I want you to know I tried to make this blog post not about me. Honest I did. I walked all the way from Redfern to the Domain to check out what was new at the AGNSW. (Via Crown Street and a few new design stores on Oxford Street because I’ve got a newly developed ceramic fixation which requires me to fondle objects I don’t own and enquire ‘is this porcelain?’ of the poor minimum-wage-shop-minder who clearly doesn’t care about anything other than getting back to their sneaky mid-day Netflix.)
The short answer? Not much. The Archibald is old and facile as you’d expect from a popularity contest shrouded in acrylic paint. (All the good paintings are of people you’ve never heard of and are thus condemned to misty backroom corners and all the crowds flock to the hyper-realistic portrayals of well known ‘personalities’… as though the aim of portraiture were still photographic rendering). The Wynne and the Sulman are thrown in for good measure though the commencement of the Wynne wasn’t really labelled and I did spend a moment wondering if the Archibald had widened its legs so far as to allow a stacked pyramid of Dalmatians to qualify.
The Dobell (drawing prize) is also on again though its not clear if they failed to call for submissions or if the prize money has run out, for what appears to be the show is one room of sad chickens scratching in HB pencil. There is however one stunning exception to this; Maria Kontis. Her soft but exquisitely detailed Polaroid drawings are both realistic and dreamlike; playing between the second and third dimension they beguile and bewitch in a way that recalls the sublime.
The Young Archie, though is free and is worth a look if you’re in the vicinity; there are some lovely emotive renderings from powerfully talented kidlets (particularly the 11-16 year category). Also on (and also free!) is ‘100 Aspects of the Moon’ which, despite being somewhat obliquely titled, is a charming display of superb woodblock prints, commenting on tradition from a contemporary viewpoint, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Having wandered all we could around the gallery (really at too much of quickstep to qualify as my mother is a strident strider), we maintained the same pace on our return journey, gleefully soaking in the brilliant Sydney springtime sunshine and chatting about novel plotlines, proposed articles, blogs and other makings in brew. It made me realise anew how lucky I am (we are) to be a familial trio where we share such thoughts and bond in the creationist fantasy of being self-employed creative-types (although sometimes mistaken for chardonnay socialists / witches).
It was a lovely realisation capping off a delightful(ly) long Sydney weekend for me, filled with presents and sun and brunch and more presents and more sun and also a lot of alcohol (it was my birthday, which explains most of the presents and some of the alcohol). Tomorrow I fly the coop back south for a couple of days making pots and pulling beer before extending my odometer further and driving to Melbourne for birthday-round-two with my dad.
Twenty years on and that divorce is still paying dividends.