Friday, 25 November 2011

Art galleries in Brisbane

On Thursday evening, when we were walking back to the hotel, Jim and I found a free event for board games.  It was part of the Making Brisbane Better campaign.  The last Thursday each month, the council have provided an open space and some board games for use by the public.  One of the best ones was Scrabble - but a floor size game.  We watched a couple of games being played, and some of the words were different to those accepted in the UK (eg Danes) and the scoring was different - a triple word score, where the link letter created words in two directions, scored triple in both directions.  In the UK rules, it only scores triple in one direction.
End of the game of Scrabble

We had a lovely day yesterday, Friday.  While I toured the art galleries, Jim looked in cycle, book, and camping shops. 

I went to the Museum of Modern Art first, followed by the Brisbane Art Gallery.  I looked at a textile exhibition, where the best piece was about exploitation in the mother-of-pearl industry, called "No job for a white man".  In its heyday, Broome provided 80% of the mother-of-pearl supplies in the world.  The local population dived for the shells, and the overseer was the white man.  Apparently, white people tried to use white migrant labour for the diving, but they were not up to the job, so the job returned to the local population.  The artwork showed a starched white cotton suit (as worn by the overseer) pinned rigidly to the wall, with the soft, warm, loose, cropped woollen trousers worn by the divers, draped over a wooden chair.  The trousers were covered in pearl buttons, indicating it was the divers who earned the valuable resource, not the overseer who benefitted from the trade.

I also looked at the work of Yayoi Kasuma, a japanese artist whose work is brightly covered and mostly created from polka dots.  Apparently as a child she had hallucinations with bright dots, and she has been painting them ever since (now in her 80s).  It sounds as if she has some form of obsessive compulsive mental disorder, because she lives in a mental institution and has a studio a short distance away.  She works intensively for 60-90 hours then has a spell of exhaustion.  I have to say her work left me cold, but some of the comments in the exhibition provoked thought.  She considers introspection/spectacle; expression/formalism; asian/western; insider/outsider; repetition/variation and materialism/tradition.  For some time I have been thinking about differences - monochrome/colour, smooth/texture, inside/outside, open/concealed.  She had a wider range of differences that she considered.  And from my perspective, if a Study Abroad experience is all about "difference", how do we express the ability to define or portray what we experience?  Does my Study Abroad experience have a long term impact on my life and if so, in what way? It has taken me some time to be able to clearly articulate the question.  I don't have the answer yet.  I hope it does have a long term impact.  I'm here to identify differences and utilise them.  I'm not here just to have a jolly.

I then went to Brisbane Art Gallery (next door) and looked at a variety of Australian, Indigeneous, and European art.  I definitely like the Impressionist style - Pissaro, with a painting of washerwomen and their washing on a line, in a bright green field, John Russell with bright images of Belle d'Isle sea and coastline, Grace Cossington Smith with bright dabs of colour representing cloth on a sunlit table. 

I liked some of the quotes on the walls - John Russell "I am a painter of nature, of nature's moods.  Of sunlight and the changing temper of the sea", and Margaret Preston 1923, "When is a work modern?  When it represents that age it is painted in". 

All in all, a very good day.

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