REVIEW ISSUE 29 MARCH 2014
PIRANESI IN MELBOURNE Two current exhibitions throw new light on the Italian master printmaker
THE DEVIL’S TRILL
CITY OF BENDIGO
Kate Roffey argues we should get over our obsession with budget surplus and invest in the future
Robert Murray on the history of musicians’ pacts with the Devil
We explore Victoria's regional centre of art and culture
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4 The Melbourne Review March 2014
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RUSSIA AND THE UKRAINE
BIG BASH TRIUMPHANT
A NIGHT UNDER THE STARS
Alexander Downer on the link between security and geography.
Peter Singline applauds a Cricket Australia marketing success.
Dave Graney meets Melbourne’s community symphony orchestras.
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INSIDE Profile 06
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Finance 08 Politics 09 Business 12 Columnists 14
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MUSIC AND POLITICS
Peter Tregear asks difficult questions of Venezuela’s El Sistema.
Andrea Frost chooses four warming reds for the most beautiful season
Books 16 Performing Arts 18 Visual Arts 25 Food.Wine.Coffee 34 FORM 38
The Melbourne Review March 2014 5
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Our Cover Giovanni Battista Piranesi Carceri d’invenzione [Pier with chains] plate XVI, 1761 etching and engraving 40.7 x 55.2 cm (plate) See page 27.
Melbourne Arts Centre, State Theatre Friday, March 28, 7.30pm
Shirley Stott Despoja
Discover the glory of a fantastically rich culture – that of classical China – brought to life through brilliantly choreographed dance and mesmerising all original orchestral compositions. Magnificently costumed dancers – the world’s elite – move in poetic arrangements that evoke pastoral beauty, imperial drama and the glory of an ancient civilisation.
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Frank Cadogan Cowper, Vanity (detail), 1907, oil on panel. © Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photographer John Hammond.
6 The Melbourne Review March 2014
Chair, Wonderment Walk Victoria: Great societies are defined through their art, science and knowledge. by Wendy Cavenett
It’s taken 20 years to become an overnight success,” Eddie Kutner says laughing. A quote made famous by American entertainer Eddie Cantor in the mid-20th century, it’s also the perfect insight into Kutner’s great take on life today: a life that is unconventional, exciting and shaped by great passions and great ideas. His latest is a project called Wonderment Walk Victoria (WWV), an audacious proposal for transformation, learning and innovation for the people of Melbourne and Victoria and quite possibly, beyond. Kutner is eager to explain. Imagine the 30 Portraits in 30 Days project by Vincent Fantauzzo, or John Olsen’s exquisitely elongated bronze Frog. There’s also NKRYPT – an intriguing “puzzle to be solved” – designed by Dr Stuart Kohlhagen (of Questacon in Canberra), and the wonderfully immersive experience of Claudio Tocco’s Everything that Rises Must Converge, a scientific study of water and vibration like you’ve never seen before. These are just some of the sculptures and instillations that marked Melbourne’s introduction to WWV. Housed during February in the white space of Federation Square’s Yarra Gallery, the exhibition, which was beautifully curated by No Vacancy’s Andrew Chew, gave visitors a palpable sense of Kutner’s grand idea: to create free, open air galleries in and around Melbourne linking areas of significance with works combining science, mathematics and art. Inspired by numerous international destinations including the grounds of Trinity University in Dublin and the Clore Garden of Science in Israel, Kutner’s vision to engage and intrigue local passers-by has garnered significant support from the business, science, arts, and academic worlds.
