Category Archives: Australian Culture

Plundered & Broken

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The tale of Aboriginal plunder is a never-ending ballad that sings in the winds of this great country, a land that Elea (Albert) Namatjira painted so lovingly in watercolour. Namatjira’s world-renowned artistic status may have provided him with a thin shield against racism but it was easily shattered, even his greatness, wealth and innocence could not protect him from incarceration.

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Namatjira surrounded by family as he painted

The legend begins when Artist , Rex Battarbee took a painting trip into the Outback, after returning from the devastation of War in the 1930’s. He met Namatjira and it was through their collaboration that the 30-year-old Aranda man learnt to paint and exhibit. They went onto become lifetime friends, able to see pass the bigotry of the day.

International success took this humble man to great worldly heights, he was awarded the Coronation Medal and was the toast of the town. His exhibitions sold out shortly after they opened and most kitchens had one of his reproductions on a calendar or tea towel.

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Before the 1967 Referendum, Australian Aboriginals where denied Human Constitutional Rights and were categorised as part of the wildlife or wards of the state. They were denied most basic human rights and in an insipid twist of irony could not own their land as it had been acquired by the Commonwealth.

Namatjira’s unprecedented rise on the world stage would require him to have a passport and his growing wealth attracted taxes, thus him and his wife Robina were given Australian citizenship  in 1957, enabling him to buy a house in Morris Soak .

Unfortunately his children were not granted citizenship and were regarded as ‘Wards of the State’ as all Aboriginal people were. They did not have the right to choose their marriage partner, be legally responsible for their own children,to change location or socialise with non-aboriginals. It also meant that when the Great Artist and his wife died the Legal Will that aimed to financially protect their children was made void as his children belonged to the state. Their financial copyright royalties were ‘acquired’ by the state and sold on.

The Namatjira Project  began as an objective to buy back the royalties (which will expire shortly) but has become a legal investigation.

The most moving part of the film is when Namatjira’s  homeless grandson gives his artwork to the Queen in her palace and walks away empty-handed. The documentary is a thoughtful journey, full of beautiful archives and an artistic vision, they tip toe over a mine field but I think they have let off a bomb.

*Due to the humane efforts of The Namatjira Project, the Royalties have been returned.

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April Forward

 

The Namatjira Family continue the water-colour tradition as their cultural inheritance.

 

 

THE NAMATJIRA PROJECT

DIRECTOR & CINEMATOGRAPHER Sera Davies

PRODUCER

Sophia Marinos

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Julia Overton

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS (CULTURAL)
Lenie Namatjira
Gloria Pannka

Countdown Star

 

 

Renee Geyer

Australian jazz and soul legend, Renee Geyer has maintained a career that has spanned over 40 years. Her resonating voice has withstood the revolving door of the season and carved itself into a shaft of solid talent. She sprouted in the days of Countdown  under the wing of Mollie Meldrum, when Australian Music was finding itself in the awkward 70’s. Since then she has performed with Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder and Caka Kahn.

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Renee Geyer interview by Molly Meldrum on Countdown

‘Heading in the Right Direction’ was the cornerstone of her International rise in R & B circles despite her Australian origin. Her powerful raspy sound demanded renown and in 2005 Geyer was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame.

‘Renée Geyer had started out a sensual blues belter. Now she has evolved into a bona fide music icon’

  Norman Gunstan interview Geyer at end of act

The further one digs into the Artist’s rise, Melbourne’s musical roots are unearthed and reveal its early adolescence. The heavily populated music scene that is bursting through the internet daily has replaced the sleepy town that waited a week to watch 30 minutes of Countdown on the ABC, for the latest music news.

The unbridled talent of the local star walks hand-in hand with her controversial mentions in the news, from careless driving to public tantrums, she is a formidable Melbourne force.

Sat Aug 5;  8pm – MEMO Music Hall St Kilda  7.30pm, 

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HELPING LOCAL FAMILIES

donate@stkilda.org

 

 

What to Do?

As the last veil of sunshine and warmth left our streets at the end of June, a shadow fell like doom and cast us into our beds with flu’s. June was invigorating, July is dismal. Fortunately there is the The Tour De France to remind us of a Summer, somewhere.

