A KALTBLUT exclusive. Photography by Boa Campbell. Styling by Kristie Klein. Model is Ava signed at The Mgmt. Hair by Phoenix Ly signed at Duval Agency. Make up by Ben Dniprowskij. Art / location / space designed & built by Boinga Bob.
Meeting Boinga Bob
“…I genuinely think a lot of people are out there looking for the wrong thing.. They’re looking for money and riches and gold… Things that you can’t take with you when you move on spiritually… I mean… When you cast your body off, all these diamonds and rubies and gold can go nowhere.. And a lot of people like the Donald Trumps, and the Kim Jong-uns, they think all this material is important.. But it’s not though.. It’s coming and going..” (in conversation with Boinga Bob [aka Robert Prudoe], 12th April, 2018)
On a recent trip back to Australia, I had the honor of finally meeting the eccentric character that is Boinga Bob (aka Robert Prudhoe) for the first time. It was after a friend had shared an article with me a year or so ago about his incredible journey and of course his mind blowing and ever growing “Outsider” artwork that is the home he inhabits, other sculptures and art works, located in Warburton, Victoria, Australia.
From what I had seen of Bob’s house in pictures prior to meeting him, I felt it’s the kind of space which could only be built and imagined by someone with a highly informed, deep fascination and empathy for life. From the psychedelic colours, naturalistic forms to the motifs and patterns, it reminded me a bit of the Art Nouveau movement, but very much uniquely “Boingafied” as Bob later described his style when we met – further juxtaposed with collected fossils, ornaments, and objects of cultural significance from different parts of the world.
Fueled by much inspiration to know more about this incredible human being I had heard so much about, I took a few hours journey from the city to try and catch him on my last week in Australia.
Despite my unplanned, random turn up on his doorstep, it was an indescribably heart warming welcome by Bob, which to my delight, evolved into sharing hours of soulful tales about his inspiration, worldly adventures of life on the road, spirituality, travels and much, much wisdom. Admittedly, I was so overwhelmingly moved by the stories and the energy Bob carries, and finally witnessing in the flesh his beautiful creations, I had to make my excuses and take a breather outside to let a few tears out. I wondered, was I somehow overcome by emotions because I may have created some link between Bob and my late father, as they seemed to share similar eccentricities of character and worldliness..? But I realized later, after getting back to the city, there was something I received from the meeting with Bob that I had been searching for – but did not know it. There was a feeling – possibly some kind of past life feeling, a knowingness, a familiarity of having known Bob for longer… I felt an incredibly deep sense of relief, liberation.. And peace. I realized a lot of this life stuff I was overthinking, and really – everything has happened for a good reason… Despite all the madness in the world, happiness can be here and now – there’s so much mystery and beauty if we only look, and theres no need to be afraid..
The Outsider artist
“I think the fact that we’re alive at all and living in a human body, and the fact that we were even born, and the fact that there’s a whole planet of people that genuinely don’t even know what they’re doing here… I mean, that’s inspiring by itself..
A lot of inspiration from Alaska, and a lot of inspiration from walking up through the Guatemala jungles and in the Yucatán, and looking at doing Mayan archaeology, excavating in East Africa on the Kalambo Falls.
And I genuinely think everyday in your life you should push your mind a little bit further.. So a lot of this artwork is about looking at the trees and the plants and the shapes, looking at fractal geometry in the Fibonacci theorem and things like that… Things which appear naturally in nature.. Sort of a means where I can look at nature, and try and work out a bit about myself.
I remember at 6 years of age I asked my mother, I said “why, why, why am I living in this body? I don’t think I belong in there, I think I belong somewhere else?” She was shocked that a 6 year old kid would ask a question like that, and I was shocked that my mother could not give me the answer and nor could my father. And later on all the skills and the institutions, and the sterile societies, you know, and all those people.. They don’t really know why we’re alive either… So.. I think we’re lucky that we’ve got a mystery to think about…
I suppose I’d probably be called like an Outsider Artist… An Outsider Artist is someone that does something against every possibility, takes on all sorts of risks.. You do it because you’re driven by your spirit. If you’re true to yourself, you have to follow your spirit.
