A Roomfull (1994)

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 203 x 153
Private collection, Melbourne

This interior juggles several motifs borrowed from the “Traditional Living Room” page in Arkley’s copy of Gold’s Instant Decorator. The foreground chair and table had already featured in Suparoom (1992), and would reappear in several later compositions, notably Fabricated Rooms (1997-99), where the motif forms a key point of relative stasis within the shifting planes of the widescreen interior.

In this 1994 painting, however, the solid forms of the lounge chair and table float uneasily somewhere above the swirling floor, and there are other contradictory depth cues. For example, the background dining setting (also based on Gold’s line-drawing) features grey line-work, perhaps indicating distance, but also suggesting the illusion of a separate painting within the painting.

The various clashing patterns add to the spatial and visual noise. Daniel Thomas, in a lively analysis (in Murray Cree & Drury 2000), identifies a dream-like character to the image: “Even if it’s only a carpet, there’s wild life in suburbia, inside.” In fact, the stencilled patterning typifies many of Arkley’s mid-90s suburban canvases, including a key series of exteriors, beginning with Floriated Residence (1994).

Playing on the spatial ambiguities in this painting, Arkley was shown sitting ‘in’ it, in a manipulated photo by Greg Elms, published in the Melbourne Age in November 1997, illustrating a story to mark the launch of Crawford and Edgar’s Arkley monograph, Spray (see Trioli 1997).

Revised entry, incorporating new information kindly provided by the owners (May 2024).


  • Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
  • Purchased from the above by the present owners, 1990s


  • Trioli 1997 (photo by Greg Elms)
  • Murray Cree & Drury, Australian Painting Now (2000), frontispiece and pp.32-33 (ill.; essay by Daniel Thomas)
  • Carnival Fig.1.4 (reproducing the 1997 Age photo)