Sorting through the closet each morning to find something warm to wear is challenging and reduces the rotating option to the point where black is best. There is nothing more unnerving than looking out of the window, before heading out, and seeing the trees twisted over by the wind. For bike riders, it tests endurance.

During Summer people proclaim winter is great as you can rug-up, mmmm, wind and hail are stronger. In the sunny season, they say, it’s cosy in front of a fire, mmmm, who has an open flame? They say it’s easier to get warm than get cool, mmmm, my bedroom is an ice machine.

What to do?

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The Clever ones are exploring Central Australia, cruising the Islands or flying North. For those that forgot to book the early-bird airfares there are a few local options.

Option 1. Head to the snow, you can buy bus day-passes at Southern Cross railway station, on your way home from work.

Option 2. Do Christmas in July, make it fun.

Option 3. Book a ticket on the ferry to Tasmania, be fearless.

Of Course, there is football.

On that happy note, be brave, drive carefully and buy orange juice.

 

 

April Forward

 

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Editing & Document writer

The Man who United our Nation

The Lonely Hero

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Lionel Rose was unaware of the National Pride that he had evoked. When the plane landed back in Melbourne in 1968, thousands of well dressed white people cheered from the tarmac and balconies to welcome home the Aboriginal Star. A convertible was parked awaiting his arrival.

” Who are all these people waiting for ?” Rose asked the Air-hostess. He thought that maybe a The Beatles had arrived at Essendon Airport.

“You” she replied.

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Lionel Rose was a National Boxing Hero after he won the Bantamweight Title by beating Masahiko ‘Fighting’ Harada, the Japanese Champion in Tokyo.

People had sent gum leaves over to Japan in support of the young boxer.

Lionel Rose was propped up at the back of the convertible so that the roaring crowd could get a good look at him and shake his hand as he passed. A ticker-tape parade down Swanston Street had been arranged, and the street was lined with 100,000 Melbournians, cheering the Aboriginal man. He went on to become The Australian of the Year in 1968.

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Aboriginal people had been granted Australian Citizenship in 1967 which meant that Rose could obtain a passport, buy land and obtain legal rights. The constitutional Referendum, to allow Aboriginals rights, was voted in favour by 90.77 of the population, on the 27th of May. Rose won the Title on 26th of Feb, which meant that the 19-year-old had been an Australian Citizen for 9 months. Rose was a Celebrity for both Aboriginals and Caucasians, when the fight against racism was still on shaky turf.

Rose was the first Original Australian to be named Australian of the Year. When accepting the award, he said;

“One hundred and eighty-two years ago one of my mob would have been a dead cert for this.” (www.australianoftheyear.org.au)

RECONCILIATION WEEK May 27 – June 3

The Top Ten

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For some it’s an annual 4 day Autumn weekend, mass exodus to the coast.

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For others, it is the EXODUS

It’s that Holy time of the year for Jews and Christians, Passover and  Resurrection rituals reminding the faithful of a power stronger than death. Revolutionary leaders such as Martin Luther King and Gandhi have drawn from these ancient beliefs to alter the fate of the future. The original set of Commandments were the moral compass for the refugees that were escaping slavery and dreaming of a better place.

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Moslems a branch of Abraham, Commandments: 1/47:19  2/14:35  3/2:24  4/62:9  5/17:23 6/5:32  7/17:32 8/5:38  9/2:283  10 20:131

Although Jews, Moslems and Christians are keen to point out their differences, the ‘top ten’ applies to them all.

1. CREATOR
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.”

2. NO IDOLS
“You shall not recognise other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.”

3. RESPECT
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

4. SATURDAY
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant, your animal or your stranger within your gates.”

5. PARENTS
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

6. KILLING
“You shall not murder.”

7. CHEATING
“You shall not commit adultery.”

8 THEFT
“You shall not steal.”

9. SLANDER
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

10. ENVY 
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools” Matin Luther King

For Christians there was an add on.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“The true measure of any society is how it treats it’s most vulnerable members” Gandhi

http://www.antislavery.org.au

Contemporary, Alive & Faster

The Australian Ballet presents new original work from current Choreographers that explore dance within our contemporary setting. The three acts are Faster,Squander and Glory and Infra.

