Canberra Centenary – what’s so great about it? @ Belconnen Arts Centre

Using a set of five artists artists from here and elsewhere the curators have created a profile of Canberra that it thought provoking and engaging.
Barak Zelig created some delightful invented landscapes. There was one with that ghastly cheap 19 story block of flats in the middle of Woden Town Centre plonked down in a normal suburb. Another is with a sky scraper in the midst of a burnt out forest and a third with suburbs right down to the shore of Pine Island. James Passakos created several versions of our wonderful large roundabout. Carolyn Canty produced a set of reflections influenced by the work of US artist Grant wood to convey the various roots and functions of Canberra. Angela Coombs Matthews produced some abstract landscapes focused on the Cotter Dam development. Theo Tremblay had some great prints print hangings celebrating the different urban looks of Canberra.
Again here was a small exhibition which through careful curation brought together some deligtful perspectives of Canberra during its hundredth birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed the point of view in each of these artist’s work. I have included a phone pic of a sample of each artist in the exhibition they are in the order I have mentioned them.





Grayson Perry on Art @ BBC Reith Letures

I listen to heaps of podcasts on lots of topics. This week I have heard three parts released so far of the annual BBC Reith Lectures. The great lecturer this year is the artist Grayson Perry. His lectures are on art – its standards, its place in the economy, its gatekeepers and its funny idiosyncrasies. His focus is on contemporary art and he is a wonderfully funny and well informed imbedded commentator.

I had never heard of him before I heard the lectures but he has  large body of work especially in the field of pottery. The lectures began with a discussion of the frock shoes and make up he was wearing so I Googled it and have attached a link to some stuff on him.  If you can try and get the lectures – they are fun and very engaging.

The podcast is at:

The frock competiton

The art at Saatchi

Punk in Canberra @ Canberra Museum and Gallery

The Cabinet of Curiosities at the Canberra Museum and Gallery is one of my favourite spaces in the City. It is a small room in which people are invited to show their collections of various interests.
Right now the exhibition is Head Full of Flames Canberra Punk and Beyond. This is a show full of clothes, shoes, videos, ephemera and other elements of the Punk approach to life. I was not into punk but it was very influential and it is worth a visit to see the local manifestations of this fascinating movement.

Splinters @ Canberra Museum and Gallery

I love the way the Canberra Museum and Gallery does it work. Right now there is an exhibition of the history of an experimental theatre group called Splinters. I have lived in Canberra most of the last 60 years and I had never heard of them but it was fascinating to see and read of their long period of work. Beginning as I recall in the seventies they created great events both inside and out. The exhibition has empemera, videos and props drawn from its history.
It is in the gallery upstairs and I have included a photo of a remarkable prop that is on display

The Art of Australia with Edmund Capon on ABC 1

I love art and I love hearing about art from people who love art. Edmund Capon was the head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales AGNSW for over two decades until recently. He knows his art and he has created a three part exploration of the history of Australian Art called the Art of Australia which is on ABC 1 TV. I missed the first one but saw the second and enjoyed it especially for the range or woeks and styles he covers. I don’t thing he is the most amazing TV persona but his love of art comes across in a knowledgeable analysis of his chosen works.

A great anecdote I loved was when he spoke of a previous head of the AGNSW being the first director of a major gallery to buy a Sidney Nolan painting. His board of governors were so shocked that they required him to gain their permission for all future art purchases. The third episode will be on at 7.30pm next Tuesday on ABC 1.

Nexus – Reflections and Interpretations @ Tuggerenong Art Gallery

The current display in the main new central gallery space at the Tuggerenong Arts Centre is a delightful exhibition of artists with roots in South America. The range of material and approaches that are included in this exhibition are wonderfully stimulating. There is jewelery, there are mobiles of double sided digital postcard prints, there are fabrics, photography and feathers – a delightful curation of a range of styles.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso contributed two large works created largely out of Emu feathers, Fernando do Campo has a developing set of geometric shapes first in crayon then in paint and then in corrugated coloured cardboard. Ceretha Skinner has some delightful geometrically designed silk screen fabrics on the wall. Sarrita King had a great white and blue snake type form that evoked Indigenous and Chinese roots.It is a great exhibition and I was glad I popped in.
Sarita King

Ceretha Skinner

Maria Fernanda Cardoso

Fernando de Campo

Rodrigo Munoz

Antarctica Emma Varga @ Canberra Glassworks

Another great exhibition of a remarkable glass artist Emma Varga is on at the Canberra Glassworks. She has created 40 beautiful predominantly ice inspired works of art and a set of gorgeous digital prints of astonishingly beautiful locations in the Antarctic. It amazes me how creativity can emerge in very similar media to evoke different senses of a place. Each of the works use different aspects of glass –  colouring, internal texture, external surface working and shape and size. The overal impression is a great insight into the cold beauty of the remarkable Antarctica.  I will be going back.  I have attached a couple of shots of what struck me as the most remarkable work in the exhibition – a work inspired by the Neko Harbour Glacier



2013 Capital Chemist Art Award @ Tuggerenong Arts Centre

When I dropped in to see the newly renovated Tuggerenong Arts Centre i found an interesting collection of works in the original gallery space. They were labelled the 2013 Capital Chemist Art Award and I have included a phone pic of the winner that does not do justice to the complexity of the work. It has descending bands of portrayal of the historical development of Canberra that are delightfully recognisable. The shift in the look of Canberra is charmingly represented.

I have also included a couple of phone pics of another work that appealed greatly to me.  There were a good range of types and styles of art including an unusual vehicle constructed out of various media.

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William Kentridge Drawn from Africa @ National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) does some great work with its own stored art. Last week a classy example of this opened for a month. William Kentridge is a wide ranging creator with a dominant theme in his work of journey. The NGA has slotted this exhibition between Turner and the next blockbuster on Incan gold and all the works are taken from the NGA’s collection.

Kentrdge works largely with minimal colour and many of his works look like shadow puppets. He creates remarkably subtle and complex detailed pictures of natural scenes using linocut techniques.

The most engaging part of his work to me as a history teacher is the way he weaves in a non-aggressive political way, literature and history into his art.. There is a set of artworks that celebrate the Russian novel The Nose in which a nose detached from a person becomes the controller of everything. This remarkable novel was a critique of communist Russia and feeds the issues Kentridge works into his art. There are elements of war and Apartheid in his work.

The exhibition includes a video of him being interviewed in the exhibition space there is a large viewing room of him at work creating some of his art. A delightful exhibition on an artist who is very engaging.


Roy Lichtenstein @ National Gallery of Australia

What an explosion of colour and creativity this exhibition was. I had seen bits and pieces of the art of Roy Lichtenstein over the years in galleries and in books but seeing this large collection of his work in several rooms was heart lifting.

The trade mark of Lichtenstein was the Benday dot. This apparently was his reference to the dabbing style of the Impressionists. At the heart of the exhibition is a set of his style re-doings of the Haystack series by Monet. Lichtenstein uses colour changes to hint at the transformation through the day ending with a deep blue night version which from my recollection was not done in he Monet series.

The range of his production on display includes a set of wall papers and moldings, some fabulous brass art deco stylised heads and lots of varied colour and stark lines of the pop art style creations. A remarkable exhibition for anyone who likes pop art.

The range of Lichtenstein pictures on Google images is awesome if you want to see his style of art without attending NGA.