The morning dawned clear and sunny, the best of autumn days yet we were still late in leaving the camping ground. We headed for the National Gallery of Australia situated not far from the Old Parliament, on the lake edge. It was nearly lunch time so we decided to explore the sculpture garden in the meantime.
|Sculptures in the garden of the Gallery|
We picnicked on the edge of the garden and at 12.30 pm, after the bells in the National Carillon rang the half hour, they broke in to a recital including Shirley Bassy’s Big Spender and other airs aimed not to offend. It was a joy to listen to this across the water, but I was disappointed when Chris explained that there were not a dozen little bell ringers working their hearts out with little bell knockers, but that it would be all computer generated. Hence the lack of expression, passion or whatever else the real bell ringers may have been able to add. The gallery beckoned so we left the bells to the hundreds of locals running, cycling and walking along the lake edge path.
We spent the afternoon on just one floor, viewing the extensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island collection which we did not enjoy as much as that in the Melbourne Art Gallery, and a large collection of modern work from a wide range of international artists. One of the exhibitions was a series of Sydney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings, but not the same we had seen in Benalla. Evidently Nolan was obsessed by this subject and turned out enough to populate galleries all over the country and still sell some to private collectors. With much of the works we saw today, the question came to mind over and over again, but is it art?
The gallery also has several works by Picasso including L’ecriture one of the few I like. Jackson Pollock’s 1952 work, Blue Poles was purchased by the gallery during Gough Whitlam’s reign, for a controversial $1.2 million. Chris remembers sitting in front of this forty years ago and being horrified that such excessive public monies were spent on such a monstrosity. Today he and I both loved the painting, its vibrancy and depth of colour, and marvelled that it is now worth about $250 million; not a bad investment after all.
We wandered through an exhibition of Indian and South East Asian Art, quite lovely and so much more captive than most of the abstract European art we saw.
I am looking forward to discovering the galleries collection of older works which hopefully will be more pleasing. And yet that is not to denigrate all that we saw today; there were some fine works among the collection that do deserve a look, however today we did fit in to the “streaker” category rather than the “studier”.