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There are no tutu’s , all are stripped down, very physical performances with strong male leads and a sense of urgency.

” I love the story telling and its ability for anyone to create their own interpretation and take away a unique experience.” Kevin Ho

INFRA

The richness and pain of life takes place behind closed doors in our most intimate spaces. The drama of being unfolds, between the gaps of daily life. The ‘must do’s’ have no time for the intimate condition. The ‘must do’, is the daily travel to the daily toil. The other stuff is the real us.

English Choreographer Wayne Mc Gregor of the The Royal Ballet, explores the intimate in contrast to the business of life. As rich and deep as our lives are or are not, we dwell within a larger context . Those that fall out of the ‘infra’-structure, fall alone.

The ballet explores social and political content in dance, yet it is deeply sensual. There is a tribal call away from the world  into the instinct. The male soloist that stands in for that call, is memorable in its power.

SQUANDER AND GLORY

Both Australia and Melbourne can be glad to boast of a choreographer as creative and insightful as Tim Harbour. Like INFRA, Harbour seems to be exploring the complexity of intimacy and power. Kevin Ho’s structure appears like a sculpture but looms as much more. The dancers sway to the cult of obedience as though the monument dominates them.

“The negative spaces that surround me…an instinct to carve out those shapes” Harbour

Visually every aspect of the work is sculptural, even the music seems to be in the act of carving. Every muscle in the dancers bodies seems to have been used to create texture, using light and shadow to enhance the effect.

FASTER

Faster opens the triple bill, created in 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games, choreographer David Bintley recreates the drama.The Games are the ultimate statement of giving up everything to be first. To place it last rewinds us to how we got there. Faster, Greater and Better? How much  personal ambition does it take to be a winner.

The dancers within Bintley’s work interchange into human and non-human parts. They may  be a spinning disc or an abstraction of an ego. It explores the outer and inner world of the athlete, the frustration and self-abasement to the harmony of the work coming together within a united self.

This Triple Bill offers contemporary Ballet lovers, a physical. emotional and creative journey. They are raw and sensual Ballet’s that allow the dancers to explore new physical boundaries of space and movement.

Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre Mar 17-27

Sydney Opera House, Joan Sutherland Theatre Apr 7-26

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Ballet Coaching

Jane Moore’s Ballet Academy

Full & Part-time Coaching 0457 13 13 20 http://www.janemooreballet.com.au

Photo’s and article by April Forward.

Beyond the Pale

Australia Day tribute:

“It’s always been about sharing stories, identity loss and grief, determination , imagination , self belief, cultural integrity, hope and justice, reliance , cultural pride, and more than anything it’s about my people’s survival of spirit.” Hill

Noongar woman, Sandra Hill was a stolen Aboriginal child that was forced into foster care at the age of seven by the Australian Government due to the Assimilation Policy that was still active in 1958. Four children were removed from their mother’s house, they included her self , her two sisters and a brother. They were the 3rd generation of children removed from this family line.

‘In 1994 Hill  was employed as the Aboriginal Community Cultural Officer. During this period she applied for, and was awarded, a Creative Development Fellowship from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. This afforded her the time to carry out research relating to her life experiences as a member of the Stolen Generations’ (extract from Design & Art Australia on-line)

Hill’s work is held in many private collections and is also represented in Major Art Galleries throughout Australia, currently her mixed media work “Beyond the Pale’ is on display at the NGV Ian Potter Gallery at Federation Square in the Australian Art Exhibition. She explores domestic labor as part of the ‘Assimilation Project’.

In the past, Domestic colleges were set up to train poor white girls and ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal children to attend to the needs of the wealthy.

‘In the early issues of Home Beautiful there was a feeling of nostalgia for the passing of an age in which almost everyone in the middle and upper classes could afford to keep a live-in maid. Even at the turn of the century , architects and designers were discussing the ‘servant problem’ and trying to come up with ways to help women face a future without servants’ The Australian Home Beautiful, from Hills Hoist to High Rise.

