George Baldessin @ Drill Hall Gallery

I love the curatorial policy of the Drill Hall Gallery. They have a great range of artists and styles and the space is such an attractive venue for big scale artwork and small. The current show features the two dimensional works of the late George Baldessin. As is often the case I did not recognise his name when I read about the show but soon realised that I regularly see and admire the pears outside the National Gallery of Australia.
The exhibition at Drill Dall features his painting and drawing work and it ranges from realistic protrayals of natural materials to intriguing disjointed representations of human and almost fantasy forms.There is something about some of the art that I find not very attractive but the products are engaging as I had to work hard to comprehend what was there.
I will try to find more about his work particularly his sculpture as I have always loved the pears.

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Afghanistan The Australian Story Gallery @ Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial AWM has an unenviable task of putting on displays that memorialise war. I have often thought it would be interesting to be in curatorial meetings. The tensions between respect for the fallen, realism about the politics and issues of stuff ups and bad behaviour must challenge them all. As I look at the exhibitions i am looking at things before I was born. or when I was very young. The newest exhibition is on the Australian part of the latest Afghanistan war and I have paid alot of attention to this and have absorbed lots about the history and context of it.
My first walk through was brief because I found myself reacting negatively to the first text panels. The overall display is bright in a dark fairly small space. The biggest feature is a massive two wall video screen with material playing on a loop which engaged visitors well. I did not stay for the whole thing. There are good research spots linked to the AWM data bases and a reasonable layout of text and pictures to cover the war.
I was not very engaged by the exhibition because I had too many clashing voices in my head about this war as I have never been comfortable with the whole project or Australia’s involvment in it. I was much more impressed by a conversation between Richard Miles and William Dalryple on Afghanistan flowing from his book Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, The audio is on the ABC website:
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bestoffestivals/
The AWM page is
http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/afghanistan-australian-story/

Jamie Boyd – Brief Encounters @ Beaver Galleries

This exhibition was a set of paintings set inside that were basically pretty to me. The subject matter is people who are in ordinary situations and painted in fairly ordinary ways. To my eye the works seem to be set in the past and used a style from the past. It was an enjoyable set of images but nothing remarkable.

The 17 works are on sale from $1,800 to $4,500. Contact through

http://www.beavergalleries.com.au

Salute @ Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial AWM has regularly surprised me with its exhibitions. I was a teenage pacifist anti Vietnam war protester. I left Australia rather than register for the draft. I lost the pacifism as a result of starting to follow Jesus while in the Arab world. I never lost the view that war is usually not the best way to solve national disputes. As a high school teacher and Canberra fan I regularly visit the AWM for things that they put on.

This latest exhibition titled Salute has many surprises in its acknowledging the continuing military history of Canberra. Duntroon and Harmon were founded. The AWM itself was founded and built, The stories of many Canberra people involved in the military and various wars are included in the exhibition. There are leaders and followers and there is an interwoven narrative of the history the military, the city and some wonderful people
The great moment for me to see was pictures of the internment camp that was at Fyshwick during the First World War. I grew up at Narrabundah but had not heart of this thing. I have attached a couple of pictures I took of some of the exhibition.
The exhibition is up to the usual high standard of integration between photographs, objects, paintings sensible amounts of text and audiovisual elements that you expect from the AWM.
The page for the exhibition is
https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/salute/
The two photos below are taken of pictures in the exhibition of over 70 residents of the internment camp and of part of the camp
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The lodge on the Lake @ Gallery of Australian Design

Under the auspices of the University of Canberra a competition has been held to design a possible prime ministerial residence for Atunga Point on the south bank of Lake Burley Griffin. The Gallery of Australian Design GAD is exhibitiing the finalists including the first three place winners. The delightful space of the GAD has the walls fully decorated with remarkable design panels and three dimensional models of maybe thirty entries that range almost from a castle like structure rising from the water to something looking like the home for a colour obsessed cartoon character.

Some of the entries have created something that is intended to be a large public monumental structure others have created a residence with some national leader scale entertaining spaces.
Exhibitions of this style are quite challenging as architectural designers create panels that are a cross between videoclip style art work and some technical drawings. It is often hard work to digest what is the intended outcome of the design.

I love that this project is fostering interest in The Lodge. I think the current one is a bit of an embarrassment when you see the scale and caliber of housing that is sold in Canberra every week. The problem is that no politician will take the risk of proposing building it.

There is a very full website section on the University of Canberra site which houses high quality images of all of the design entry panels. I am thankful that we have the GAD in Canberra because they display rich creativity in areas that other institutions do not cove.
The website is
http://www.canberra.edu.au/lodge
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Jyll Bradley – City of Trees @ National Library of Australia

Some exhibitions call for revisiting and this is one of them. Ms Bradley has put together an engaging tree focused set of elements at her exhibition at the National Library in Canberra. The entryway is striking – a very large back lit colour photograph of a bush setting that is strongly Canberra in its look. As soon as you turn into the exhibition space you are struck by two large almost teepee like structures and an angled dividing panel near the end.
My immediate reaction was to get inside the first pod. The structure was made of rigid corrugated cardboard enclosing a small space in which there was a remarkable hexagonal box seat made of folded cardboard. My wife loves any boxes with complex folded structures so we had to pick it up and examine all the folding structural features. I admired her restraint at not actually dismantalling and reassembling it. Sitting on the box you get to listen to a tree focused audio with no distractions other than the structure of the cardboard pod.
The walls are decorated with many elements of the story of the Canberra city of trees and there are places where you can read tree poetry and record your own stories of trees.
There are artworks created on photocopiers that celebrate the qualities of paper and there area selection of other reflections on trees.
The artist has taken the exhibition beyond the gallery in that there are lots of other elements on the website. The most marvelous of these are some audio files that can be downloaded for free and then played in locations around Canberra as you engage with certain treescapes.
As part of Canberra’s 100 year celebration this is a complex and engaging exhibition. I love it and will return for the teacher briefing at the end of the month.
The web page with the brochure is at:
http://www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/city-of-trees
Below are some snaps of the cardboard seat
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Landscape on the line – Ian Robinson @ M16 Artspace

Lake George or Weereewa is the inspiration for a delightful set of creations by Ian Robertson at M16 Artspace right now. The exhibition centres around a set of small concertina fold out booklets in which a narrataive is told of change in the landscape of Weereewa over the centuries. Delicate water-coloured ink drawings with brief hand written story lines give a set of perspectives of the area. Having watched the basin throughout my sixty years of regular driving or riding past I found each of the booklets quite touching.

There were some great features of the exhibition. They had put some white gloves along the way so that it was OK to pick up the books and read the whole story. The charm of the exhibition was the delightful representation of the changes in the landscape and I left feeling happy if not elated.