CLICK HERE

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