Scenes from Truck Life

Interpretations of an overland trip across Africa

Title page

A whole different world

Stine has used satire to convey a perceived dichotomy between the two halves of George; but she cannot have been unaware of the irony that it is only the non-existence of this dichotomy that allows so satirical a comment to be made and to exist uncensored.

Quiet, boys

In a subtle and knowing reference to the makers of early films -- the German Expressionists in particular -- Bob has used blue ink to describe a night scene.

Bums away

The wildchild of the Truckist movement, always to be relied upon to challenge the mores of the bourgeois drawingroom, Claire M comments about this bosky scene: 'The perfect toilet stop is when no-one sees me giving my arse a good shake at the sky.'

Cook of the walk

This is what Francis imagined would happen when came to leave him at the Namibian border. His donkey cries, and the imprecations to Haile Selassie I are echoed mournfully by the group, all too aware of their new duties in the kitchen.

See you, Jimmy

The group was greatly distressed when Julie's tent was trampled by an elephant at South Luanga. Craig says he made this picture to help heal our collective pain, and signed it 'Sue' because that, co-incidentally, is the name he gives to his gentler, more feminine side.

Oranges are not the only fruit

Clare explains that she drew this picture of her sister Rosey so their parents could see how much she enjoyed the trip. It shows Rosey dancing with a Dutch traveller from another truck at Chitimba Beach. Rosey adds some further information about the subject: 'He used to be in the Dutch army until they said he wasn't allowed any more for shouting too much. When he had finished dancing with me, he took off his orange dress and went swimming.'

Marching on

Darren, who signs all his art with the word 'Doom', records a sun-hatted Iris triumphing over the ants that repeatedly invaded her tent. Note the symbolic use of one giant ant to represent all ants.

An inordinate fondness for beetles

Bob, too, was inspired by Iris. His illustration is less empowering and shows her stricken cries as the ants came closer and closer to her tent.

Three in a bed

Rosey says of her picture: 'Rob is an American and can do what he wants, which is why he joined a couple in their tent one night.' Rosey, who didn't witness the event, adds that people look like babies because of perspective; and she felt unable to do more than indicate with shading the outside of the tent, because the story only mentions the inside.

Brown-eyed handsome man

Clare and Julie collaborated to show why so many women prefer to remain single.

Fallen angel?

Louise illustrated herself skydiving. At first glance, this appears to be a representation of an adrenaline junkie's joyful experience of adventure sports. But perhaps this 'literal fall to earth' is a metaphor for the return to reality at the end of the trip, and one wonders if the figure's cry of 'I'm a bird' echoes the 'happy bird' in Stine's piece 'Cabin Humour'.

Bull elephant and dinner

Again, Craig has tried to heal the group's elephant-based trauma through illustrative representation. Here a rogue bull elephant attempts to steal dinner from the kitchen and is actively driven away by the group. Interestingly Craig has not chosen to sign this piece with the name 'Sue' as he has done in previous 'healing' pictures -- perhaps the pain stemming from this male elephant can only be fought by the artist's masculine side.

One for feminism

Clare has placed herself and Claire M in a familiar social situation and then added an element of fantasy -- the bra 'hats' -- in order to warn others of the indignities of excess alcohol.

Rain of terror

Rosey has used bold colours in this night scene represent the cohesion and espirite du corps that kept spirits high on a wet game drive.

Trolley dolly

Here, a story told by Anne-Dorte about Francis' brave attempt to do the shopping under trying circumstances is retold by Clare. Note that the contents of the trolley -- tomatoes, cucumber and bananas -- were staple foods for the group.


Mike wanted to show how he felt joining us at a later stage of the trip. The 'otherness' of Africa (and by extension the group) is expressed by the exotic Tafel beer sign and the hippo warning. The next cell shows that the expected hippos are subsumed by the night noises of the group. Which one, to the newcomer, is more exotic? The cryptic footer 'Dark side of the dune', suggests that we are not going to be told.

Losing ma breakfast

Craig, whose elephant-created-pain drawings will have been noted by attentive visitors, is the subject of this dyptic by Clare. He appears to be purging himself in a very public way -- perhaps the implication is that his crusade of healing is not without cost to his own health.

Rapid descent into chaos

Another watery picture from Rosey. This scene shows a triumphant rafting guide dancing on the bottom of his upturned vessel, his hapless team adrift in the turbid water. This image is a sharp contrast to the fortunes of the group on the truck, where their leaders do not take pleasure in steering so passengers are soaked, frightened, thrown out or lost altogether.

Disaster strikes

In this small but pleasing line drawing, Bob has depicted one of the more dramatic incidents on our journey. A tow cable smashes the windscreen of George as Wayne tries to pull a stricken coach (out of frame) off the road. Wayne's cry of 'kcuf ah' is possibly a private joke between him and the artist.

The rains came down and the floods came up

Elaine has chosen to document a piece of art -- a house built for her penguin Jean-Jaques on the beach. The parallels with the parable of the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and the wise man who built his house upon the rock are plain to see. Jean-Jacques patronises the arts, thus building his house upon the rock of civilised society, and prospers in the rain. But the group, who have elected to sleep in utilitarian tents, thus ignoring the cries of their souls for aestheic pleasure, are soaked.

Ladies present

Bob's red card collection has been illustrated by Rob. The cutaway setting -- this picture shows an impossible view of the back of George -- and the bold colours are surely an ironic nod to the damage done to free speech by such censorship.