David Wills


Too much chicken on your hands

As far as Christmas traditions go, our family has a peculiar one. From the beginning of the new year, my mother begins a year-long hoarding process of instant lottery tickets. Come Christmas morning, mum divvies them up and dishes them out to us all. For the next few hours, we sit around the dining table scratching our stash of tickets competing with each other to win the most money. The stakes are high as we’ll talk about this all day long sharing anecdotes from previous years.

Too Much Chicken On Your Hands is an hour-long fly-on-the-wall look at my family’s typical Christmas. Typically, we sit around the table enjoying our traditional Christmas breakfast tucking into barbecued chicken wings marinated in soy, garlic and ginger, and washed down with Miranda Spumante topped-up with (reconstituted) orange juice. Delicious!

This year’s breakfast begins with my father answering a telephone call, one that turned out to be a wrong number. He wished the woman on the other end a merry Christmas, hung-up and everyone laughed turning back to the task at hand. A Reader’s Digest compilation played in the background, and somehow the first track was perfect, Racey’s Lay your love on me, and many of us know how that one goes.

Not long after the final belches of Christmas lunch have been released, my mother begins her year-long ritual of buying the next batch of lottery tickets in the hope that one of us will win big. It hasn’t happened yet, and after 30+ years of scratching, we all still remain hopeful that the coming year will be the year one of us takes out a big prize. It would make Mum really happy!

Come December, mum transforms scented and collected toilet paper rolls into Christmas Crackers. Inside, an instant lottery ticket, a small chocolate, a paper crown and a trinket of some kind. One year, sharp metal objects were included, which, when the crackers were pulled, sent nail files and clippers across the room. No one was harmed in the mayhem.

Throughout the day, Mum tallies-up everyone’s tickets, checking non-winning ones just in case someone made a mistake. My middle brother usually tops the list, and I often appear towards the bottom. It’s all great fun, and brings so much joy to my parents.

At some point through the video my father complained about his coin being slippery. The combination of eating greasy chicken while trying to scratch-off your tickets wasn’t a working strategy, as my mother sagely acknowledged: “You’ve got too much chicken on your hands.”

Too much chicken on your hands, 2007 comprises video, found furniture, trophies, and instant lottery tickets. Observant gallery visitors could have found an unscratched ticket and perhaps have won their own small fortune. Dimensions are variable. It was exhibited in He Said She Said at Kudos Gallery in Sydney, 2008.

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