Curious Colony

August 7, 2010

In 1814, Newcastle was “a forlorn cluster of makeshift buildings whose sole purpose was to provide shelter and basic necessities for the inhabitants.” This assessment, by historian Elizabeth Ellis, is uncontroversial. For the 305 white settlers – including 249 convicts – who made their homes in this isolated outpost, perhaps the only solace was to … More

17th Biennale of Sydney

May 29, 2010

But that joke isn’t funny any more, It’s too close to home And it’s too near the bone. (The Smiths) “When he makes a joke,” said Sigmund Freud, “a problem lies concealed.” He was quoting Goethe, who was referring to the aphorist, Lichtenberg, but the sentence has universal relevance. Laughter is a release from tension, … More

Archibald Prize 2010

March 27, 2010

No form of human activity nowadays comes without the possibility of therapy. Tiger Woods had to call in the specialists over his sex addiction, Michael Clarke has seen a psychologist to get his mind off his personal problems and back onto cricket. When Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation, counselling services were reputedly made … More

Martin Sharp

February 6, 2010

There is a double edge to the exhibition title Martin Sharp: Sydney Artist, because Sharp is one of the very few Australian artists who enjoys a worldwide reputation. This is no mean feat for a man who says he has barely left his house for the past forty years. It remains a mystery whether he … More

Lynette Wallworth & Circa 1979: Signal to Noise

January 23, 2010

This year’s Sydney Festival follows the familiar pattern of being chiefly concerned with theatre and music. This comes as no great surprise, but it is important that the visual arts events are not treated merely as an afterthought. Olafur Eliasson at the Museum of Contemporary Art is the headline act, while the Campbelltown Arts Centre … More

Garden & Cosmos

January 16, 2010

We know that something in our world has changed when India is issuing travel advisories to its citizens, warning that Melbourne is a dangerous place. The subcontinent, with its poverty; its heartless caste system; its heritage of religious strife, bloodshed and social unrest, has suddenly turned and pointed the finger at the barbarous practices of … More

Fiona Foley

January 9, 2010

Fiona Foley is an artist who has benefited from being in the right place at the right time. Having begun exhibiting in the mid-1980s, she is young enough to have missed the great ideological battles that took place in the art of the sixties and seventies. She never had to worry about edges and picture … More

Masterpieces from Paris

January 2, 2010

Question time in Canberra: “Is Masterpieces from Paris the most important exhibition ever shown at the National Gallery of Australia, as NGA director, Ron Radford, has claimed?” Answer: No. This is a silly, opportunistic thing to say, as it is a show without an original thesis. Think back to the NGA’s Surrealism: Revolution by Night … More

6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

December 12, 2009

Has it been fifteen years already? In its sixth installment the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery shows no signs of settling into a predictable pattern. On the contrary: the APT is the most dynamic contemporary art exhibition in Australia and quite possibly the world. It may not be the biggest of shows, … More