Bowls baskets blankets and boats – Jenny Manning @ Belconnen Arts Centre


Jenny Manning Has created an exhibition in the four styles listed in the title. Her bowls are big functional and richly coloured. Her baskets come in a range of sizes and styles with a similar colour palette. These are made with plastic tubing wrapped in rough woolen yarn. The blankets are knitted in mohair and scream out to be picked up and wrapped around you as you walk past. The boats are a delightful set of both black and white and also coloured versions of textured sketched boats. The coloured ones have a look as if they are made out of quilted material. Painted on smooth MDF they are charming.
Below are some pics and the gallery sheet to give an idea of pricing.








Genius and Ambition @ Bendigo Art Gallery

The blockbuster at the Bendigo Art Gallery Genius and Ambition is drawn from 150 years of artists connected with the Royal Academy in London. I have never been to this gallery but the experience invites me to go back again and again. The exhibition space is large and the choice of deep blue, red, and green for the rooms combined with mandated low lighting gave a regaity to the hung works.
Lots of the heroes of the English art world including the superstars of Constable, Gainsborough Turner. The historical background to the Royal Academy is fascinating but it is a bit of a hagiography ignoring the controversies about their role in culture control. However it is an awesome experience to be in these large rooms viewing such superstars of the 19th century art world. The scale of the artworks is often amazing. There are lots of paintings of scenes and people on creations that would cover the side of a double decker bus.
It is an awesome thing that such a great art show gets to be housed in a regional gallery


Golden Dragon Museum at Bendigo

Two of my passions in teaching Australian History at middle school come together at this Museum, cultural diversity and migration. Whoever is responsible for this exhibition has done a great job. The main room is a high ceilingled round hall with a vast array of information and artifacts informing the visitor about the complex and rich Chinese culture and society as it has developed in Australia. There are clothes, religious items, information about business, family heritage information and heaps of other facets to their world.
The second space is much more object oriented. There are large numbers of remarkable things to learn about. I am so used to stuff that is purely functional that encountering objects that are simply startling in their complex design and decoration always surprises me. Imagine having a small cart like a covered rick shaw that is completely made out of decoratively carved Jade – I found it entrancing. The range of stunningly beautiful examples of creative design and craftsmanship is quite breathtaking.
I have a few pics below to whet the appetite. The web site is






Luminous World @ National Library of Australia

Some corporations collect art – usually as an investment. In Australia one of the strong corporations in the field is Westfarmers (the people who also own Coles and Bunnings. Part of the Art Gallery of Western Australia as I recall is named for their collection and they have now put on the current display at the National Library titled Luminous.
The display at the National Library is a delightfully curated set of woks that cover the last 30 years and as you walk through you become aware of the trends that have passed. The art combines indigenous burial poles, large scale landscape photographs, Jackson Pollock lookalikes and a large range of works all of which reflect light in various forms.
I enjoyed the collection mainly because of the historical range and the diverse way the curator has put together a light themed collection. No Photographs wre allowed but the three post cards handed out at the door give you a bit of a sense of the works.



19th and 20th Century Art – Ballarat Art Gallery

I have wanted to go to the Ballarat Art Gallery for 20 years. Many collected exhibitions I have been to over the years have sourced from this Gallery’s collection. Most of my art consumption has been in Canberra and the National is not strong in 19th century but Ballarat has a reputation for a good collection. As soon as we arrived we did not go to the block buster but we went upstairs and spent a few hours with their collection of 19th and 20th Century art.
The representation of Australian society and country embodied in the art is wonderful.The combination of odd looking Europeans dressed in finery in unpaved bush settings abound. There are lots of representations of the environment in its leached out light and many presentations of people wrestling to make a living out of a harsh environment.
The bonus in these galleries is the furniture taken from the period and laid out in appropriate spaces.




Fonovale – Fono McCarthy @ Wyndham Art Gallery

The delightful small gallery upstairs in the Wyndham Council building has an exhibition inspired by traditional South Pacific culture. The creations are a set of tied dowling rods accompanied by some traditional framed black and white drawings. Rather than talk about the works I will attach some pics and the gallery sheet for any readers who do not get to Wyndam.