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NGV

 

 

ref: page 73, Household Help: The Servant Problem. The Australian Home Beautiful  from Hills Hoist to High Rise  Hardie Grant Books Oliver J.

Melbourne Tourist tips

For warm weather the best time to come to Melbourne is between November and April. The winters may not be as harsh as Europe or Canada but Australia is not built for cold weather, it is a beach culture. Houses are poorly insulated and the southerly winds will cut through a thin coat. Melbournians wear layers because random weather changes are expected.

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Summer, long weekends and Easter

When the sun is out the locals are basking. There is a mass exodus to the coast in January, Easter and Public Holidays, if your planning an Ocean Road tour during these times book early. Bayside beaches fill up and most Tourists head for St Kilda but South Melbourne and Brighton Beaches are more relaxing.

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Inner city Melbournians, get up early on Saturdays and have breakfast together in Cafes, the best places fill up quickly. On a hot afternoon, the South Melbourne market has  great outdoor seating under a large golden canopy, enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and a glass of wine. Expect to eat dishes from all over the world, each new flood of settlers has brought their food culture with them and each gets its day in the spotlight. Currently everything is ‘infused’ with something Asian.

If the weather turns foul, which means the ‘cool’ (freezing) change came early, head to the NGV Gallery at Federation Square and take in some Australian Art. The City is proud of its Artists but Sport is given most sponsorship. The Art is world-class but under promoted.

The Docklands is a relatively new development with ‘state of the art’ architecture, just behind the Southern Cross Station on Spencer St. It has a futuristic opulence , a skating rink and the Southern Star.

Trains and trams are the main form of transport and very well mapped, it’s easy to follow.The MYKI card works for locals but is not visitor friendly as you have to buy it to get around. Transport inspectors can be a bit intimidating so it’s important to get one. Currently the City has all night transport on Friday and Saturday nights.

Great places for dinner are Smith, Gertrude and Brunswick Streets in Fitzroy. It’s a fabulous block of ambitious ambiance. A historical area where hustlers and artists have had ‘their day’. but currently it is urban cool.

Melbourne has great theatre but if you want to catch a local act for under $30, after dinner there are some quaint venues; The Butterfly Club, La Mama, The Owl and Cat and The Meatworks, (just to name a few) are close to town and have their own character.

Bars are numerous and many are tucked into the lane network that are the life beat of the town, most often decorated with great Street Art. Roof top bars are great on hot nights but most places have outdoor heating when it’s not great.

The highlight of Summer is the Australian Open and the best place to watch it is at Federation Square in a sun-chair. Despite Australian pride of designer beer and class wine most public places are dry. On New Years Eve drinking is banned on public Bayside beaches so cancel the beach party.

Melbourne was once called the ‘Garden State’ as we like our trees. When its too hot for the beach there are great Botanical gardens and the Ripponlea Estate offers shade and a cafe. The changeable weather has created a fashion consious culture and there are plenty of shopping strips and malls to cater for discerning tastes or a bargin.

Summer essentials are thongs and light coat. We all talk about the weather; we complain when it’s hot and when it’s cold. It is so unpredictable it is treated with suspicion.

A typical conversation.

“Its going to be hot on Thursday”

“I’ll believe it when I see it”

Australia’s patchy history

1800-1950

It’s fascinating to imagine that female convicts on ships to Australia, were sewing beautiful quilts. They were leaving heavily populated cobble streets and embarking on a tour into the wild unknown.It was a place where currency was rum, women were few and some unthinkable dark terrors took place.The unfree made free and the free made unfree.

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The Rajah Quilt

This quilt was created by the women on board the Rajah in 1841, they were taught by  Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker reformer.

‘The Australian quilting tradition developed in response to a unique set of factors that sets it apart from other quilting traditions internationally.’ NGV

There was the odd sailor that picked up a needle and thread and made his own quilt.

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unknown artist

This example is a work of Art, an intricate geometric design, with a contemporary feel. The beauty of the quilt is that it is also functional. The time poured over the work creates a meditative element that transfers an emotional or spiritual quality to the work.

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During WW1 and WW2, ‘quilts were a means of rallying support’.

