Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trip to the Art Gallery NSW

I was meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but i haven't had the chance to properly sit down and review what i wanted to say! and on this cold Sunday night, with a public holiday tomorrow, i can finish the post!!

On a Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago, i headed into the city with a friend for Art after Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW. I had been a couple of times over the years, mainly with university, and i had forgotten how much i love going to the gallery on a Wednesday night.
The gallery is always very busy, generally with people popping in after work, as a meeting place, a night out, a date location etc. Being there and observing last night, in my mind, firmly reminded me that yes in fact Sydney is a world city, and yes we have culture. It really did bring back memories of a evening visit to the MET in NYC in 09 (sigh)

Another thing i like about visiting the AGNSW on a Wednesday night is people watching- well mainly observing the fashion. I like the fact that the women generally make an effort to dress up to attend the gallery, something i do actively try to achieve myself (without success!). I did see a beautiful red wool tunic dress which (if i could ever afford and find the material) i would love to make! I also participated wearing my purple 'Marissa' dress i made last year and a light brown jacket.

The AGNSW has plenty on at the moment, including the opening of a new contemporary space (this wasn't open yet on Wednesday).  The Archibald, Wynne & Sulman Prizes were on exhibition. Also the Anne Landa Award. The other exhibition i saw was 'Photography in Place' Australian landscape photography from the 1970's to today. (just quietly this was my favourite!)

Archibald prize was ok, with my stand out favourites below. The winner, Ben Quilty's portrait of Margaret Olley was definitely a deserved winner, and really its a painting that you have to see- images on the net do not do it justice. All pictures below are from the Art Galley of NSW website.

Ben Quilty
Tim Storrier
Del Kathryn Barton
 Andrew Mezei

Song Ling

I also saw the Sulman and Wynne prizes, the later won by Richard Goodwin, lecturer at COFA.

The next exhibition was the Anne Landa Award for video and new media arts. The work that took my eye here was done by artist Charlie Sofo (who is my age and is getting exhibited at AGNSW- incredible!) who recorded various sights, sounds and objects on walks around Melbourne- looking at everyday objects or occurrences in new ways. My favourite is how he videoed every cat he came across in his walks- was quite humorous (one of those things you have to see to understand!). Anyway if you're interested check out his blog

Lastly, my favourite of the night Photography & Place Australian landscape photography 1970's until now. I love Landscape art- i enjoy looking at ways people are able to read landscapes and places and convey their ideas. I don't see myself as a landscape photographer, but i love (ok i haven't taken any new shots recently but i have ideas!) trying to reveal images of landscape that convey how i see the world and place.

The works in this exhibition really reveal a great deal about how we continue to evolve in the way we observe landscape, place, its history and human intervention of it. So no images from Steve Parish (he he). I figure its because i am a town planner and constantly reading landscapes (mainly urban ones) that i like these works.

Stand out works? Where do i begin?! Lynn Silverman, Debra Phillips, Wesley Stacey,  Simone Douglas, Paul Ogier, Bill Henson, Ricky Maynard, Anne Ferran, Rosemary Laing, Simryn Gill. Yes quite a list, quite an exhibition.
Debra Phillips

Simone Douglas

 I am sorry i haven't provided further insight to the exhibition and the works. I just love to observing how each artist has their own interpretation of landscape and meaning and how time and history is involved in each perception.

 Yes a very long winded blog post- but i really enjoyed my visit!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A question of aesthetics

Recently, two articles have been published on the Sydney Morning Herald regarding housing and development in Sydney.
The first one- regarding KDR or knock down rebuild, speaks of a resident who decided to knock down an existing weatherboard house to replace with her dream home. The article discusses the changing face of many of the older 'outer' suburbs of Sydney and how the KDR and renovation trade is booming.

The other article is in relation to approval for alts and adds to a home owned by Mark Scharzer (Socceroo goal keeper), which was previously a childhood home of Christina Steed, author (and apparently idol of Jonathan Franzen). The article discusses local opposition to the proposed changes by reason of heritage significance and character.

I find it interesting that within 2 days, two very disparate articles on housing essentially raise the same issue- one of housing aesthetics. I have a habit of reading through viewer comments on newspaper articles. I believe it gives a great (or grave in many cases!) insight into the world.
The first article received comments ridiculing the appearance, size and necessity for such a large dwelling.  I found it interesting that a number of comments also indicated that doing up a fibro house wasnt a bad thing either (i must declare my bias- i am currently making my little fibro shack pretty)
Of course you get those who say that its the owners land, they can do what they want with it.

The second articles comments discuss the need to maintain historic Sydney, community groups having too much of a say on private property matters and how the Scharzer's have already attempted to maintain the heritage of the property, whilst creating additions that are modern (ok i must again declare my bias- i work has dealings in heritage).

What i got out of both these articles is a debate of 'the public good' and the question of where aesthetics fit into what 'the public good' is? Should we be complaining about the proposed additions to a dwelling, that is historic (yet not officially heritage listed) and exhibits character, or should we be complaining that people should not build massive dwellings, that to many, do not provide any character of place or architectural merit? Where does the community and government step in to this question of aesthetics? Why is this question of aesthetics so disparate in Sydney?