Barbarella’s Spaceship @ Megalo Print Studio and Art Gallery


The Megalo Gallery is a well lit cheerful space but when you add the primary colour festival that is in it at present the vibe becomes jubilant. A big collection of print makers have joined to exhibit simple brightly coloured printed useful objects for the kitchen, bedroom, family room and other household functions.
There are bags, tea towels, cushion covers quilt covers and lots of other useful items all set up in categories or spaces to show their usefulness. The overall impression is of vital exuberant usefulness. I have attached the flyer, the gallery sheet and some sample shots to give you a taste of what is in the gallery.









For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation @ Ballarat Art Gallery

For a history buff who at times teaches Colonial History to Federation this exhibition was close to exhilarating.

The blurb for this exhibition says:

Celebrate the role played by Scots in the development of the Australian nation from the First Fleet to Federation, by coming to Ballarat to experience For Auld Lang Syne.

This  large and complex art exhibition that brings together artworks and objects from across the country and beyond celebrates the unique contribution of Scots to the development of the cultural, social and political life of this nation during its formative years.

This ground breaking project presents a fresh perspective on Australian history by highlighting the impact of a particular segment of society – the Scots – and their successful establishment of economic and cultural networks. 

By drawing together the extraordinary story of Scottish Australia through rich visual heritage in all its forms, including objects and artworks from national, state and regional collections and from private collectors, the exhibition contributes to Australia’s understanding of its cultural inheritance.

I love great work done by curators and this is a classy example of their work. I counted over forty named institutions that have contributed to this. There are books, paintings, sculptures clothing, handicrafts, sketches, and lots of other historically rich elements. This is a deep well researched, layered exploration of an important element of Australia’s Anglo history. We only got to spend 90 minutes in it but I walked away with a profound new insight into an element of European Australian history. I am thankful for great curation and great people who are dedicated to preserving the sources of our European history.

Royal Exhibition Building Nicholson St Melbourne


World Heritage listing for this building was well deserved. As it is now part of the Melbourne Museum precinct it is possible to do a guided tour every day at 2pm. Being in Melbourne on a rainy day before we went to the Aztecs it was a great thing. The tour takes you around the upper story from where you get closer contact with many of the great features of the building.
The guides brief you on the history and that is supplemented with over a dozen educational panels with accompanying photographs that are set out on the balcony rails.
The building is in a large cross shape and was designed as a large exhibition hall. There are huge exhibition spaces on both floors but the most remarkable features are the huge arched roof spaces and the mythological style pictures that decorate the central pillars and the supports to the dome.
The surprise to me has been the internal and external contrast. The exterior is a classical rendered finish which looks very substantial. The interior is dominated by timber. Massive areas of beautiful polished timber floors on both levels with some timber structural elements. Nearly all of the interior is painted in a series of colours and thousands of painted rosettes on the ceiling.
The main reason for its World Heritage listing is apparently that it is the only one of the large number of large exhibition halls that were built in the 1800s this one is the only one that is stil functions as a commercial exhibition centre. It is a great thing in Australia to have such a significant building that is well over 100 years ago being both preserved and well used.

Dreamworks @ Australian Centre for the Moving Image


Amazing, thorough, Wide-ranging are all words I would use for the Dreamworks exhibition on at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. I taught ancient history to year seven this term and the students suggested we watch the Croods as a term wind up. It was wonderful and it is a Dreamworks production.
In the room there were hundreds of framed prints drawn from preparatory sketches through to final images. They had a large collection of three dimensional models of characters and other elements done to prepare for the final product.
Dreamworks have set up a curved theatre to show in 3D one of their movies for four minutes as well as distributing many screens throughout the space with interviews with many of the creative people behind the many aspects of the major projects they have brought to market over the last 20 years.
Some of the displays involved delightful multi-screen mock up of discussions in the creative processes such as an idea pitch or a team desk while the drawing and research s being done.
I have resolved to watch a selection of these animations over the next few months to get a sense of what this great exhibition is pointing to.