To this day, some churches still create quilts to place over the unwell. The quilt can also serve as an historical piece, recording the members of a congregation, club or school.

Some stitched a bit of wisdom to guide the next generation.

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The Westbury Quilt  1900-03

The charming Westbury quilt was created by a Tasmanian family, it was intended to be a raffle prize. Its a mix of British domestic influence and Australiana.

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Mariann Gibson Crazy Quilt 1891

Others competed to be the ‘craziest’ of the ‘crazy quilt’ fashion, that was the sewing movement at a time, when European Art was shaking off the shackles of the past. The British settlers had no cultural roots in Australia, they could push the boundaries of traditional Arts.

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The Goodnight Quilt by Mary Jane Hannaford

 

Some caught the eye of the galleries to be immortalised. Mothers often sewed quilts for their children or were given to them by a loving friend or family member. Mary Jane Hannford’s ‘Goodnight Quilt’ was made for her 11 year old grandson.

‘The subject matter of Hannafords quilt includes patriotism, religious faith, the love of Australian wildlife and the marking of key family events’

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Nursery Quilt Artist unknown

Some works were sewed roughly, not for beauty or art but for warmth. The gathering of discarded clothes, recycled into a rug. The perfect art for Depression and War when materials are few and patience is limited.

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Wagga

‘real rag bag waggas, hessian bags or patchwork-covered army blankets, but still rich in the memories embedded in their cloth.’ Annette Gero

It’s a pictoral exploration into our past, through fabric. Mostly, but not exclusively a womens history. Sewing groups were also social and community acts. It’s an engaging exhibition.

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Inserts from NGV
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until Nov 6

Dressmaker at Ripponlea

The Dressmaker exhibition at Ripponlea Estate is a great excuse to experience the opulent lifestyle of the very rich, in a past era.

The house, as grand as it is, is rather gloomy. It took party girl Louisa Nathan, daughter and heiress of the Mapels fortune, to bring it into the swing of the early new Century. A fit setting for ‘Tilly’s inspirations.

The pool , the tennis court and the new Deco Ballroom with a reinforced floor, built to withstand Charleston vigour was and remains, a perfect party venue.

The house was designed by Architect Joseph Reed, he also designed the State Library and the Royal Exhibition buildings. The sprawling pleasure gardens that incorporate a lake and secret paths, was the brainchild of the original owner, Frederick Sargood. With the help of 40 men, they created a personal vision of paradise that is now a peaceful public retreat, in the midst of suburbia and chaotic traffic.

The lush setting of the estate is in stark contrast to the butchered landscape of Dungatar yet essentially, both reject the wild beauty of the original bush.

The Cinderella effect that the character Tilly waves over the unworthy, beautifies the wretched, with imported fabrics and designs. In the early part of the last Century, Australians looked to Europe for the lead in Fashion, Architecture and Art.The early settlers had not found their own voice or local patronage.

“She transforms all the women from drab to Fab” Rebecca Gibney.

 

“In particular, for this film the costume is everything, most incredible dresses in my career, we start off with a palette of brown, grey and dull…’she’ (Tilly played by Kate Winslet) brings in the wealth of colour” Marion Boyce

The exhibition features designs by Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson. Wilson was the main designer for Winslet and Boyce moulds the town folk.

 

Exhibition until July 31

 

A.Forward

Melbourne’s Modern Renaissance

During war years, the Melbourne art scene dragged itself away from the safe bush scenes and began making social comments through expressive art. Urban hardships were the realities of the day, and the war brought home Surreal experiences. The struggle for survival opened up a marginal void, that the new bohemia were ready to fill. Eccentric aristocrats  were the lifeblood of Melbourne Artists during the new Modern Movement. There were two major camps that drew in the cream of new art. The Reeds established a shelter for artists at Heide, in Heidelberg and Meric Boyd’s ‘Open Country’, in Murrumbeena, challenged the status quo.

Both had an open door policy for emerging artists; Meric Boyd built a kiln on the property and encouraged his children to be active in the hub that gathered there. The kiln would eventually fire-up Arthur Boyd and John Perceval’s, emotive and provocative sculptures.

