GOU PEI, Chinese Fabric Artist engineers her Masterpieces, stitch by stitch, bead upon bead, golden thread and a mantle of dreams inspired by an ancient past with dresses that would inspire the Pope. Her exhibit arrived in Melbourne, as precious as the Emperors Palace treasures and is located in the eye of the TRIENNIAL storm at the NGV.
If Melbourne wanted to grab a snatch of the Artistic cyclic pie, they are heading in the right direction. This show stopping art storm is fixated on capturing the Melbourne imagination with no expense spared, and this year it is free.
The journey starts and ends in the Moroccan coffee house but our focus is on the second floor, up the Reko Rennie elevator. From the Australian Aboriginal world, without excess to the pre-communist decadance, up the spine into the heart and soul of the human mind.
Pei claims her work denies what it succumbs to, human vanity. Heart, soul and creativity, with a barrage of craftsmen on the floor, and this has happened before, in Dynasties past, a royal glass slipper for the ball. Rhianna , contemporary Diva, herald in the Artist at the Met Gala, formally the Costume Institute Gala, in New York.
The NGV hive, houses the Queen in an exhibition that begins in a blaze of glory.
Like Michelangelo, one can imagine that she is ripe for Vatican success.
The NGV has gone wild, Curated by Simon Maidment’s team, a wonderland passing from one installation to another, a mind altering experience of Art.
As art-life drifts out of the fringe into the mainstream an unholy alliance bridges the gap between today and tomorrow. The current stream sedating, a war brewing.
Guo Pei couture
It’s an epic bombardment, a Cultural revolution in it’s full thrust of life bordering on the ruin of decadance. Ron Mueck explores the human condition and its vulnerability in the wake of God-like delusions.
‘Prior to the visit I had heard plenty of favourable comments and recommendations about MONA; surprisingly they were coming from a range of people varying from art lovers to people with typically little interest in the arts. This intrigued me on the lead up to the visit. After visiting the gallery I understand its broad appeal; it’s a place where enjoyment and the experience are placed as the ultimate priority over pretension. Before any art is viewed, visitors have already been captivated by fun from the roaming roosters, kids trampoline, boat ride (dependent on arrival method), Tasmania’s oldest vineyard and the spectacular and awe-inspiring architecture – it has already been a successful venture. From here on it’s all a bonus, but it continues to intrigue with atmospheric galleries that range from tight quirky spaces to vast open areas. The art itself is diverse in its appeal with a little something to tickle everyone’s interest.’ MONA Visitor
MONA is not what you would expect regardless of all you have heard. We took ‘the journey ‘ beginning on the historic Station Pier for a Bass Straight crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania. The large window portals in the cabins gave a haunting view of the black water peeling back into white foam as the ship cut into a calm night sea. We arrived on the chilly Devonport coast at 6am with a temperature of zero.
The road to the museum of OZ has a few enchantments on the early Spring morning that perpetuate the unfolding drama of the landscape. As a typical Melbourne crew we anticipated a home-grown cuisine and strong coffees at the next town, we were mistaken, as each village was merely half a dozen rooftops and no signs that pointed us to a cafe. We regretted not dropping into the All Nice Things Bakery that beckoned from the corner, with the signed promise of a warm breakfast, if we had have known that cafes were few and far between, we would have eaten and stocked up.
Rumbling stomaches and caffeine withdrawals aside ,the natural resplendent views that the winding roads were drawing us into, satisfied the Winter frayed mind. Each scene was vast and framed within majestic snow-capped peaks. Our first stop was within the heavily mossed rainforest of the Liffey Falls , a gushing river flowing into cascading waterfalls. This area was once heavily populated by the Pattittore Aboriginal people, they held their social gatherings there, on this day there was only our small group.
The second wonder on the journey was the ice stalactites along the roadside, rain that was petrified into a dripping beauty. A short journey onward and random clumps on snow begin appearing on the side of the road unfolding into an expansive snow field amongst the lakes. Naturally a snow fight ensued.
When we arrived at OZ, or rather MONA we were expecting a Glass City, not an old Vineyard, chooks and a small building set amongst outer shed like structures. It’s appearance is provincial, as though it was being considerate of the natural beauty that encased it. The real drama was yet to come.
