Take a slab of meat, a sheet of metal and a good smoky fire and you've got yourself the ingredients not just for a top-rate meal but for an event. It's part tribal bonding, part ritual ceremony, part bare necessity. That's the Aussie barbecue: a back-to-basics, one-size-fits-all outdoor celebration.
In 'Meat, Metal & Fire,' author/photographer Mark Thomson investigates this Australian legend, revealing just what it is that makes the barbie sizzle. Marvels of backyard engineering are here, along with the people behind them. Whether it's a giant dragon cooker made from recycled tools and car parts, or a shovel stuck over a few burning sticks on the ground, the result is the same - the great Aussie barbie.
It doesn't really matter if you burn the chops. The beer may even be warm. What counts is that you are building on the legend of the Australian barbecue.
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Mark has lived in Adelaide all his life, where he gained a diploma in Fine Arts specialising in painting. He has worked as a set painter and designer for films and theatre, as a photographer and newspaper editor, and has played in bands and worked in the music scene.
He makes ends meet these days by writing and designing print material, specialising in social issues and ideas. Mark spends a lot of time hanging around his shed, repairing various bicycles and trying to avoid working on his computer. He runs a semi-mythical organisation known as The Australasian Institute of Backyard Studies (formerly the Shed Institute and the Barbecue University of Australia). Some of the Institute's investigations may prove to be the subject of Mark's future publications.
HarperCollins has published Blokes & Sheds and Stories From the Shed, both of which have been hugely successful. A diary and calendar has been produced for 1997, and will also be released for 1998.
Mark says of Blokes & Sheds, 'The book is an attempt to revalue the shed in Australian life: to explain that it plays a central and basically positive role in many men's lives. This book took more than four years to make and involved visiting more than 150 sheds.'
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