Perceval;  The Acrobat Angel  : Boyd; 30 Pieces of silver

Boyd’s style grew in Open Country but manifested in the South Melbourne paintings. During the dark war years, he suffered from a depression.Like Perceval he saw the depravity of urban life and drew upon motifs that would be symbols to became part of his pictorial dialogue.

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Arthur Boyd the Ochard 1943

‘the man in wheelchair, the cripple on crutches, the tormented naked lovers, the beast, the chimney stacks and the gargoyles.’ Sasha Grishin

Boyd, Percival and Tucker explored the moral decline brought on by the American troops stationed in Melbourne, the work is strong.

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Albert Tucker Victory Girls 1943

The Reeds harboured Sidney Nolan as he avoided military duty and the Kelly series expressed his new outlaw status.Nolan was Sunday’s prize bull, she wanted Europe to embrace him, but the modern world rarely looked our way.

Joy Hester was coaxed and chastised by the wilful Sunday and she would occasionally slip over the river to the Boyd’s camp.  Tucker would have a love/hate relationship with the Heide crew, as his personal involvement with Hester intensified.Their Love Child Sweeny, brought Mike Brown into the brood during the later years.

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Joy Hester photo by Albert Tucker at Exhibition Gardens

The Reeds were determined for Melbourne to be the capital of figurative art and hoped to expel the growing appeal of the American movement of Abstract Expressionism.The 1959, Antipodean Exhibition drew in artists from other camps who signed and battled over the direction of Melbourne Art. John Brack supported the figurative art stance but withdrew from the show due to the politics. He had avoided the ‘hot-bed of art groups and shared a studio with his life long friend, and fellow artist Fred Williams.

 

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We,Us,Them 1983 Bracks comment on human behaviour

During the war years the Paris Art scene was kept in darkness. American Abstract Expressionists stole the limelight, it could have been the Australian figurative movement and for good or bad, it could have led world art into the heart of Melbourne. It was a radical and unique period in art history.

The other major art groups in early Melbourne were Dunmoochin which included Clifton Pugh and John Olsen. Montsalvat was set up by Justus Jorgensen and drew strongly from European influences, particularly in its architecture.The town was relatively young and most of the artists had studied and knew each other through the Gallery Art School.

Mirka Mora arrived in Melbourne, like many immigrants, her family was escaping the persecutions and atrocities of the war. Local artists frequented the Mirka coffee shop and Mora flirted between Heide and Open Country camps.She sewed a dress for Sunday and her children played amongst the Boyd’s kilns. She supported Joy Hester by exhibiting her on the café walls and as her families hospitality businesses grew, so did her presence as an Artist.

 

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     Mirka Cafe opening

Charles Blackman was a regular customer at Mora’s cafe, the family had a reputation for supporting and feeding local artists.Despite the energy and personal finances Art Patrons offered, the artists knew that they would have to leave Australia to further their careers. The public enjoyed modern housing,appliances and clothes but they were closed to new ideas and clung onto Colonial Art.

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Open Country at Murrumbeena

‘In 1963 after having achieved a degree of recognition and financial security, Percival and his family joined the general exodus of artists and left Australia.’ Sasha Grishin

Boyd had already moved his family to England. Open Country was torn down, to make way for a block of flats.

Heide Museum of Modern art is revisiting its roots.

MAKING HISTORY: THE ANGRY PENGUINS  

until Nov 6

ARTISTS AT LEISURE: ALBERT TUCKER PHOTOGRAPHS

until Aug 7

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Mirka Lane with St Kilda local

 

Banner Photo Athur Boyd butterfly Man 1943

John Brack NGV 2009; p156

Australian Surrealism and its Echoes NGV 2015; p70

The Heart Garden Sunday Reed and Heide Janine Burke Vintage 2004

Australian Art A History, Grishan S, The Miegunyah Press,2015; p333-347

street photo & article by A Forward

 

 

Still Here by Josh Muir, a White Night Sensation

Crowds gathered around NGV International on the crisp cool Saturday night, to enjoy the White Night projections. The mood was relaxed as the audience waited for the remains of the day, to become night.