Indeed, a series of videos formed an interesting exchange for visitors to the Yarra Gallery exhibition. Featuring Olsen and Fantauzzo commenting on the work for the project – along with a selection of candid conversations with some of Fantauzzo’s portrait subjects – the exhibition also included a short video where a handful of prominent individuals talked about the significance of WWV. Included were
Professor Brian Schmidt (Nobel Laureate, 2011) who expressed the importance of bringing art, science and technology together in public places, Professor Ed Byrne AC AO, Vice Chancellor and President, Monash University, who hoped the ‘extent of the walk, and the wonderment of the art embedded in the walk would continue to grow and resonate’, and Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE who believed WWV was a way of “intermingling science and everyday life [whereby] they become part of your life, as indeed science should.” Kutner, and the WWV directors, Peter Yates AM, Leon Kempler OAM and Carolyn Reynolds, also featured. It is hoped, Kutner says later, that Olsen’s leaping frog will be installed in the Queen Victoria Gardens later this year, and the first ‘wonderment walk’, featuring up to 10 ‘wonderments’ (sculptures or installations), will link Olsen’s work to Fitzroy Gardens, various universities in the CBD, Southbank and parts of the arts precinct. It’s a bold undertaking that involves complex scheduling with Melbourne City Council, as well as organising insurance and legal documentation. There is also the possibility of including works in situ as well as loaning objects from various arts and science institutions. Kutner is also talking about future exchanges with sister cities “where we could contribute a work and they might also give one to Melbourne”. When we meet, it is nearing the end of summer and outside, great white clouds sit above the many high-rise buildings that create Southbank’s metropolis-like skyline. Kutner, a friendly, unassuming individual (who is amazingly sprightly and full of curiosity) sits behind a sizeable, no-nonsense desk in his office in the heart of Southbank. He laughs easily and doesn’t mind in-depth analysis or talk about his family and his early years in Australia. Born in Kassel, Germany, in 1947, Kutner lived in Israel with his family for almost three years “in what was known as a Shikoon (district)”. Kutner elaborates: “Basically it
was a new area hurriedly constructed with attached housing that simply provided shelter. It is not a modern term and districts are not referred to in that manner anymore.” When Kutner’s parents found each had sisters living in Australia, they decided to immigrate and arrived in Melbourne in 1952. Kutner was only five years old.
They lived in a boarding house for many years, living off his father’s modest tailor’s wage. Ask Kutner what shaped his experiences and he says rather than a physical place, it was the fact that he was part of a loving, Jewish family with strong traditions, a feeling often accentuated by Kutner’s many references to his wife and children and nine grandchildren.
The Melbourne Review March 2014 7
I think one of the secrets of life is to be passionate about what you do. Even if you don’t like what you’re doing, do it as well as you possibly can rather than avoid it or run away from it, or do it half-heartedly… the same goes with family.” “I like to be open with my family,” he says. “They know my warts, they know my pluses, and they know the negatives. We just live together so it’s about being open and being yourself.” By his late teens, Kutner was studying commerce at Swinburne. He says there was a need to make a living, to become selfsufficient, so he chose commerce, a shorter course than most disciplines, which meant he could earn a living sooner. It was 1960s Australia and Kutner, who needed money to support his studies, completed a short course and became a tax agent. He recalls going to a number of factories, opening his card table in front of each one, and completing tax returns for immigrants who couldn’t speak or write English. Later he says: “I think one of the secrets of life is to be passionate about what you do. Even if you don’t like what you’re doing, do it as well as you possibly can rather than avoid it or run away from it, or do it half-heartedly… the same goes with family.” By the early 1970s, Kutner was a fully qualified chartered accountant. He had his own practice and raised four children from its income, “but as with most immigrants,” he adds, “the lack of real estate was an issue.” So he started to renovate homes in his spare time, and not surprisingly, was soon
buying and selling real estate. By then he had met schoolteachers Dennis Wilson and John Bourke. Both were buying properties, renovating, and sub-dividing land. “They were clients of mine,” Kutner says, “and we swapped ideas for many years, but as is often the case with accountants, the clients give much more useful advice.” Kutner laughs. Eventually they pooled their resources, and in 1987 the three formed Central Equity. Today, the privately owned developer has completed more than 70 medium density and high-rise residential buildings. The company has also branched into housing estates and land sub-division. Kutner says Central Equity has approximately 900 apartments under construction in Southbank including Southbank Grand, a 43-storey building with 515 apartments.
Its construction can be seen from one of Kutner’s office windows.
WWV to link it with other significant areas in Melbourne.
