"Once upon a time I was a political cartoonist...but had trouble making witty, incisive jokes; as a small rebellion against deadlines, punchlines and politics...I drew what I thought was an absurd, irresponsible triviality. It showed a man riding towards the sunset on a large duck. On his head was a teapot...not a 'proper' cartoon by conventional standards...the editor laughed, shook his head and published it. Many years later I was able to interpret the meaning of the drawing with certitude...the man was most definitely me and the teapot, worn like a fool's cap, symbolised warmth, nourishment and domestic familiarity...the duck represented feelings of primal freedom and playfulness..innocently I had drawn my impending departure from political cartooning, my flight to freedom."
I can't find the original drawing of which Leunig writes. Let's say the one I found (above) is a successor self-portrait. The duck grew tired of being ridden by a man. They continue their journey together. Some time later the duck turns and looks at the man, who responds.
With a little bit of luck
Will come into your life.
Or if you're inclined to go it alone....
Leunig — no one I know uses his first name — is a national treasure in Australia (literally: in 1999 he was declared a national living treasure by the National Trust and awarded honorary degrees from La Trobe and Griffith universities and the Australian Catholic University for his unique contribution to Australian culture.)
For those intrigued by my short introduction above, I recommend the website maintained on his behalf. From that source, here is a brief biographical excerpt:
Michael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet. His commentary on political, cultural and emotional life spans more than forty years and has often explored the idea of an innocent and sacred personal world. The fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world is a related and recurrent theme.
His newspaper work appears regularly in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. He describes his approach as regressive, humorous, messy, mystical, primal and vaudevillian - producing work which is open to many interpretations and has been widely adapted in education, music, theatre, psychotherapy and spiritual life.
"In the artist of all kinds one can detect an inherent dilema which belongs to the co-existence of two trends; the urgent need to communicate and the still more urgent need not to be found."
- D.W. Winnicott