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The projection used the entire space of the facade, a perfect blank canvas for award-winning artist Josh Muir. Emma Donovan and James Henry provided the haunting soundscape, it was a  flawless collaboration. Still Here was a visual feast with a political edge.

It began with a bird flying peacefully across the building, followed by an eruption of circular abstract formations, representing creation. The new scene was of Aboriginal men on the beach, with a catch, as the women sat in circles, chatting.

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On the horizon, crosses that symbolised the coming of a new culture, draw closer and a storm thunders down, closing the curtains on that era.

In the new scene ,the landscape is less sympathetic, however the newly clothed Aboriginal people continue on with family life. A white van drives down a road to a family sitting together. A white man comes out of the van and pulls the child away, the parents fight the intruder but they are over powered. The child is put into the van and  driven off. The mother wails as the father collapses with despair.

There is a shocked murmur in the audience.

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“They are taking the kids” is voiced throughout the  large gathering.

In the next scene City life has taken over, trams ‘ding’ and cars roar  by. It was a blatant statement. Muir was evoking the viewer through the power of Art. It was stunning.

‘I am a proud Yorta Yorta/ Gunditjmara man, born and living in Ballarat, Victoria. I hold my culture strong to my heart – it gives me a voice and a great sense of my identity. When I look around, I see empires built on aboriginal land. I cannot physically change or shift this, though I can make the most of my culture in a contemporary setting and use my art projects to address current issues of reconciliation.’ WhiteNightMelbourne

If you saw no other projection,  White Night Melbourne was a great success.

Reko Reno at Fed Square
Reko Reno at Fed Square

Other Aboriginal Artists represented on White Night Melbourne were Reko Reno at Federation Square and Pitch Makin Fellas, a group work at The Exhibition Buildings.

 

 

Trains, Planes & Automobiles, getting to the Grand Final

‘Welcome to Melbourne’

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The West have had a ‘hell of a time’ getting here.

Airfares have skyrocketed to the point that it is cheaper to go to Europe from Perth, than to Melbourne.Word on the street is that one of the airlines held back ticket sales for 2 weeks untill the final outcome was decided and then, the price hike. What to do?

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There is talk that many booked to go to New Zealand, because it was cheaper, got off at Melbourne and did not return to the flight.

Some flew via Bali and Singapore,they had a mini break and then arrived in Melbourne. It was cheaper than flying direct.

There are those that flew via Adelaide and Sydney, but the airlines caught on. Prices went up.

The rest drove. The Nullarbor Plain, not an interesting landscape, for 2 days it is as flat as a dead liner (and still another day to go).

Its a long way to come, to watch the West Coast Eagles lose bitterly to Hawthorns, Hawks.

Sunday Reeds contribution to Melbourne Art

When Sunday Baillieu walked out of  Toorak and into the arms of emerging Australian Artists, she forsook society to dwell with bohemia. It’s not easy, to move from one class to another within a single generation. The artists may have regarded her as bourgeois but her old neighbours had labeled her a communist. She was an idealist, a task master, a romantic and art critic. Heide was her home and she welcomed artists to reside there. IMG_3335

Sunday and John Reed championed major artists such as Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, Mirka Mora, Joy Hester, John Perceval, Albert Tucker, Moya Dyring, Sam Atyeo and Mike Brown. They founded the Angry Penguins Literary magazine in an effort to evoke a response from the disinterested city.

The Reeds supported and bought emerging Melbourne and Australian art. They were overly possessive of the artists they supported but they took their task seriously. They flew the flag for Australian Art and they paid for it with Baillieu cash.

Today the twisted path Melbourne artists walk is barbed with opportunists and a sleepy audience.

Melbourne’s current Art culture is in crisis. Galleries charge artists to exhibit and the costs are high, few artists can afford to pay the weekly $1000 costs and then the 20-40% commission. For those that can afford to pay ,there is no guarantee of an effective marketing strategy. Most exhibitions draw other artists and few attract genuine patrons. At the end of a two-week exhibition the gallery stands to make profits  even if no purchases were made. The artist is broke.

Australian artists rely on the generous support of  philanthropist, collectors and galleys that do not charge their talent to exhibit.

