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Alex Gibney Lunch

June 13, 2015
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Meeting Alex Gibney for High Tea is almost too civilised. This is the fearless documentary maker who gave us a devastating portrait of a rogue multinational – Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Since that ground-breaking film of 2005 Gibney has directed more than twenty feature-length documentaries and worked on many smaller projects. He … More


Australian Pavilion

May 16, 2015
The new Australian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Venice has been thrilled by the idea of a new Australian pavilion in the Giardini, where Biennales have been held since 1893. There has been a lot of press and many photos, the favourite one showing the great black cube leaning out over the canal that bisects the exhibition area. One approaches the new building … More


William Delafield Cook (1936-2015)

May 15, 2015
William Delafield Cook, A haystack, 1978

In an article of 1979, Bryan Robertson, a curator who did much to advance the cause of Australian art in London, wrote that William Delafield Cook’s paintings seemed to have “no discernible ‘Australian’ qualities.” Yet Cook, who spent much of his career living and working in Britain, remained devoted to the Australian landscape, never showing … More


FROM GALLIPOLI

May 2, 2015
Deirdre Bean, Image 1: 'Cape Helles', 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum. Image 2: '303 inch British Mk VII', 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum. Courtesy the artist

There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks: There’s a beach asleep and drear: There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea. There are sunken trampled graves: And a little rotting pier: And winding paths that wind unceasingly. There’s a torn and silent valley: There’s a tiny rivulet With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth. … More


Anzac Evolution

April 25, 2015
Image courtesy James Compton

Looking at Australia in the years before and after the First World War, one feels like asking: “What went wrong?” There was so much happening in those early years of nationhood, so many glorious ideals forged in the war itself, that the post-war years can only be seen as a lost opportunity. Constitutional historian, Helen … More


FROM GALLIPOLI

April 18, 2015
Luke Sciberras, 'Along the
Gallipoli Peninsula', 2014, oil on board, 60 x 84cm

When George Lambert travelled to the battlefields of Gallipoli in February 1919 he found a landscape transformed into “a perfect rabbit warren’, riven with trenches and littered with bones. “The jackals, damn them were chorusing their hate, the bones showed up white even in the faint dawn, and I felt rotten,” he wrote. “The worst … More


Michael Schlieper (1947-2015)

April 18, 2015
Michael Schlieper, 'But What's Behind It?'

Artists with superior technical abilities are often studies in disappointment. When you can paint like an Old Master it is depressing to see the kind of stuff that turns up in Biennales and public collections. Neither can one un-learn abilities that have become second nature. It’s a predicament that breeds fatalism. Michael Schlieper had all … More


What Betty Knew

April 11, 2015
Betty Churcher

Betty Churcher (1931-2015) knew that if you wanted the best loans for an international exhibition you had to get the museum directors of the world to go along with the journey. This required an initial charm offensive followed by a persuasive argument about the nature of the show you were proposing. It couldn’t be a … More


Betty Churcher

April 4, 2015
Betty Churcher, at her home in Wamboin in 2012

Betty Churcher was one of those rare figures who could bring the world of art alive for the general public. In this, she was a woman out-of-step with an era that has seen the visual arts develop its own impenetrable jargon and snobberies. This was anathema to Churcher, a born educator whose love of her … More


Learning from Peter Lik

March 14, 2015
‘Phantom’ by Peter Lik

One day, with a photographer friend, I wandered into the Peter Lik Gallery in Cairns. It felt more like a chintzy tourist restaurant than an art gallery. The lights were low, the walls painted a charcoal colour. The furniture was new and gleaming, music played in the background. Lik’s landscape photographs were hung thickly on … More


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