Old Friends

I had the opportunity to visit the Queensland Art Gallery on the weekend. By myself … oh what bliss I’ve been wanting to do this for a looooooong time!!

When I lived and worked in Brisbane I would visit the gallery at least every couple of months. I wouldn’t go to all the travelling exhibitions, but just wander about the usual displays. There are paintings in there I have thought of many times over the years and I was excited to see them still there, waiting for me like old friends ready to pick up conversation where we left off.

Here is one, The Cypriot by William Dobell

It was like he’d stayed in his comfy couch, looking uncomfortable, all these years just waiting for me to come back and say hello. Actually I felt a bit chastised by his glare to be honest.

And another, The Spirit of the Plains, by Sydney Long, still weaving her way through the bush after all these years:

I have always thought of her as a kind of Australian Pied Piper, calling me to follow her, to dance with the brolgas through the Australian landscape. I’ve wondered what she is playing on her pipe that would lure such majestic birds.

And then of course there is Russell Drysdale and his long loping figures, caricatures of hardship in the outback. Can’t you just feel the drought and the hard life he leads?

I didn’t realise how much I’d missed them. I could have spent the whole day there, just sitting and getting re-acquainted, but there was an exhibition of hats to look at, which was really great and very funny, with a children’s activity at the end … although I saw more adults than kids making themselves funky hats!

and one from James Fardoulys, a Queensland Naive Artist:

There just wasn’t enough time.

I received a few odd looks from people as I walked around – the sole had popped off my boot just as I had got out of the car and was flip-flapping about, which was ok in the noisy Hats exhibition, but the rest of the gallery was pretty quiet and in the end I didn’t feel that I could walk with dignity and so I took off my boots and checked them in so that I could feather-foot it about. Ah – much  better …. but of course I still got funny looks, particularly from the elders. Crazy pregnant woman wandering about in her socks. I thought the fabulous and noisy group of women all in loud and flamboyant red hats would be far more scandalous to them than I in my socks!

I wanted to bring the children but they were both feeling unwell, so I plan to come back. They would especially love the Hats! I bring the children to the Gold Coast Gallery at the Arts Centre now and then, and they do enjoy the experience of looking at interesting objects and images, but I’m sorry, the Gold Coast hasn’t got a patch on the Cultural Centre when it comes to visual arts.

I used to work at a child care centre located on the roof of the Brisbane Town Hall in King George Square. As a monthly excursion the children and I would don our flourescent aprons (centre policy! But great as we never lost anyone!), hold on to our knotted rope and wind our way down the fire escape stairs to the Art Gallery on the ground floor. The staff loved us visiting (I think!) and we were as well-behaved as could be considering most of the group were under five years of age and wearing silly aprons. I would just walk about holding the rope and my little snake of preschoolers would follow me and we’d stop and look and talk (but not touch!) before heading back upstairs to do some drawing or modelling or painting.

I’d keep books of modern, local, traditional and native art in our story collections for inspirations. We’d often have our own exhibitions. I made little frames for their work out of cardboard that had been laminated, so I could just pin this up over their paintings and they would look framed. The children would make little cards to display next to their work to explain to parents who the artist was, the title of their work, subject matter and the medium used. Ok – the content was my idea, but the cards were not.

I am not sure the other staff would see the value in taking children to see modern art, grown-up art, but the children were very interested in the images they saw and the stories they supposed were behind the images. It was a great opportunity to enhance descriptive language and imaginative story telling, and all I did was take them to see the pictures. The rest they did on their own. They ‘wrote’ some great stories that year, and put on some wonderful plays.

So – yes, I plan to go back to the Qld Art Gallery with my two little ones and find out if they hear the paintings calling to them as they call to me. I hope they do … and if they don’t , well then we’ll head over to the Museum and visit the dinosaurs …

5 thoughts on “Old Friends

  1. Nice story Jen! Our most recent brush with culture was going to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. We didn’t go ‘in’ we just wandered around the extensive gardens and looked at the installations.
    There were a couple of corrugated iron cows, and we ended up calling all of the sculptures “cows” because I fear the intent of the artist was lost on us. Still, we enjoyed our outing.

  2. Just bought three tickets to see the Pirates show put on by the Flying Fruit Fly Circus at the Out of the Box Children’s festival – ouch! They were not cheap tickets and we can’t really afford it, but I consider it my last opportunity to have a truly exciting and exhausting day in town before the baby comes … plus it will be a day off school. We’ll see if we can squeeze that Hats exhibition in too.

  3. Ohhhh, I’ve been wanting to go the Art Gallery and take my eldest! the hat exhibition looks fabulous! I can just imagine you walking around shoeless and with a pregnant belly. Its amazing how we have such rigid expectations of how people must ‘look’. and the now I am jealous – I planned to book tickets to the FFFC but haven’t…we went to Brisbane not long ago and saw Snow White and that was Fabulous! I loved it as much as the little ones. And the QLD Ballet is coming to the Arts Centre in July and so I will probably take Jasmine to see Swan Lake. We saw A Midsummers Night Dream last year and it really was spectacular. Jasmine sat for 2.5hrs, mesmerised. I just gawked at all the beauty on stage – those bodies! works of art 🙂
    All the best for the birth and welcome of your third baby. It isn’t long now! I love how confident you are, its great & so refreshing.

    Catherine 🙂

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