Whenever there is a drought or a cyclone or a fire or a flood somewhere here in Australia (which is often), the television news will run a story featuring footage of (depending on the disaster) dry paddocks with cracks in the dirt, uprooted trees, smoke-reddened skies or a car being swept away in an overflowing river. And usually there will be a piece on struggling farmers and their devastated crops. I’ve seen stories on ruined apple crops, banana crops, pineapple crops, strawberry crops, watermelon crops, cherry crops and orange crops. But never pears.
Are pear trees magically protected from natural disasters? Are pear farmers all evil people who deserve no sympathy? Not as far as I know. So why the lack of destroyed pear tree news stories? Pears just aren’t cool enough. That’s the only explanation.
Television shows, including the six o’clock news, are run for profit. They rely on sponsors; they have to broadcast stories that entertain. So when it comes to fruit trees, the networks will go for the most popular. Apples? Sure, everyone likes apples. Bananas? Always a ratings-grabber. But pears? People reach for the remote. Sure, they’re tasty, but they just don’t have pizzazz. The pear farmers need help as much as the watermelon and cherry guys, but if they want to be heard in this celebrity-worshiping age, then pears need a major image makeover.
Let’s be real, pears are never going to be as physically appealing as apples, but that’s okay—not every Hollywood actor is a Brad Pitt type. Oranges lack chiselled features, but they stay popular by using their fun, upbeat vibe in an Adam Sandler way. Cherries are darker, and seasonal, like Daniel Day-Lewis. Bananas are goofy yet versatile—Bill Murray. Pears just need to find their niche. I think they could make it as a Tom Hanks. They have the quality and consistency, and if they added to that a friendly, approachable feel, I think that would really set pears apart from the other fruits, many of which, let’s be honest, come across as aloof.
For this painting I tried to show pears as easy-going, yet with a depth of character, the kind of fruit that would be as comfortable and capable in the lead role of Big as it would in the lead role of Philadelphia. I think it gives that impression.
Can one painting change the public perception of a fruit? I don’t know. But the next time a flood destroys rural Australia, I hope it’s the pear farmers we see on T.V..
16″ x 20″ Acrylic on canvas
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