Anzac Long Weekend 26

Art Gallery of NSW

Badger Bates, Barka the forgotten river and the desecration of the Menindee Lakes 2018

A new wing is being built and three new shows being hung, so less to see, which doesn’t matter, there is always too much.

Good to see the linocuts shown in the video on Saturday, where Badger Bates showed his handprint over his grandchild’s and talked of the Barka River’s sickness

This grass portrait depicts Aboriginal youth climate activist Lillie Madden

Large grass-based portraits created by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey command the entrance way. Twenty-one years ago, intrigued by reading about their work, I crossed the Thames to Lambeth, a region I didn’t know. I stopped off at the garden museum (well worth a visit) on the way to Beaconsfield Contemporary Art Space for ‘Afterlife’. In that early show, they captured people on a nearby zebra crossing in Vauxhall, and they became ghostly vegetative presences larger than life. Ackroyd calls chlorophyll ‘a quasi-magical molecule, and al biologist would agree. The work filled the walls of the old ‘Lambeth Ragged School’ and was more impressive, because the works dominate the space.[i]

I played with Naziha Mestaoui’s ‘One Beat One Tree’ briefly, you dance to grow a tree, a ;ovely idea but I found the screen ugly, grows. What I didn’t realise until I had stopped dancing was that for every virtual seeding, a real one will be planted.

Pascale Marthine Tayou’s ‘Colonnes Pascale’ (2012) forms columns of pots from Marrakesh. In 1977, I just bought a pipe for smoking hashish. Columns frame a sign for ‘Victorian dreams and realities’. His interest is in hybrid cultures (born in Cameroon and works in Ghent, Belgium and Yaounde, Cameroon).

Conrad Martens, ‘View of Sydney Cove’, 1838.

Martens, a Londoner, joined Darwin on the Beagle briefly then made his way from Chile to Australia. He became the colonies preeminent landscape painter, borrowing the soft radiance of Claude and Turner to mute our harsh sun. Government House is a beacon of stability, a small two storey six-room Georgian building was grand compared to the prefabricated canvas tent it replaced. Its 5,000 bricks, brick moulds and panes of glass sailed on the First Fleet, while convicts hewed blocks of sandstone and made clay bricks. The local shell middens were quarried to provide lime for mortar. The house was 50 years old, but already dilapidated and finally demolished eight years later, being in the way of Sydney’s development and street access down to Circular Quay. The grand gothic replacement was built close by in the Domain and remains the residence of the Governor of NSW.

There’s no sense of the disaster or the politics, the military coup of 1808 The Port Arthur penal settlement eight years earlier or of the 28 Indigenous Australians killed that year in the Myall Creek massacre. Landscape paintings lie. Yuriko Saito explains that we view landscapes though cultural lens, ‘primarily through historical/ cultural/ literary associations’ which is a problem because it neglects natural values, and values of the outsider, the radical, the indigenous.

Sydney Long’s antipodean arcadia is Art Nouveau dreaming, or burying one’s head in the red earth.

The railway station, Redfern, 1893 (near where Central Station is now)

Arthur Streeton’s work at its best is fantastic.

Laurens Craen, Still life with imaginary view, c1645.

I have eyes only for the lemons. I have given a talk at the regional gallery on the history of still life through lemons from the Romans to Warhol, the Dutch Masters we the masters.

‘Asleep in the tree’ was a three day performance last month by Mike Parr, an Australian indefatigable performance artist.

‘Lockdown Love with Mike Parr Performance Exercise

Think of a global issue that you care strongly about. Ask yourself: How do I feel when I think about this issue? How can I use my body to communicate my feelings about this issue? How can I combine sound and movement to create a performance about this issue?

Create a performance using your body, sound and movement to express your feelings about your issue. Share your performance with yourself in front of a mirror, see how your body moves and how these actions make you feel. Share your performance with your friends or family in person or via Zoom.

Ask your family to share how they felt to watch your performance. It’s important to remember that people experience performances differently. It will be interesting to compare what your audiences take away from your artwork compared to others.

Share your performance with our Programs and Learning team or on Instagram @biennalesydney.

John Glover, ‘Patterdale Farm’ c1840

Earlier was saw a painting made of grass, here is a painting of grass.

I admire John Glover sailing here as an elderly man in 1831, forging a new career here while maintaining one in England. epicts his property at Mills Plains, Tasmania. He named it after a village in the Lake District, near his home Blowick Farm. Along with von Guerard, he painted an Australian landscape that began to assume its unique identity. He thought eucalypts were a ‘painter’s delight’.[ii] I get in close to the black slashed face.


Outside sculptures in the public domain keep a low profile.

[i] They project a negative image in gradations of light onto a ‘garden bed’ (their canvas). Working from seed, they created their works in Marrickville’s Reverse Garbage building, which I used to frequently frequent. Ragged schools were free schools for poor vagrant children, where they were taught and usually given food.

[ii] Tim Bonyhady, The Colonial Earth, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne UP, 2000.

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