Eric Stevenson

The Tank Project was part of the City of Sydney’s Art and About festival in 2008. Eric Stevenson, owner of armoured personnel vehicles, lived in them for the duration of the project. In his interview he discusses his involvement in the Tank Project. In the excerpt below he talks about differences in gender and cultural reactions to the work.

It’s interesting watching the night crowd, particularly Thursday, Friday night. So, males and females together are quite polite, even though they may have had alcohol. Males together, you will normally get one in the group who’s very outgoing and you can pick it straight away when they’re coming towards you. So the whole idea as they come up, rather than be challenging, is to say “They’re big, aren’t they? Don’t you want to take a photo?” And they say, “Oh, yes, please”. Then the difference between males and females is a male will stand next to the vehicle and put their hands as though they’ve got some sort of arthritis, which you see on TV, with the fingers out …; females will drape themselves over the vehicle, consistently. Females, three seems to be a critical mass. If you have three very well dressed females on high heels, drunk, they will all want to climb on the vehicle. The groups vary. On a Thursday and Friday night we can spend three hours negotiating with people to take photos, or not climb on the vehicle, which makes it quite busy. The difference between Australians and foreigners is that anyone with an accent is very respectful of armoured vehicles. Many of the Slavic countries and the Asian countries can’t understand why they’re in here and there’s not some sort of police presence. They will always ask permission, “May we take a photo?” We encourage them to take photos.

Margo Beasley