“There’s nothing better than seeing a building rising from the ground,” he says, “a building that has been lines on a piece of paper and is now becoming a built form that will become a part of people’s daily lives.” He then adds: “Of course there are many tons of steel and concrete – but it’s much more than that. It’s a very creative process – it’s actually creating something tangible for people.”
“As our traditional industries either become unviable or need restructuring,” he concludes, “and old businesses and the old ways no longer sustain us, it’s only knowledge, innovation and a willingness to explore that will create the new areas that will sustain Melbourne as a knowledge city, as a great place to live. I hope Wonderment Walk Victoria will play a role in this transformation.”
Indeed, when Kutner, Bourke and Wilson first started business in Southbank, there were approximately “100 people living in the area,” Kutner recalls. “Melbourne was probably one of the few places in the world that didn’t have inner city living.” Today, Southbank has close to 15,000 residents, and Kutner would love
»»For more information about Wonderment Walk Victoria visit: wondermentwalk.org.au
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8 The Melbourne Review March 2014
FINANCE Consumers are clearly cashed up, enjoying the massive savings from record low interest rates on their mortgages and the $1 trillion that has been added to their wealth over the past two years from the boom in house prices and higher share prices. Some of these positive effects are spilling over to the housing market. Importantly for bottom line GDP growth, dwelling construction has reached a record high in recent months to the point where housing construction will add significantly to growth through 2014 and probably into 2015. Favourable demographics from strong population growth and earlier under-building left Australia with a housing shortage, which was a critical factor behind the renewed optimism in the construction sector. In terms of house prices, there is no doubt there is a boom of some importance currently underway. Prices have risen by around 15 percent in the past 18 months and while this is leading to issues of affordability for those not in the market, it is generating a strong lift in wealth and is encouraging builders to build more dwellings so as to take advantage of the higher prices.
Another Year of Expansion? The economy has started 2014 on a strong footing, although there remain quite divergent trends within the changing composition of that growth. by Stephen Koukoulas
ining investment is falling away very sharply and perhaps one of the easiest things to forecast for the next few years is for further sharp declines. Many of the huge mining projects of the last decade have been completed or are close to completion. The work is finished. Given the huge capacity in mining built up over that time, there are very few new mining projects on the horizon.
This is well understood and it a critical reason why the Reserve Bank of Australia has set interest rates at record lows. The other slightly disconcerting aspect of the economy is the softening in the labour force. Over recent months, the rate of job creation has stalled and the unemployment has reached a 10-year high around six percent.. This reflects prior softness in the economy, through to about the middle of 2013.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the strong growth outlook has been exports and mining exports in particular. In both volume and value terms, exports are rising at a rapid pace. While the price of some key exports has fallen somewhat over the past year or so (iron ore, gold and coal), this has been at least partially offset by the lower Australian dollar and a surge in the volume of those exports. It is this lift in export volumes that is adding substantially to economic growth while the high export values are supporting national income growth. Both are very favourable factors for the economy and look set to continue while ever the global economy is moving to a strong and sustained expansion. The reason why the labour force result, from a macroeconomic perspective, is only slightly disconcerting is because employment growth lags changes in the business cycle. It has only been in the period since about the September quarter 2013 that the rate of economic growth has started to kick higher. It is encouraging to see that the rate of GDP growth lifted to an annualised pace above three percent in the latter part of 2013, up from just above two percent earlier in the year. The partial indicators for the economy in the early months of 2014 suggest that GDP is on track to exceed three percent, perhaps by a wide margin in the near term. This sort of growth should be strong enough to start firing up the labour market, which means that solid rates of job creation will return and the unemployment rate will certainly head lower. In terms of some of those indicators, retail sales have risen at an annualised pace of nine percent over the last six months, a pace of expansion that normally coincides with uncomfortably high inflationary pressures.
These stronger conditions have added to inflation pressures with the inflation rate accelerating over the past year. The RBA has acknowledged some uncertainty about just how and why inflation has lifted in the past year but there is a clear impact from the lower Australian dollar and the slightly stronger economy. The end point is that the composition of economy growth in Australia is changing appreciably, with the fall away in mining investment being more than offset by stronger consumer spending, a housing construction boom and robust export growth. This is just what the RBA and Treasury would have been hoping for and it sets the scene for the economy to move into a 24th year of continuous economic expansion.
