november 03, 2000
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nov 02, 2000
Meetings at CIT and attending an online conference ... (more)
oct 30, 2000
CIT, Canberra, and sights seen ... (more)
oct 26, 2000
Landing in Oz, drive to Canberra, and a Kangaroo welcome ... (more)
oct 24, 2000
Train to Auckland- Parnell sites and Waiheke Island ... (more)
oct 21, 2000
City scenes and a run for rings in Wellington ... (more)
oct 19, 2000
Sunny in Abel Tasman and fine wine in Nelson ... (more)
oct 17, 2000
Hokitika, Punakaiti, beaches, pancakes, horses, and caves ... (more)
Happy Gallery Day! Well... at least that is what my day was - visits to several of the museums/galleries in the Australian Capital as well as the government buildings. Like Washington, D.C., Canberra is home to Australian art and history collections, set in dramatic buildings among green lawns.
The day started at the National Art Gallery an airy structure of white concrete and glass. The gallery is home to a large collection of indiginous Aboriginal art, Australian painters, and international works. But the best stuff was Aboriginal Arts in a Modern World, a melding of the ancient land-connected art associated with the original Australian's concept of "Dream time" and more recent European influences. Most moving was photographer and movie maker Tracey Moffatt's stories through art including a great collection of four of her short movies.
today's photos - all photos o o o o
o o Canberra
starting after #45
Among their major show pieces is a large Jackson Pollack known as the "Blue Sticks". I greatly enjoyed the photographic tribute, "Going to Extremes" featuring the works of George Silk, a New Zealand born photographer who's fame grew after taking war photos for the Australian Army that made their way to Life magazine. His classics include a camera immersed photo into a Canadian stream capturing both a large trout under the water and a drinking deer above. Another dramatic nature shot of an eagle in Arizona, some place called "Snake River" (where is that?). Other of his interesting pieces covered all ranges of sports.
Outside the National Gallery is a diverse collection of sculptures in a garden setting including several statues by Rodin, some which have been there a long time judging by the cobwebs! Nearby are large steel beams, twisted steel, and chrome metal reflective cones as sculptures.
In the more thickly vegetated parts is a Japanese fog sculpture (not activated in the early morning as well as one of my favorites of a canoe, half-submerged in a pond, called "On the Beach Again" by Robert Stackhouse.
The next stop on the tour was the Australian High Court, yet another very modern glass and concrete structure with large airy spaces inside. This is the home of the highest, most "supreme" court in the country, featuring three main court rooms plus other office space. There were not proceedings today so it was tomb-like quiet- the seven justices had the day off? And they rotate court sessions between other major cities in Australia.
The next stop on Gallery Day was the Old Parliament House, the original government building for all three arms of government, opened in the 1920s as a temporary home for these offices. It was not until 1988 until the current modern Parliament house was opened and this older building was crammed floor to ceiling with employees.
The interior is all wood and stone, with a lobby that features inlay of every type of wood grown in Australia. The chambers where the Senate met was even more of a wooden palace. Like the U.S. the government was organized with a House of Representatives, a Senate, and an Executive branch led by the Prime Minister.
Outside on the grassy mall is a different sort of political office, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Indiginous peoples are occupying this area in protest of government actions regarding land and issues like unwanted nuclear power. Judging from the "tents"- buses, sheet metal sheds, living room furniture, electricity draped in view extension cords-- these folks are here for a long haul.
A bit more peaceful and interesting is the pavement covered in desert color Aboriginal symbols facing the gleaming white ediface of the Old Parliament House.
In stark contrast to the classic style of the older version, the new Parliament House is curving, soaring, steel, glass, and concrete. Built into a grassy hill, the structure arches gently towards the sky, and is capped by a 4 pillar steel support that hoists the Australia flag high over the city.
Walking up the slope, literally stepping high above the government offices, one gets a wide panoramic view of the city as well as a neck craning view of the flag tower.
Outside the main "Veranda" entrance is beautiful mosaic in Aboriginal style. Up close the patterns reveal themselves as uniformly sized but variably colored circles of granite.
Inside the main entrance is a gleaming lobby of grey and white marble columns. Scads of people are lined up for guided tours. To gain entrance, you have to pass through metal detectors. Later i was told that barriers were added to the front of the building after a protestor drove a four wheel drive truck into the front doors.
The inside of Parliament House is spacious and filled with paintings, sculptures, and historical tidbits. In the center of the building is a vast high room, the Great Hall used for ceremonies. its back drop is a humongous tapestry styled after the colorful trees of the country. The tapestry stretches the width of the hall and two stories high and is dramatic from all views.
The two houses of Parliament follow the English tradition of being colored in red and green colors. The Senate's chambers are done in a more subdued red, a more pastel desert Australian color.
Likewise, the green color of the House of Representatives is a grey green, more the color of the native eucalyptus trees.
The last gallery stop of the day was the National Library, the equivalent of the U.S. Library of Congress. Besides being a repository for important government documents and related offices, the library is a public access point for information of all sorts, including a good number of computers with high speed internet access. And it has several floors of museum displays- the current exhibit was a retrospective of painter Nora Heysen, who was a pioneer among female artists. In her self portraits one can see a strong sense of independence and energy.
So it was a day full of Australian culture and history, 5 museums worth and not enough justice was done to any of them in terms of time spent.
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