Bringing Meaning Landscape paintings by Zhou Xiaoping @ Chinese Museum Melbourne

25 Aug 21 Feb 2018

Occasionally you bump into something awesomely interesting in surprising places. I like to visit the Chinese Museum when in Melbourne. On a recent visit I encountered the work of Zhou Xiaoping there and was wowed by the inspiring story of a Chinese artist working with Australian Indigenous artists in the western deserts. The artists influenced each other and the resulting works were new and inspiring. There was a video that tracked the development of the relationship through to an exhibition in the major national gallery in Beijing. The web page is below.

Premier and the Pen @ State Library of Victoria

I love little targeted exhibitions. On a visit to the State Library of Victoria recently I walked through their large exhibition on books in history and encountered a small exhibition about the relationship between a Premier and the political cartoonists. It was a delightful collection of cartoons of a series of Victorian Premiers with fascinating textual stories about the relationships and contexts of the cartoons and the Premiers. It gave an insight into a past era but pointed to an important ongoing part of our modern society.

A link to a talk that was held that includes one of the cartoons.

Glenn Murcutt – Architecture of Faith @ National Gallery of Victoria

I have been a fan of Glenn Murcutts architecture for a long time. I have been a fan of Islamic architecture for even longer. When I found out that Murcutt has been asked to work with the Melbourne Islamic community to prepare a building for them to centre their shared lives on I was excited.

There is currently an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Federation square that shows the designs, the developing thinking and the community consultation involved between Murcutt, the community and one of their architects to bring about a remarkable centre for worship, education and socialising. The exhibition did not disappoint and next visit to Melbourne I hope to visit the completed centre.The website has an essay and some pictures of the plans and the build.



Bulgari – Italian Jewellery @ National Gallery of Victoria

Some areas of creativity evoke awe in me. High end jewellery is one such area. Bulgari have been a standard setter in the field for around 100 years. Their styles have led the market in decade after decade, Their products have decorated celebrities at all the right events and they still have a reputation for creativity and excellence.

At the NGV right now there is a glitzily mounted exhibition of items from the company’s heritage collection and it demonstrates all the features of their craft. Mounted in glass cases with notes “Do not touch the items” are a collection of sumptuously laid out integration of jewellery,high quality metals and gemstones. There are notes that explain their connection to significant people and events. My phone battery had gone dead so I have put below the gorgeous website of the Bulgari Heritage Collection so you can get the sense of these extraordinary creations.

Bulgari Heritage Page Gorgeous pictures and text

NGV Web page



Ulla Von Brandenburg @ Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is housed in a startling building having never been there for we parked on the north side walked around three sides to find the entrance. The building is made of windowless rusted metal panels surrounded by pale gravel and paths. The interiors are white varied in size and height.

The exhibition we saw was of the work of Ulla Von Brandenburg. It consists of videos, objects and photos. Many of the video clips have an eerie vibe about them through use of black and white and shadow with often low definition. The biggest screen stand out because it uses a limited palette of strong plain colour. I found myself trying to think through the relationships between the different elements and failed. I found bits of this very engaging and other bits less so.

It is a great space and there was lots to engage the brain with in her work.


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Bamboo: Tradition in Contemporary Form @ National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria is awesome at Asian creative product over the last few thousand years. Currently there is an exhibition featuring the construction of functional and creative products out of bamboo. The artistry is enough to make you drool. Some of the work are challenging in their form and shape others are small and tight for functional use.

The magic of this exhibition is the blending of long term traditional arts and skills with both historical functions and modern creativity. The range of products and the diversity of styles and colours is surprising considering it is all the result of work with the simple material – bamboo.

See some sample pics below and then the NGV web page for the exhibition

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Siu I Moana: Reaching across the ocean @ National Gallery of Victoria

Single room exhibitions often make a big impression. Scale in this exhibition is key, This ngatu (painted tapa) exhibition consists of three monumental bark cloth wall hangings created by contemporary artists, Robin White and Ruha Fifita in collaboration with the women of Haveluloto, Tonga.

As you walk into the space there is what looks like a carpet stretching across the great room and up the opposite wall. Close inspection shows that with folds it is almost twice the width of the room and is beautifully illustrated. The cultural elements on these tapa cloths are clear. The story that is being told is one of migration both of fish and humans.

I love the scale and beauty of this set. Here is the page link and some phone pics.

Siu i Moana

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Jeppe Hein: Semicircular space @ National Gallery of Victoria

The blurb on this reads initially The NGV presents a spectacular new installation by renowned Berlin-based, Danish contemporary artist Jeppe Hein. Constructed from evenly spaced upright forms made of highly reflective stainless steel, Semicircular space 2016, invites visitors to become immersed in a nautilus-like labyrinthine form. 

The walk through is fun. As you walk through the curved, reflective, stainless steel, evenly spaced, paling like elements, you see yourself, other walkers and people walking past both in the gaps and in the mirror like surfaces. It is constantly changing and and unpredictable  experience.

The web page with some pics and an essay is at the following address

Jeppe Hein

Race @ Wyndham Cultural Centre

This is “An exhibition by renowned national and international artists, examining issues of racism.” and it sure does what the blurb says.

Vernon Ah Kee, Richard Bell, Destiny Deacon, Gordon Hookey, Dianne Jones, William Kentridge, David Sequeira, Wani Le Frere, and Vicki West are the exhibiting artists.

William Kentridge created a remarkable black and white charcoal animation dealing with exploitative mining. Richard Bell has exhibited a confronting video of racism teased out in a psychiatrist’s room. David Sequeira’s black and white pop art inspired expression of many of the issues he has faced as an Indian in Australia is a visual feast.

I loved the set and it was good to meet Wani Le Friere at the gallery who had contributed some great compositions which deal with fashion and race.

Pics below and the web link

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Top Design 2016 @ Melbourne Museum

As a high school teacher there are some types of exhibitions I find particular delight in. Top Design is one of those. It is a display of work done by VCE students in faculties with a design focus in courses such as fashion, marketing and graphic design. The materials on display include portfolios the visitor can look through and product on display such as mock up models for product and items such as clothing and furniture.

It always impresses me that people of 17 or 18 can create such professional looking work and can produce such high levels of technical expertise. I have included below some pics of clothing, woodwork and branding to show the end results of their work in years 11 and 12.

The web page for the exhibition is

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