Smart Arts

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This morning I dropped the Princesses at kindy and in the immortal words of Rik Mayall, “took the last freedom moped outta nowhere city”*. To paraphrase, I escaped parent town for some much needed time out in the adult world. I met up with one of my favourite Mumrades for a stroll around the Art Gallery of NSW and a very civilised “ladies lunch”.

My mother, Nanabulous has expressed contempt for people who say “I dont know anything about art but I know what I like”. For her its like stamping the word ignoramus on your forehead. On the other hand, she thinks that Edmund Capon, the recently retired head curator of AGNSW, is a big w%#ker. Its a  a mixed message from Nanabulous but I agree that people immersed in the art world can take it far too seriously. I’m down with Stephen Fry’s approach (like Stephen, I prefer men but that’s not where I’m going with this). Mr Fry said that “Art is essentially useless. But so is love and wine. Art is like the love and wine of life, without which life is not worth living”. That man is so erudite – sigh. I concur totally that although art can express a serious message, it should be for enjoyment. Anyway off went two Mumrades to sip a little on the wine of life.

Our first stop was Australian Symbolism – The Art of Dreams. Not being au fait with the symbolist movement of the late 1800s, I’ll plunder directly from the AGNSW website;

“Rather than representing the real world, Symbolist artists sought to suggest altered realities as conjured by the mind. To evoke ideas, dreams and sensations, they envisaged poetic landscapes, femmes fatales, and figures drawn from spiritual and mythological terrains.” These “figures” are more often than not, young women cavorting in the nudie rudie, giving the impression that life for a symbolist artist was a whole lotta fun. To be fair, about half of it was mystical landscapes and some antiques from the period were also on display.  I was quite taken with Hot Wind by Charles Condor (shown below). It was painted in Victoria during the height of a savage draught and to me its really evocative to the parched Australian outback.

Hot Wind by Charles Condor

I also liked Fantasy by Sydney Long.

Fantasy by Sydney Long

Here’s some of the gorgeous antique jewellery.

Art nouveau inspired jewellery

Finally to prove my point about all the naked frolicking we have Rupert Bunny’s “Pastoral”.

The work was exquisite and being able to walk around drinking it in at my leisure without little people moaning that they were hungry, thirsty or bored was pure luxury. ( It was almost as good as being able to lie in a hot bath with a glass of cab sav).

Uplifted we ventured downstairs to the 18th Biennale of Sydney which was a much more cerebral exercise. Here the men in black were lurking preventing visitors from taking photos. Being the outlaw that I am, I managed to get this one.


This seriously creepy work gave me the heebie jeebies. Its “if there were anywhere but desert” by Ugo Rondinone. I have no idea what its deeper message is but I expected it to suddenly jump up and grab me as I gingerly tip-toed around it.

If you are able to get some kid free time both of this exhibitions make for a stimulating escape from the mundane routine of housework, nappy changing and discipling rogue kids.  It might also give you a renewed appreciation for the creativity you witness at home everyday. How about these masterpieces from P1. If art is the wine of life then P1s stuff is the pink champagne that makes you giggley.

Our family as aliens

Our family as squidlike aliens – inspired by Prometheus

Enjoy the wine of life Mumrades



* From The Young Ones and Cliff Richard – Living Doll, 1986

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