Saturday, December 30, 2006

Time Out in Melbourne

I skipped the cricket on Day 3 at Melbourne. The old chap went and came back full of woe after what turned out to be the final days play at Melbourne. He can't see how we can avoid defeat at Sydney now playing as we are. He reckons the only consolation is that we have been able to see the best Test Cricket team the world has ever seen, or is likely to see again. I couldn't actually avoid it altogether as there are big screens dotted around Melbourne.

I indulged myself by visiting Melbournes art gallerys - the National Gallery of Victoria - NGV International in St Kilda Road and the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square. Both were fabulous.

The International collection provides another facet of looking back at England, to what they considered important to collect on the other side of the world. Their applied arts were fascinating too, the European styles were sometimes mixed up so that a table would have a different style of legs say than the top would normally have and there would be different animals carved in the foliage etc all in unfamiliar woods. There were wonderful ceramics, Minton, enormous Denbeigh pieces and so on. The early pieces must have been really well packed to survive the arduous sea journeys made.

After lunch I took a free guided tour of the ultra modern building, The Ian Potter Centre, in Federation Square. It has been open for four years and is built over the main railway station. You could sometimes hear faint rumblings through the stone floors which were quarried in the Kimberley mountains.

We started in the Indigenous Galleries which were absolutely fascinating. Traditionally Aboriginal art was not portable in the way Western art is. It was painted on rock or on bodies for special ceremonial occasions; now there are bark paintings and other materials are utilised - cardboard, steel, wood etc.

Indeed the first items we came across in the galleries were necklaces - these were traditionally made by family groups out of locally found things, seeds, shells etc. collected at certain times of year. We saw the Tasmanian Greenos' beautiful shell and coral necklaces. This tradition has been picked up and used by Julie Gough whose nearby three big necklaces are hung like trophies on drifwood bracts that reminded me of gun racks perhaps pointing up a ying/yang, male/female thing going on. Because there are three they could be considered as a tryptych. They were called Lifebearer - made out of pumice. Drift - made out of drifwood and Seam - made out of coal.

The galleries have clusters of various poles, these are traditionally used for burials and still are, although the ones in the gallery were not as they are specially commissioned. They can take up to a year to make, the tree has to be cut just after the wet season then the outer is burnt before the intricate incisions are made.

Then we looked at the paintings and my head started spinning with detail of the earth pigments, iconic artists such as Rover Thomes, Walangkura Napananka, and many others. I hope to continue my dip into this completely different art, different perspective, different materials and so on, when we get back to Sydney.

We had tickets for the fourth day of cricket at Melbourne and will have to see about getting a refund. No cricket did mean we could look round this lovely city a bit more. The Docklands were visited, these are being developed. It is all new, not like the Rocks in Sydney, more like Canary Wharf in London! Then for lunch we went to St. Kilda which although it has a groovy café scene was a bit tatty and run down. I didn't want to spend much time on the pier or at the beach. We've been spoilt by the pristine beaches we have visited already and it is a nightmare to get to as there is a dual carriageway running along the seafront at the end of Fitzroy Street where most of the cafés are.

Now we are going to take it easy and stroll around the Botanical Gardens, maybe do a circuit or two of the Tan Track which encircles the lush green space in the centre of the city. We leave Melbourne tomorrow morning and head back to Sydney in time for a picnic while watching the New Year Eve fireworks. The theme this year is the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz!

More Julie Gough Links:
Colonialism and Its Aftermath
Her own site showing Lifebearer, Seam and Drift as one.


PMM&L said...

That'll be brilliant. R u going to be at Gadget man's for the view? Have fun whatever. Happy New Year when it comes. x

axx said...

It was absolutely awesome. I've uploaded a video but it is taking time to be processed so 've not been able to Blog it yet, but as soon as I'm able I'll do it.
Happy New Year to you all xxxx