We've just got back from a few days in Brisbane, ostensibly delivering various items (motorbike, washing machine, microwave, bicycle...) to Mr P, my stepson, and his partner who now live in swanky West End. But we had to experience a little bit of culture while we were there, didn't we? And by "culture" in this instance I'm thinking of a decent place to eat a cheap dinner, swanky cocktail bars and a great Teppanyaki restaurant as well as the joys of the South Bank.
I loved being back in a city again. Much though I enjoy living in the countryside, it is sometimes nice to get a blast of urban living. We stayed near Roma Street Parkland - famous in our house for appearances on Gardening Australia with Colin Campbell wandering round it - and yesterday we managed to take a walk there ourselves. It's not so much that we have a thing about Mr Campbell - although he is fabulous - it's more that the Brisbane climate is similar to the Coffs Coast climate and hence most of what he says, and most of what grows in the area, is relevant to us as we struggle to establish our own gardens.
This trip we took photos of areas in the Roma Street Parkland that we liked, and picked up some ripe palm fruit from a foxtail palm, which I will now have to look up on the internet to see if I can propogate the seeds!
Of course no visit would have been complete without a trip to the South Bank area, with its wonderful architecture and galleries. Sadly, though, we'd forgotten how DREADFUL the cafe is at the Museum. Really - don't go there! Not only is the food crap, the service is crap as well. Too late - i.e. after we'd queued and paid - we remembered that the place we'd really enjoyed eating at is the very comfortable half in-door, half out-door cafe and bookshop at the State Library of Queensland, only a block away... but luckily after we'd dragged Mr P and Ms L through the Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery AND the Gallery of Modern Art we felt able to partake of an extra cup of coffee (oh, and did I mention the cake?) at the Library cafe, so balance was restored to the world. AND I picked up an illustrated "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" for darling daughter and somehow I managed to slip a 3-pack of large blank Moleskine sketchbooks into my shopping basket as well, which was really naughty as we just don't have any money right now. Ah well; too late.
I did love this piece by Jill Barker called Faultlines, 1996, which was thousands of hand-drawn wavering lines of blue pen all the way down two looooong sheets of paper. I recognise that I am attracted to work that seems almost impossibly complex/tedious/repetitious, as if there's some intrinsic merit in the sheer effort that goes into it. I probably ought to ponder this more since I find myself increasingly slaving away over my own work in a similar vein... But anyway, it was an interesting part of a single gallery collection that was curated by Marian Drew from Griffith University. I have sadly lost the note I made of the other works in this photo, but the overall exhibition referenced Buoyancy, and I found it interesting. Marian Drew brought together everything from contemporary erotic Japanese woodcuts to 1930s landscapes, painstakingly wrought on eucalyptus leaves in oil paint. It was intriguing and I would have loved more information on the GoMA website as well as in the gallery.
One thing GoMA is great at is engaging with children, and engaging children with the art. The gallery is currently hosting a major exhibition of Surrealist work - absolutely NOT my cup of tea - and we went down to the children's areas to see what was going on, and it was brilliant: the gallery walls were covered in crazy images of ink-blot creatures, and there were half a dozen activities ranging from editing the Surrealism Daily News on computer to creating collages with coloured paper or bizarre found images superimposed on old landscape engravings! Clearly everyone down there was having a ball, and my daughter was no exception.
The one thing I didn't manage, which would have been lovely, was to meet up with Amanda Watson-Will, newly back from a month in Paris! Not surprisingly she was exhausted, and although we had a last-minute idea to meet for coffee on the South Bank it wasn't to be. We're going to save that pleasure for another trip up to Brisbane, when hopefully we'll all have some more energy and I won't be towing a trailer. Thanks for the thought, Amanda - I am looking forward to catching up with you and various other BookArtObject friends at Impact 7 in Melbourne at the end of September.