NewsA cardboard horse named Russell

A cardboard horse named Russell

A British art director makes a friend in quarantine. The cardboard horse is now in the museum in Canberra.

The Australian National Museum in Canberra is a venerable museum. It houses the country’s most important artifacts – from indigenous treasures to the navigational instruments of Captain James Cook, who once took possession of Australia for the British Crown. Now the museum in the capital is getting a surprising addition: a paper horse named Russell.

The cardboard horse was previously owned by David Marriott, a British art director who lives and works in Sydney. Marriott built the stallion at the beginning of the year. At that time he was sitting alone in a hotel room in Brisbane. After a trip to Great Britain, he had to serve two weeks in a quarantine hotel – a measure taken by Australia in the fight against Corona. The artistically gifted Marriott found the “luxury prison” to be harder to endure than he expected. In a telephone interview at the time he said: “Freedom is a precious good.”

But instead of sinking into sadness, the 58-year-old got creative. “When I travel, I always have a painting pad and watercolors with me, so I started to paint the view from the hotel room,” he reported. Then he read books, watched television – then he ran out of ideas.

Russell gains fame on the net

But he soon noticed the mountains of rubbish that every single meal in the hotel room generated. “You get these brown paper bags with the dishes and snacks with every meal,” he explained. In the course of time, a lot of containers and material would come together. “I kept everything, cleaned it up and sorted it in order to recycle it.” When there was a bowl in the bag on the third day, he had the idea that a great hat could be made out of it. Then he separated the paper bags – which he said were a “great material” – and started tinkering. For TV commercials that he had produced in his job, Marriott had handcrafted the props. “The knowledge that I have accumulated over the years has benefited me.”

From the materials he tinkered himself into a cowboy outfit and finally – with the help of the ironing board and a desk lamp – a partner whom he named Russell. Russell is a cardboard horse with a posable mouth – a nice feature the artist brought in when he started making short videos of his wild west landscape in his hotel room and chatting with Russell. He uploaded photos of his artistic escapades to Facebook and the short videos to Vimeo. Then people from all over the world contacted him, reported Marriott. It is nice to make others happy, especially in these difficult times, he said. “The best thing, however, was that the pictures made my mom laugh.” Because Marriott had previously left Australia for a sad reason: When his father was hospitalized in the UK after a fall in February, he was infected with Covid-19 and there died.

Marriott also made a nice change for the hotel staff. When he was having a joke and requested a walk-out service for Russell, the hotel manager wrote back in amusement: “I have to ask everyone (horses and everyone else) to stay in the room for the duration of the quarantine. I trust that your noble steed can take it. “

After the quarantine, Marriott actually wanted to leave his friend Russell in the hotel, but colleagues inside convinced him to bring the cardboard horse home. Because by then Russell was already a celebrity in Australia. The media attention also called the museum to the scene. So far they have not wanted to comment on the rather unusual newcomer, but, according to Marriott, sent “special art couriers” to safely package Russell and transport it to Canberra. “I’m sure they have a nice air-conditioned stall for him!” Commented Marriott on Facebook.

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