First published on 30 Jul 2012. Updated on 30 Jul 2012.
"I dunno whether you know my history. I'm a card-carrying member of the Labor party, the Greens and the Shooters party. I paint too but mostly I like to go bang bang.
"I live in the bush of the Blue Mountains and when I’m not painting I hunt whenever I can. I shoot feral cats, pigs, rabbits, foxes. Generally we go out and have some fun most weeks, lighting a big campfire. Sometimes Chopper [Read, with whom Cullen collaborated on the children’s book, Hooky the Cripple
in 2002] comes with me. I’m his best man, but strangely, out of Chopper and me, I'm the better shot. He has terrible aim, Chopper. I think he gets too close.
"I'm a taxidermist in my spare time. This photo is of me with an echidna pelt fresh out of the tanning bath. I found it by the side of the road and now it’s on my wall. Hunting, tanning and stuffing animals is a hobby I've pursued for about 25 years now so I guess it's too fucking big to be called a hobby. It’s not an art, no, but I’m very passionate about it. I've got skins all over the floor – kangaroos, wild pigs, foxes, echidnas.
"I might include at this point that everything I do in life ends up as an exhibition. Right now I'm working on a series of paintings on criminals. They're probably crims you don't know. One is a skinhead who’s been inside prison for nine years and only got out last week. He's got an IQ of 160 and is absolutely mad. My kind of bloke.
"I've just finished a big mural of the boxer Les Darcy. He’s got his gloves up because Les is a great Irish Catholic like me. How staunch a Catholic am I? I wanted to fight for the IRA but my parents literally dragged me off the plane. True story. Too bad, because I hate Poms. I'm as anti-Crown as can be. I'd hunt that Anglican bastard John Howard if they let me.
"Basically my life is simple: I paint and I fuck and I hunt and I drink.
"When I drink, I drink with my friends and as Irish Catholics who drink whenever they can, we stick to Jamesons whisky and vodka plus Guinness. When I hunt I hunt better liquored up. It feels great to blast off with a bellyful. After I've shot whatever animal it is, I skin the beast and tan them. Then I eat them. I had a dog that ate the meat with me but I recently had to put him down. We were very close, Growler and I. He was an Irish Border collie and he lived 13 years - not bad for a hunting dog.
"I love to paint. but it's much nicer to go bang bang. I like the smell of gunpowder more than I love the smell of paint. Most of all I love the smell of the motor of my '57 Holden FC. I've had it eight years now and it's gorgeous, a two-tone half-purple, half-white station sedan where every bolt and nut is authentic 57. I swapped it for a painting I did of the Rat Pack.
"I've painted with blood. Last year I painted with the blood of the NSW Waratahs rugby team. I got little vials of their blood and mixed it with paint. Mostly though I spend a lot of time thinking about a painting beforehand, weighing a canvas, almost stalking it. Then I attack and work fast.
"I was born in Sydney, up on the northern beaches, and I lived in Leichhardt for many years, but these days I only come to town once a month. Truth be known I hate Sydney. It's the people that stink most. At night it can be alright but during the day it's intolerable. I’m better off up here. You’re better off too. So is my art."