ÂťÂťStephen Koukoulas is Managing Director of Market Economics marketeconomics.com.au
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 9
POLITICS LETTER FROM EUROPE BY ALEXANDER DOWNER
s I watched events unfold in Ukraine during the last three months, I couldn’t help but dwell on something President Putin said in 2006: “The collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”. That was a huge call. It’s obviously highly debatable as a statement of historical fact but that’s not really the point. The real relevance of the quote is its exposure of the mindset of the Russian president. These days, most European leaders and even, more arguably, President Obama regard the era of great power rivalry and foreign policy as an extension of national security policy as anachronistic. That was how the world was through the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but in the era of globalisation, digital technology, transnational corporations and multilateral institutions, all that seems old hat. Well, if they thought that, they should think again. The very term ‘geopolitics’ should remind everyone that a country’s security policy is naturally deﬁned by its geography. Let’s take Russia, the world’s largest country, but a country with few natural borders. Whereas Britain’s greatest city, London, and its hinterland are protected by the English Channel, Italy is protected by the Alps, India by the sea and the Himalayas, Russia has few natural frontiers. As history has shown, it’s relatively easy for Russia to be invaded especially across the northern plains through Poland and Ukraine. While Britain’s defence policy has depended for centuries on the Royal Navy, Russia’s has depended on the concept of defence in depth. Sure Napoleon and Hitler marched for hundreds of kilometres into Russia, but in the end they were overwhelmed by the vastness of the country.
Russian security policy perfectly. To the east it included Ukraine and Belarus – and even, according to Moscow, the three Baltic republics. To the south-west there was Georgia, Moldova and Armenia and to the south-east the Central Asian republics like Kazakstan and Uzbekistan. Russia had buffer states in every direction. When the Soviet Union collapsed all those countries became independent. For a while Moscow was too weak to do anything about it. Not surprisingly, the newly independent countries to the west wanted to integrate with the prosperous and secure world of Western institutions, especially NATO and the European Union. Most of Soviet dominated Eastern Europe succeeded as did the three Baltic republics. This was a huge strategic setback for Russia.
For the West, this is outrageous. It is a blatant act of invasion. But for the Russians it’s all about geopolitics. They use the time worn excuse they need to protect the Russian speaking Ukrainians. Anyone with a sense of history will recognise this argument. In the 1930s Germany invaded Czechoslovakia to protect German Czechs. Or go back 100 years to the Balkans where the First World War started. The Serbs wanted the AustroHungarians out of Bosnia Herzegovina because they wanted to protect the Serbians living there. After the assassination of the Archduke, Vienna wanted to invade the recalcitrant Serbs and the rest is a horrible history.
As post-Soviet Russia has regained its strength, largely through oil and gas, so it has started a process of trying to secure its neighbourhood. As the Russians see it, they can’t allow the former Soviet states to fall under the spell of the seemingly hostile West, dominated as it is by the United States and the European Union. In 2008 Moscow used the
The concept of the Soviet Union suited
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These days, our media don’t explain all this to the public. My guess is the lazy days of easy relations between Russia and the West are over. That’s not good news. The Americans have tried for two decades to draw the Russians into the mainstream of Western diplomacy. While NATO and the EU have expanded eastwards giving those countries a greater sense of security from Russian imperialism, they have tried to compensate the Russians as best they can by bringing them into institutions like the G8 and APEC. My guess is that’s failed. And it’s failed for a good reason. Russia wants to consolidate its security because history tells them, for right or for wrong, that the West will always be a threat to them. In far-off Australia, that seems absurd. After all, NATO and the EU have no aggressive intentions towards Russia. But in Europe, as elsewhere, history matters. They remember the Germans came after them in the 1940s and over a century before that, so did the French. These things matter in world politics.