So i’ve wandered through the Himalayas, Tibetan monasteries, Hindu temples, been living in Islamic mosques at times, with primitive people in the jungle. I’ve tried to find the answer, I’ve been looking all my life, but I think life is whatever you think it is. I mean, what are you? You are what you think you are….” (Boinga Bob and His Very Unusual House, United Natures Media, Youtube interview, 15/10/2009)
“Somehow I made this building that attracted all these people… I worked on it for a bit over 20 years, it was in the 70’s… Suddenly it’s on television, it was on the front cover of Owner Builder magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, 7 News, 9 News, I did my first TV show with Burke’s Backyard… All the people were coming up here, the tourists – it was good for Warburton and everyone liked it… For 30 years, the Yarra Ranges Council, which i’m very grateful for – nobody put their nose in here, they didn’t trouble me at all, because I was promoting tourism. And I’m still promoting tourism.. I’ve had several heart attacks.. So physically I can’t do what I used to do…
I’ve nearly died several times, but I’m still here…
I’ve been very inspired to make things here, and fortunately I’ve been encouraged by the council for many many years, and that used to be in the good old days…” (Boinga Bob, Yarra Ranges LIFE TV – “Boinga Bob’s” Sculpture House Warburton, Youtube, 08/08/2017)
Interestingly, it wasn’t until after I had met Bob that I had come across several other articles and news clips surrounding him and his home in Warburton. I was extremely concerned and moved to know of Bob’s story, after having undergone a hip replacement and open heart surgery, surviving several heart attacks, as publicized by Herald Sun newspaper, “Yarra Ranges Council admitted last year there was no planning permit for Robert “Boinga Bob” Prudhoe’s Tibetan-inspired house and it could be demolished if improvements were not made.” (Boinga Bob’s famed Warburton treehouse still in limbo after safety, planning concerns were raised, Herald Sun online, 04/02/2017)
A growing community of people have come together to try and help Bob and there are regular working bees inviting people to come and help out around the place, as well as accepting donations for the ongoing funding required to maintain and prevent the local council from demolishing it.
“The council’s been giving me a hard time, but it’s nice to have these lovely people to come on board.. We all need to have our artwork, because artwork – it’s a savior of humanity.. Artwork can be mathematical modeling, it can be mosaics, it can be architecture, pushing your mind beyond the beyond to make known the unknown. Everyday of our life it’s good to go a little bit further…” (Boinga Bob’s Mad Capped Home, United Natures Media, Youtube interview, 31/01/2014)
Witnessing Bob’s beautiful home and artworks inside it was a deeply emotional and creatively inspiring experience, for the lack of better words. It was as though a high pressure valve had been opened in this meeting and I felt a strong and overwhelming sense of love and gratitude by simply being in the space, and Bob was there to guide me through it – and my already crazy head was flooding with creative possibilities. Scenes which I thought only existed in my dreams were flashing through my mind, and I knew I had to share this experience by doing a collaboration with Bob, showcasing other Australian creative talent. So I hesitate to call it a fashion editorial.. For me, it was more like creating scenes from dreams… Bob understood and responded warmly to the intensity of my creative intent which I was very open with him about that first day we met. With little time left before going back to India, I am forever grateful to Bob and a team of extremely talented creatives who came together to help me bring this idea to life. Please enjoy “The Outsider” – a collaboration featuring the artwork of Boinga Bob.
Through this collaboration, I hope that it will encourage others around the world to visit Bob’s place and perhaps help spread the message of his ongoing battle to preserve his home and the inspiration it gives to all its visitors.
We invite you to join the Facebook group Save Boinga Bob’s House www.facebook.com/groups/230503323797028 to know more, and or help out digitally by making a donation here www.gofundme.com/boinga-bobs-house-restoration.
Words by Boa Campbell.
Photography by Boa Campbell / www.boacampbell.com / Instagram: www.instagram.com/boacampbell
Styling by Kristie Klein www.kristieklein.com.au / Instagram: www.instagram.com/stylebykiss
Model is Ava signed at The Mgmt / Instagram: www.instagram.com/avalution www.instagram.com/the.mgmt
Make up by Ben Dniprowskij / www.bendniprowskij.net / Instagram: www.instagram.com/bendniprowskij
Hair by Phoenix Ly signed at Duval Agency / Instagram: www.instagram.com/duval.agency / www.phoenixly-hairstylist.com / Instagram: www.instagram.com/phoenixly.hairstylist
Location with many thanks to Boinga Bob and his art & home, Warburton, Victoria, Australia