Albert Tucker talks about his time with Sunday Reed at Hiede.

The contemporary Australian family

Demographic information allows us to predict future trends so that town development, infrastructure and social needs are available for the next generation. It is also a fascinating peep behind the closed doors of our neighbourhood. Some of the results are surprising, for instance, if both of your parents are from an Anglo Australian background you are 80% more likely to marry into a different ethnic group.

imageAuthors of the text, Family Formation in 21st Century Australia, discuss changes that are taking place within the family format. They a Demographers and Sociologists attempting to interpret this complicated data through statistics. Ten Social Scientists explore separate themes and patterns that emerge from their research. The Editor Dr. Genevieve Heard and three of the authors Dr. Lindon Walker, Dr. Deb Demsey and Dr Kim Johnson talk to a small gathering of colleagues.

“This book tells the story of both continuity and change, it shows that Australians exercise considerable freedom of choice when it comes to forging pathways into creating families, but also that the tradition remains popular” Dr Heard claimed.

The traditional family has remained resilient in the first decade of the 21 Century, divorce rates have declined and many of these families are showing increased stability. Couples are more willing to marry than those of the previous Decade, however there are also the proliferations of new family styles. There is a rise in couples living together without formalising it through marriage. Latch relationships are also becoming more visible in the community; these are couples that live in separate households. These new types of families are co-existing with the traditional style however they are not replacing them. This mix within the community can offer a greater diversity.

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Dr Walkers field of study is inter-ethnic partnering, a study that continues to interest him as it crosses over multiple aspects that include religion, race and educational levels. The study required customised data and narrowing the field of research, as there are many difficulties, such as when are you considered Australian? Despite these complications some of the results are insightful and show that the longer an ethnic group resides in Australia the more likely they are to marry out of their community, as is the case with Italians and Greeks.

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Indians and Iranians tend to marry within their own community but future generations may change this trend. Some cross partnering is one sided, such as Asian women and Australian men, the reverse is less popular. The majority of children that are born from two Australian parents will marry into another ethnic group.

Dr Demsey changes the theme as she discusses same-sex families; this group has been forced to win family rights and recognition through activism, firstly for marriage rights and then for children. Demanding access to fertility clinics has been marred by political intervention such as when former Prime Minister Mr Howard defined the family as being made up of a male and a female parent.

“Every Australian child has the right to a mother and a father” former Prime Minister John Howard claimed.

Dr Demsey explains that a lot has changed since 2001 as lesbians have won the right to use sperm banks (male couples often choose surrogacy). Amendments to laws have also enabled single sex couples to live together with legal protection over property issues.

Many same sex couples have to endure aggressive attitudes within the community that puts them under pressure and destabilises the couple. They might be less likely to endure. Friendships often provide the care and support often found in family life. Nuclear family’s are not the norm and couples often live in separate households that they share with housemates. Marriage type relationships that provide monogamy appeal more to younger Gays and less so, to mature couples.

Dr Demsey draws information from studies and surveys conducted by universities. Same sex couple numbers have been increasing however it is uncertain if it is becoming more popular or that people are more comfortable in declaring it. Children that live with male couples are 5%, whereas 20% of women couples have residential children. Ironically most homosexual couples have heterosexual children.

Dr Kim Johnson’s interest was in the family studies of our Aboriginal community. Couple relationships are more common with younger adults. Within these unions, more urban Aboriginals and those with higher educations will partner outside of their community whereas rural couples and those with less education will choose an Aboriginal partner.

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Aboriginal Australians have a higher fertility rate than non-Aboriginals, however it is comparable with other world communities such as what was common during the 1950’s baby boom. The most definitive distinction is that the women are more likely to start their families at a younger age, 40% are under 25. Younger parenting means that the parent is likely to be more energetic and have the support of younger grandparents that will also pass on cultural knowledge. The negative aspect of young parenting is that they might have less access to further education, employment and wealth.

The family network ideally provides a place for people to feel safe and loved, this is even more important when young children are brought into these relationships. The new family is born from a society that is re-inventing itself and exploring alternative options. It is interesting to look at the changes within ones own family, such as having children at a later age, as this is a modern invention.