Fashion, Food, Art
NATO and the EU nestle up along their borders.
Don’t worry. That’s not going to happen. But understand this: the Russians are not going to let
Georgia crisis as an excuse to invade and occupy part of the country. Now it’s Ukraine’s turn. The Russians simply won’t allow the strategically sensitive Crimean peninsula which contains Russia’s Black Sea ﬂeet base of Sevastopol to be controlled by a pro-Western, pro-EU regime in Kiev. So they’ve sent in the troops using the same pretext they used in Georgia: to protect Russian speaking minorities.
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10 The Melbourne Review March 2014
BIG BASH HAS DASH Cricket Australia and its innovative play. by Peter Singline
n May 2010 we were asked to attend a meeting with Cricket Australia, sign a confidentiality agreement, and then be briefed on a most audacious plan to launch a new version of T20 cricket in a little over six months. We were invited to pitch to provide the creative services required to develop the new franchise brands for the eight teams of the new Big Bash League (BBL) competition. The sad thing in this little tale is that our role in the process, was short lived. We pitched and we ditched. The task was given to Cricket Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s incumbent agency Future Brand. We retreated graciously, but disappointed. The success of the BBL has been huge. According to media reports more than 650,000 fans attended BBL matches this last season, at an average of 19,000 per match. That compares with ballpark figures for the NRL (15,000), Super Rugby (20,000) and the A-League (14,000). The BBL saw six matches with crowds that exceeded 25,000. Armchair viewers have also been big. A move to Channel 10, after being on Fox Sports for the
first two years, has seen a four-fold increase in viewers with a cumulative audience of just under 10 million Australians, at an average of 932,000 metro and regional viewers. However, the success of BBL was only possible because Cricket Australia was bold and smart enough to recognise that they needed to introduce something more captivating into their sport. In 2010 market research of children under 15 years was showing that cricket was ranked the seventh favourite sport for boys, and not on the radar at all for girls. Different interests, increasing cultural diversity, and a new digital world, where screen based activities were screaming for attention, meant cricket was becoming less relevant. When I recently followed up Mike McKenna, Executive General Manager, Operations at Cricket Australia and head of BBL, to get his perspective on the journey he had been on with BBL, his response was rather more humble. He simply saw the exercise as a great case study in Marketing
101. The market place for sport, and therefore cricket, was changing, and they had to embark on new product development or suffer a loss in market share. Brilliantly understated, and very much in line with the persona of Mike McKenna, who appears more like a conservative accountant than the astute marketer with some undeniable flair that he is. What McKenna and his team have done is to create a game nothing like the cricket I grew up on. They knew exactly who they were targeting, and were unapologetic in designing it to appeal first and foremost to kids and their families. It is the ultimate in market segmentation: different strokes for different folks. The cricket purist could still pursue their passion with Test and ODI formats, but a new generation was going to be engaged and entertained. Hence along with the short form, more intense cricket of BBL, came the music, fireworks, dancers and acrobats. But before the dancers and big hitters, a
major change program had to be put into play. The new competition had to supersede a state-based format. It required six statebased organisations steeped in parochial and heritage baggage, giving up turf. At the same the development of eight new city-based teams (two each in Melbourne and Sydney), rules around player recruitment, new team names, new team colours and uniforms, new ownership structures, new competition rules. The brief in a branding sense was to create distinctive DNA for each team around names that conveyed a sense of energy and had an urban edge. Names derived from animal species were out and names such as Renegades in. But what is interesting is the influence that climatic conditions had in the team naming, with names such as Hurricanes, Thunder, Heat and Scorchers. Perhaps it is Cricket Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way of subtly reminding us of the perils of climate change. Regardless of what the teams were called, the mindset was always one of orchestrating
The Melbourne Review March 2014 11
What McKenna and his team have done is to create a game nothing like the cricket I grew up on. They knew exactly who they were targeting, and were unapologetic in designing it to appeal first and foremost to kids and their families. It is the ultimate in market segmentation: different strokes for different folks.”