Moody bar within deep bedrock
Gold coin cuppa
Mona is built into the ground, not above it. The evaluator takes us deep into her interiors and we arrive at the lower floor of a towering bedrock wall, flanked by a contemporary Bar at one end and a 50’s Tea Room at the other, passing by a waterfall of words.
The current exhibition is the The Museum of Everything and although Mona is a highly contemporary venue , this exhibit invites you into wallpaper drawing-room with a random collection of worldly works and audio stories to match the vision.
Is Mona the interior of a rich persons fantastical world? – Yes
Is it Art-worthy? – Yes
Is it magnificent? – Absolutely
Catch the ‘Spirit’ and sleep in the dark waters, it’s a genuine adventure, but eat before leaving Devonport, or you will be hungry.
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.
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.
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.
The Namatjira Family continue the water-colour tradition as their cultural inheritance.
Acclaimed New Zealand Documentary Director, Annie Goldson was in Melbourne to launch her new (secret project) film. Goldson has a strong formidable countenance and she needs it, many of her subjects are capable of murder or the victims of the culpable hand. She needs to know when to back off.
ACMI hosted the Australian International Documentary Conference, which brought in talent from all over the globe. Goldson was doing a spot of shopping when we caught up.
“Its nice to have some time off and be wandering around Melbourne” Goldson
Goldson began her career as a Journalist and has ‘inched her way’ into filmmaking. She tackles the hard facts behind the news stream and goes into the bog, looking for the truth. As a political observer she finds her stories ‘everywhere’, she is curious and like Alice in a complex Wonderland, has to adapt quickly. We may wonder why the terrorists are so irate, she takes her team and her camera and asks them. She is a historians torch into the unknown.
He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan explores New Zealand’s involvement in the Afghanistan war that lasted longer than WW1 and WW2 combined. ‘Did we stay to long?’ the film asks. Can lessons be learned to prevent such long-term engagements for the sake of alliance.
Brother Number One was a challenging work as it was necessary to create a present from the past events of the Cambodian Genocide under Pol Pot. New Zealander Ron Hamill, the films source, explains how his carefree adventurous brother Kerry ,sailed into a nightmare.
“An innocent man brought to his knees and killed in the prime of his life” Ron Hamill
Goldson records Hamill’s emotional pain as he addresses the torture and death of his sibling at the War Crimes Tribunal.
The mass Genocide that murdered 2,000,000 ( a 1/4 of the population) was led by a ‘charismatic and smiling’ leader Pol Pot who was indifferent to the torture of babies. In 1975. he led the Kamor Rouge into Nu Pen and in 72 hours he had cleared the city of its inhabitants and sent them to work in labour camps, to grow rice that he would export as the population died of hunger, overwork or beating.
“Documentaries are always a challenge.” Goldson
Her films are intense political dramas that set the stage and cast its light into the ‘heart of darkness.’ Her other well-known films that she Directed are; Punitive Damage and An Island Calling
by April Forward
All photo’s courtesy of Annie Goldson film extracts.
“Yes, it reminded me of Daylesford when we were kids, it gave me the shivers.”
Have you seen the Dressmaker?
“Yes, isn’t Liam Hemsworth gorgeous?”
Have you seen the dressmaker?
“Yes, wasn’t the interaction between Judy Davis and Kate Winset amazing, they must have had heaps of fun.”
Have you seen Dressmaker?
“No, but country towns always have their secrets.”
Have you seen the dressmaker?
“Yes, I Loved it.”
Kate Winset sets fire to the screen, in a cathartic survival movie. The very chic Tilly (Winset) returns to her childhood home in the dead of night, to clean up and overcome her troubled past. Armed with a sewing machine she manifests as the fairy godmother with a cutting edge. The film explores ‘the heart of darkness’ in rural Australia, within a playful drama about frocks.
It’s definitely a film to be enjoyed on the big screen.
Costume designer Margot Wilson, runs up a series of ‘show stoppers’ for Winslet to flaunt. Marion Boyce is the ‘muse’ of Tilly’s designs.
“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” Boyce
Judy Davies wrings out every essence of her character in her performance, as a tormented shrew.She is brilliant.