Artists interact with the events and issues of their time and place and this is shown with Australian artist Brett Whiteley’s artwork series called “the Christie series”. Some of Whiteley’s artworks include “Head of Christie”, “Christie and Hectoria McLennan”, “10 Rillington Place” and “Christie and Kathleen Maloney”. Brett Whiteley is an Australian artist paints his artworks in an abstract way. He was born on the 7th of April 1939 and he died on the 15 June 1992. Whiteley was a passionate artist who worked across a wide variety of media. Whiteley was a draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor and writer.
His paintings during this time were influenced by the modern art of the sixties. He painted his wife Wendy in a series called “The Bathroom series”. This was to show her beauty within. In 1964 Whiteley became interested in the murders in which John Christie committed. Whiteley was staying within walking distance of 10 Rillington Place which is where the murders took place. He was also drank at the same pub as Christie. He research all about the murders by using newpaper articles, police reports and a wide range of evidence. Whiteley also liked to paint to paint Sydney Harbour views in the 1970’s.
Whiteley became dependant on alcohol and became addicted to heroin leading to him having episodes of schizophrenia. His work output began to decline but the market value continued to climb. He tried to sober up off the alcohol and to get off the drugs but they were unsuccessful. In 1989 he got divorced from his wife Wendy. On the 15th of June Whiteley was found dead due to a heroin overdose. The event of the Christie’s murders and its issues influenced Whiteley to create the series based on the time and place, he was at. John Reginald Halliday Christie lived in London when London was suffering from the horrors of World War 2.
Christie had a Jekyll and Hyde personality and he had an IQ of 168(which is above the average as it is 120). Christie and his wife Ethel lived in 10 Rillington Place since 1938 and he had spent four years as a constable during the war. They lived on the bottom floor and there were two other families that occupied the top two floors. Beryl Evan’s who lived on the top floor with husband Timothy. Beryl had fallen pregnant with their second child and they couldn’t support it financially. Abortion was really expensive and they didn’t have the money to do it. Christie said he can do it cheaper and Beryl accepted it.
He showed her medical books and used scientific talk to her. Christie really had no medical qualifications. Christie had killed Beryl by getting her to sit in the death chair (which was a deck chair) and he put a mask on her face which was like an oxygen mask. This was really connected to a gas supply which slowly killed her. The baby had survived mean while Beryl didn’t. Timothy Evans helped Christie move Beryl’s body into Mr. Kitchener’s empty flat. The next day Christie told Timothy that he was going to dispose Beryl’s body down a man hole. Two years had passed and the murder had been forgotten.
In December 1952 Ethel Christie was in terrible health suffering from chronic arthritis. This was not helped by the damp conditions in her home. Christie thought he would put her out of her misery by asphyxiating her. He killed her the same way he had done to Beryl two years before. He continued to write letters to Ethel’s sister for her to believe Ethel was still alive. Now that he had his wife out of the way he could continue pursuing his strange obsession. Then in the next three months he had killed three prostitutes in the same way he had killed Beryl and Ethel. The prostitutes were never missed expect for Hectorina MacLennan.
Christie would hide the bodies inside the walls of his apartment. There became an unpleasant odour due to all the dead bodies which was hidden in the apartment. He then realized that it would soon be smelt by his neighbour’s so he decided to let a couple moved in there. Mr. Brown a Jamaican man was given permission to use the downstairs kitchen. He decided to clean up the kitchen as Christie had left it a mess. He had noticed some of the wallpaper was not covering a wall but a door to an alcove. As he opened the door and shone his torch into it was when he discovered a dead body of one of the victims that Christie had murdered.
The police searched the house and discovered the bodies of Kathleen Maloney, Rite Nelson and Hectorina MacLennan. Then they revealed that Ethel Christie’s body was hidden under the floor boards and the remains of Ruth Fuerst and Muriel Eady were in the garden. Both Ruth and Muriel had been murdered in Christie’s early killing sprees between 1943 and 1944. Christie was charged with the murders of Mahoney, Nelson, MacLennan, Fuerst and Eady. On the 8th of June he finally admitted to killing his Beryl Evans. His sexual thoughts and needs to have sexual thoughts and actions against the woman wasn’t proof of nsanity. At 9. 10am John Christie had been hung. Whiteley interacted with the time and place and this is shown in his artwork of “the Head of Christie”. This painting is a Brett Whiteley styled artwork as he distorted John Reginald Halliday Christie. Whiteley had done this artwork in 1964. Whiteley had drawn Christie on the side to show his unbalanced state of mind. Whiteley drew his head large to show his high IQ. Whiteley used a lot of space to draw our attention to Christie. His eyes are to the side of his head to show his sexual feelings he had towards the woman.
Another artwork in which Whiteley shows that he interacts with the time and place is the artwork “Christie and Hectoria MacLennan”. This artwork was done in 1964. This artwork is about one of the victims Hectoria MacLennan who was murdered by Christie. In this artwork Hectoria is naked this is to show that Christie saw his victims as a sexual object not a human being. Hectorina is sitting on the death chair in the artwork. The background is an ultramarine blue colour. Stretching across the artwork is the gas tube with a bulldog clip attached to it. At the far left side are the hands of Christie.
This is showing him reaching out for the clip to release the gas into the mask. Attached to the gas line is a gas mask which looks like an oxygen mask. This is on Hectoria’s face. Another artwork in which Whiteley shows that he interacts with the time and place is the artwork “10 Rillington Place”. This artwork was created in 1964. This artwork is of Christie’s apartment. This is also the place in which the murders were committed and the bodies buried. The artwork is the apartment with some people standing at the front door. This could be Christie and the other families living there or his victims.
This is left unknown. The house has an old fashion look and Whiteley has added a lot of shading onto the house. The last artwork in which Whiteley shows that he interacts with the time and place is the artwork “Christie and Kathleen Maloney”. This artwork was created in 1964. In this artwork Christie is on top of Kathleen Maloney. Whiteley has also drawn Kathleen and Christie on top of a striped mattress. Whiteley has also drawn both of the figures partially abstracts. Whiteley didn’t draw Kathleen’s face as this is to show what Christie seen through his eyes.
He saw her as a sexual object not a human being. Whiteley has also drawn lots of body movements to represent a struggle. This would have been from Kathleen. In conclusion Brett Whiteley interacts with the time and place in which he is and what he is painting about. This is shown through the artworks “the head of Christie”, “Christie and Hectoria MacLennan”, “10 Rillington Place” and “Christie and Kathleen Maloney”. These were all artworks from the Christie series. They took place in London and this was where Whiteley had done his research and created the artworks.