Rivers in Australia at National Library of Australia Treasures Gallery

Image off NLA Website for this exhibition

The National Library does a great job of targetted historical exhibitions. This small show in the Treasures Gallery bring together rich maps, books and photographs to portray a historical insight to the place of Rivers in Australia. A land of vast dry areas also features great flooding rivers. There are some maps of early Canberra and a great photograph of the flooded city before the finishing of Lake Burley Griffin. For the history geography buff it is a great half an hour visit.The National Library is still about the only institurion to ban photographs. These artifacts are all in th epublic collection and lots of them are very old. Still puzzles me.

Exhibition is on till September 12 and the website is: https://www.nla.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/rivers-lifeblood-australia

A Nation Imagined: The Artists of the Picturesque Atlas at National Library of Australia

Landscape painting from NLA page for exhibition

This amazing exhibition finishes this weekend. The roots for this show was a collaboration between the National Library and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Picturesque Atlas of Australasia was published between 1986-9 and this exhibition focusses on the artists who contributed to the work. The three principal artists were Julian Ashton, A. Henry Fullwood and Frank Mahony As usual with NLA exhibitions the display is rich with great historical source material and great information from the curatorial staff. The NLA is the only institution I know of in Australia that prohibits use of cameras in their exhibitions. I do not remember any material in this display younger than 100 years old which is puzzling.

This is a link to the documents that are available on Trove if you do not get into the Library this weekend.


Underworld – Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties – National Archives of Australia Kings Avenue Barton

Kate Leigh “Queen of the Underworld”

Subtitled “Mugshots from the roaring twenties” this exhibition is a rich visual entry into Australia 100 years ago. At heart it is an exploration of an emerging field of photography centred in the criminal underworld in the 1920s.

In the exhibition you walk through a gallery of fascinating characters photographed in black and white through the medium of class plate photography. The gallery is peopled by hard crooks and petty criminals both male and female, There are lots of delightful brief biographies spelling out what let the sitters to be captured in a mugshot. The sitters are in various poses and dressed in various fashions. A collection of more fascinating faces would be hard to find.

Exhibition is on till 24 October 2021. Opening hours 9.30am -430.pm. Parking is $3/hour seven days a week. Website https://www.naa.gov.au/visit-us/events-and-exhibitions/underworld-mugshots-roaring-twenties.

Angela Brennan – Forms of Life @ Ian Potter Museum of Art

5 Sept 25 Feb 2018

Angela Brennan has mounted an exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art that plays with ancient artifacts discovered by Melbourne University Archaeological expeditions. The pottery is colourful and varied and is inspired by a set of pots that are also displayed in the gallery. She has added some dresses inspired by the same ancient cultures. The gallery web page is below.



The Gift – Art Artifacts and Arrivals @ Museum of Australian Democracy

There is a gorgeous exhibition of artifacts of migrants to Australia at the Museum of Australian Democracy currently. The exhibition brings together stories, pictures, art works, photographs and other materials to tell fascinating stories of courage, bravery, loyalty and love woven through the migrant experience.

The stories are illuminated via belts, suitcases, glass artworks and lots of other treasures. One display has a roll of very large pictures of several generations in a refugee families. This exhibition has a focus on Jewish refugees whose stories have the added power of the intensity of their experience post World War Two.

Some pictures below.


Waving the Red Flag – Chinese posters 1949 – 1976 @ National Library of Australia

The National Library does history beautifully. Right now there is a remarkable exhibition of Chinese posters from the early Mao era. They are classic, They are stylistic, They embody a fabulous insight into both Chinese history and culture. There is a visual beauty in the twenty simply hing images that draws the eye.

Sample pics are below do not give anything like the strikingness of the real images.


Biographies – Martin Rowney @ Belconnen Arts Centre

29 July – 20 August 2017

Small targeted exhibitions are often surprisingly interesting.  Martin Rowney has five works on display at the Belconnen Arts Centre around the lives of four people. Each of the art works have unique elements in them that speak to the life and individual and reflect the back story that is displayed on the wall. Each of the works has an artistic interest and merit in itself but become richer with the person’s brief bio in mind.

Rowney is an archaeologist who uses art to communicate elements of his work. The pics and gallery materials are below.

Escape from Pompei @ Australian National Maritime Museum

Historical blockbusters are things I stand in awe of. I love the curation. I love the presence of ancient objects. I love the maps, the quotes, the carvings and the historical backgrounds of materials I have a vague familiarity with.

The big Pompei exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum was a rich education for me. I have taught this topic to year 7 but this exhibition created a deep new understanding from the brief eight minute recreation of the 24 hours that destroyed Pompei. The curators have woven a story of the historical context, the aftermath and the significance. The details, the objects and layout tell a fascinating story and I was enriched by the visit.

See some of the pics below.

The international exhibition of Sherlock Homes @ Powerhouse Museum Sydney

Until October 8

In my six decades of life I do not think Sherlock has been absent from any of those. This exhibition at the Powerhouse is a testament to the multi layered phenomenon that flows from the Arthur Conan Doyle character

The exhibition has wonderful stage sets, ephemera, inter-actives, puzzles to solve and heaps of fascinating text. I loved the complexity of the experience. Grandparents were competing with primary school children to solve mysteries and get their sheets stamped. Lots of people were having fun experiences with the many interactive exhibition elements. People like me followed the museum richness of the space which includes vast amounts of the historical expressions of this phenomena including the many forms of comics, other languages, pottery representations, typed manuscripts and heaps of other fascinating stuff.

The whole exhibition is done in low light and the experience was increased by the constant presence of the hubub of people of all ages.

Some images below give a sense of what the experience is like

Melodrama in Meiji Japan @ National Library of Australia

Exhibition branding for Melodrama in Meiji Japan It is wonderful how many generous people enrich us all with their art gifts to public institutions. The exhibition at the National Library is the result of a collector’s generosity.

100 gorgeous woodblock prints recording the introduction of melodrama into pictorial story telling traditions 100 years ago in Meiji Japan. The elegance of Japanese illustration is there in every print. The emotion and restrained dignity of the images is engaging. The textual explanation is rich and demanding and the experience of the exhibition gives a great historical insight to a period of change in the society of Japan as it absorbs some influences of the west. It also marks a flowering in woodblock printing before more technological techniques took over.

There was a no photographs policy in an exhibition of prints that are all around a hundred years old in public ownership so to look at some samples I have included the web page below.