Thursday, April 27, 2006

A bit of kulcha

In other news, Best Beloved and I attended two openings last night. One was the official Canberra launch at Beaver Gallery of a body of work I had a lot to do with last year. Of course, all the wrong people got acknowledgements and neither I or the other artslave printer were mentioned.

So we hung around briefly then skipped out to the National Museum of Australia to catch the opening of Exiles and Emigrants. We managed to arrive just in time for the interminable speeches -- at least 5 -- including a man from Tattersalls, who sponsored the show. I thought he was going to draw the connection between emigrants taking a huge gamble on an unknown country, and then getting here and developing a culture of gambling since the first risk was such a thrill... but no, he was very boring. Much less interesting than the car dealer sponsors who stood up at one of the NGA's blockbusters and rabbited on about how Picasso would have loved to drive one of their new cars (while we all inwardly cringed).

The last speaker was the British High Commissioner and she was a ripper of a speaker. She had the hardest gig -- at the end of a number of horrid speakers -- but she had us all rapt. At one point she mentioned that 15 million people emigrated in the time of Queen Victoria. At this Best Beloved almost choked in his drink. His boss in his last job had been so petulant and irrational with his staff that BB had dubbed him 'Queen Victoria With a Bad Period', and nearly all this person's staff had left in a matter of 6 months, including BB. The fact that QVWABP was standing behind BB somewhere in the crowd made the moment even funnier for us.

But top silly points go to the cultural butterflies that were flitting around the exhibition after their free drinks and eaties. A pair of them were gazing at the exhibition's jewel, Ford Maddox Brown's The Last of England. One said to the other, 'Look, it must have been cold... you can see a big iceberg in the background! brrr!'

I looked at BB and we started giggling, hair-triggered by the earlier moment. It's the last of England. They are the white cliffs of Dover. Yes, really. I guess you had to be there. It is a lovely painting. And a terrific exhibition. Go and see it.

Mind you, if you have only limited time to see something arty in Canberra, go to the National Gallery and catch Crescent Moon, a stunning array of Islamic Art. And maybe go to Constable, if only for the room full of cloud studies. I zipped through the landscapes super fast, and sat in the cloud room for AGES. Then I went outside and looked up a lot, which is something I forget to do much of the time. But Crescent Moon is the bomb. Pattern, pattern and more pattern. Catch it before it goes.

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