Sydney’s oldest teenager pairs up with young Irish singer/songwriter
In the Sixties, Jon Hawley had Sydney’s most acclaimed boutique design studio in Rushcutters Bay, whose stable of artists included a young Ken Done. Sixty years on, this 85 year-old Kings Cross character wins bets about his age and is still inspiring the city’s young artists. The young Irish singer/songwriter, Anthony McKeon, notorious round the Bondi area, loved Jon’s work and magic happened... Most would’ve retired by his age, but Jon has just released an intriguing little book, Pithy Pussy, under the name of Jon Lemon, with tongue-in-cheek comments on the ‘feline’ in the female in pithy verse and with illustrations of cute cats. Anthony then recorded the song ’Pithy Pussy’ while Jon created cat animations for the video which shows them walking through Kings Cross and ‘picking up’ six saucy, Sydney ladies.
Jon and Anthony are now a creative team and the book, CD and video was released this week. “I’ve always knocked about with young people,” says Jon. “That’s what keeps me young. It used to be 20-30 year-olds but now more 25-40 year-olds. I still meet lots of glamorous young friends for coffee and fun practically every night of the week and I frequent jazz and cool music gigs...never a dull moment!”
Such is eternal youth for Sydney’s oldest teenager who also designed the Bankcard logo and has a permanent installation in the Mitchell Library foyer. Now he’s embarked on a new career, still preferring not to take the pension.
It all began for Jon as a bare-foot kid in Randwick in the 1930 depression-years. His favourite time, though, was the Beatles and Flower Power era. He had the first t-shirt parties, where they’d all design and print their own shirts. The star of the parties was his employee, Ken Done, then fresh from Sydney Tech. Jon says, “He was and still is an amazing talent ahead of his time, almost too innovative for clients in those days. Jon now lays claim to being the only man who gave Ken a job for£20 a week which increased to£40 by the time he left to free lance three years later. As Jon aged, he continued to inspire budding young artists. After a stint in Europe and the bush, he owned a three-level sandstone terrace on Stanley Lane next door to Bill andTony’s Italian Restaurant.
“I’d have a plethora of visitors every day and adventures I could write a book about,” he says. ”and that’s still happening!” Even after moving into a ‘shoebox with a million dollar view’, he decided to keep working. At the ripe age of 81, he started writing pithy poetry and has been reciting pithy poems every week on Eastside Radio FM 89.7 and performing ever since.