Being a town founded in the 19th Century, there were quite a few Victorian era buildings.
But in the Mall, there were quite modern sculptures of our favourite extinct marsupial, the thylacine, aka. the Tasmanian Tiger.
We saw lots of representations of the thylacine in Launceston, and saw more exhibits in Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. In the museum we came upon this little quote.
And another amusing quote we found in the museum, very relevant for some people I know.
The centre of Nelson is based around the Cathedral with a war memorial alongside it. It’s a favourite for visitors.
There are also a few art galleries scattered about town, the Suter being one of the best ones.
There are vineyards up this way as well. We had lunch at Fossil Ridge Winery, which unfortunately now has closed down due to COVID-19.
Like most large galleries, MONA was a mixture of permanent collection and temporary exhibits.
Some of the permanent collection exhibits are fascinating, like the waterfall of words they call bit.fall.
It’s a bit of a maze inside because there are no signage on the walls or set ways to view the works (you are provided with an ipod and headphones to navigate by), but for me that’s what makes it so much fun. You really don’t know what you might see next. It could be an Egyptian mummy, or a weird video installation or an artwork based on a bodily function.
The exhibition at the time was called Zero, and it’s a modern art movement from Germany in the late 1950’s. It’s appropriately minimalist, like this blue ‘pool’ by French artist Yves Klein.
Needless to say, if you don’t enjoy being challenged and completely confused then it’s not the place to be. But if you do enjoy a bit of an adventure (artwise or not) it is worthwhile visiting.
After the visit, we cruised back up the Derwent just as the heavens were opening up. There goes Mount Wellington, for another day at least.
The third project of the year was for my TAFE art studies (multi-disciplinary art) and was exhibited in the Bravery Unmasked exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Museum, an art centre in Sydney’s south-west. In the exhibition radiation masks, used to immobilise the head in cancer treatment, are turned into artworks by patients, their family and supporters.
The work is called Determination Cap and consists of a cowl and a balaclava-styled cap.
Cancer patients confront physical and mental challenges akin to those faced by generations of explorers, soldiers and mariners. To protect them from the elements, they wore woollen ‘caps’ knitted by their loved ones.
This cap has been hand-knitted in orange Australian wool to portray both the determination of those who journey with cancer, and the loved ones who support them along the way.
Art in the field doesn’t always have to be out of doors – it can also take place in indoor locations.
A few weeks ago, a few friends and I went sketching in the Australian Museum. Although I had visited a few times, I had never sketched there before. It’s actually a great place to draw in, being full of different objects – natural and man-made.
An intricate wood carving from the Congo, in the Long Gallery.
A very elaborate head-dress from New Guinea, in the Long Gallery.
Crocoite from the Albert Chapman mineral gallery.
Tourmaline from the Albert Chapman mineral gallery.
A 15 minute walk took us to the other side of the CBD. There was the understated war memorial.
The Art Gallery of South Australia’s interior looks very like its Sydney counterpart.
But I was hanging out for the South Australian Museum.
We saw a really good exhibition called ‘Yidaki’ – about the didgeridoo, its Yolngu origins in North-East Arnhem Land, and its modern context. No photos, but here is an essay about it.
The other thing I was looking forward to seeing were the museum’s fossil collection. South Australia being the home of the Ediacaran fossils (one of the first known complex multicellular organisms), it was wonderful to see that there was a whole gallery full of fossils.
And here they are – with quite pretty patterns. Scientists have yet to agree whether they are plants or animals!
There were even preserved water ripples from 600 million years ago (that’s 6 times older than dinosaurs).
These fossils are so important in the biological history of the world that Sir David Attenborough visited the site where these fossils were found as part of his First Life series.
And so folks, that ends our epic trek across Australia from north to south. I’ll explore things closer to home next time.
The final museum we visited was the Tokyo National Museum. We came wanting to view some Japanese artefacts and learn a bit of Japanese history.
However we were quite excited when we reached the front gate to see this poster.
Yes, the Chinese terracotta warriors were being exhibited! We had seen a small exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW a few years ago, but this exhibition was something else – three very large rooms filled with artefacts, not to mention the warriors themselves. This is just about as good as it gets, apart from visiting Xi’an itself. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to photograph much of the exhibition, only this display.
We did learn a few new things about the warriors – that aside from being each of them being unique and life-sized, they also armed as were their function. So the standing warriors above, infantry, would have held lances; and the archers, like the kneeling warrior above, would have held bows. One wonders at the power of the man that instigated this entire scheme, the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, all the way back in 246 BCE (2,362 years ago).
Next to the natural history museum is the Museum of Western Art.
Outside there were signs that there might be some significant artists represented.
I didn’t take any photos inside, but this gives you an idea of what is in the permanent collection. As I like Impressionism a lot, I certainly enjoyed the museum, particularly its dedicated room to Monet. I guess the Japanese like his work too.
Aside from plenty of parkland, Ueno is also the site of a dozen or so of Tokyo’s museums. We visited just three of them during our stay.
The first was the natural history museum.
It’s entrance, with its blue whale, is quite impressive. Much of the building was built around the turn of the century.
But inside it was much more modern, and has what we thought was one of the best collections of dinosaurs in a public museum anywhere.
Lovely as the countryside was, we were on a science tour, and the Canowindra Age of Fishes Museum was our destination.
The story goes that while digging up a nearby road, some workmen stumbled on some fossil fish. They called the Australian Museum, and when the road was opened up, they discovered loads and loads of dead fish from the Age of Fishes in Devonian times, around 360 million years ago. The fish had died probably when their water source completely dried out in a bad drought. These slabs below are the tip of the iceberg.
Back then fishes were the height of evolution. No animals had made it out of the water as yet. You can imagine that there was a lot of competition out in the water! Consequently, these fish aren’t like most of the modern fish you see. They had a suit of armour to protect them instead of scales or skin.
Some of the fish were quite small, perhaps 10cm long at most. This one looks a bit like a weird mini sting ray.
Others were up till 1.6 metres in length.
We were lucky enough to have the foremost expert in these fishes telling us his story. It’s not often that you find so many fossil fish in the one place, even Sir David Attenborough visited recently.