immediate team rivalry, and a sense of tribal loyalty amongst young supporters: to have young cricket followers adopt and follow a team with a true competitive passion. The city-based structure facilitated an immediate rivalry, and interestingly, Melbourne and Sydney with two
teams each, have been less able to harness the same level of intense team support as the others. To illustrate the magnitude of what cricket has achieved, consider applying a similar
scenario to Aussie Rules. Imagine the AFL reducing the current season to 16 rounds and a final series. Allowing a short break for players and then starting a new competition, with newly named teams being formed from the total pool of players. Rules for the new format game that are designed to highlight the absolute best of Aussie Rules would have to be developed. New rules that demand big pack marks and penalise uncontested marks.
Rules that disproportionately reward players who are able to evade the opposition, who carry bouncing the ball for more than 75 metres. Awarding twelve points for goals kicked using a torpedo punt or drop kick. Can you imagine the AFL creating a new format game that operated outside the current club structure, but was capable of working along side the current competition? It would never happen. The magnitude of change required would need a paradigm shift way beyond what clubs and the AFL could ever muster. The AFL already finds it impossible to run a state of origin competition alongside the normal season. The above is not a criticism of the AFL, simply an analogy that serves to highlight something of the magnitude of what Cricket Australia has achieved. The Big Bash League is not everyone’s cup of tea - it is not meant to be. But it does appear to be hitting a six with kids and their families, and that is precisely what it was born to do.
»»Peter Singline is a co-founder and director of Truly Deeply, a Melbourne based strategy and design consultancy. trulydeeply.com.au
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12 The Melbourne Review March 2014
BUSINESS There are very few people, if any, who save ten thousand dollars a year for fifty years to buy a home free of debt when they turn 75.” approval of an unsolicited proposal from private sector group the Rail Transformation Consortium to upgrade the Dandenong rail corridor, is a good move forward. Private investment not only boosts the funding stream, it has the added advantage of keeping borrowings off the government’s bottom line, thereby helping to protect the AAA rating. While PPPs provide a good alternative funding option to government only dollars, private investments do however come at a cost as they generally carry with them much higher interest rates than government borrowings.
AAA rating Let’s get over our obsession with the budget surplus and AAA rating and invest in the future. by Kate Roffey
n the mid-1980s, the Economist magazine observed, “If you look at history, Australia is one of the best managers of adversity the world has seen, and the worst managers of prosperity.” As we approach the November election, no doubt we will continue to hear more about the strength of the Victorian economy. Being the only Australian state left with a budget surplus and an AAA rating on a stable outlook, you could be excused for thinking Victoria is racing ahead of the pack in terms of economic stimulus and investment. But as we closely watch other cities – Sydney in particular – rapidly overtaking us as a city willing to take risks to invest in the future, you
have to wonder why, if we are in such a strong fiscal position, are we not seeing more activity? Probably because we have become so obsessed with protecting the budget surplus and AAA rating, we have forgotten a basic principle of growth – investing for the future. As individuals we do this every day. There are very few people, if any, who save ten thousand dollars a year for fifty years to buy a home free of debt when they turn 75. Instead, we borrow now to buy an asset that appreciates over the years as we pay off that debt, and at the same time enjoy living in our own home. It seems nonsensical then, for any government in a position of budget surplus, and with an AAA credit rating that allows them to borrow at the most competitive interest rates,
to not be borrowing now, to invest for a more prosperous economic future. Much of the fear around talking about ‘debt’ is underpinned by the general misconception that any debt is bad debt. This is not the case. There is indeed bad debt – short-term debt incurred by borrowing to meet recurrent costs. Voters should ensure government is not borrowing on a short-term basis to cover ongoing costs that can’t be met. This is a case of poor budgeting. In contrast, long-term debt – borrowing to invest in enduring productivity enhancing initiatives, like major city-shaping infrastructure – should be encouraged. This is good debt that facilitates investment in projects that improve productivity and liveability, and create an ongoing legacy for future generations. Of course government funds alone are not the only option available for investment. There are enormous volumes of private dollars on offer, (AustralianSuper alone indicates they have over $2 billion to invest in suitable projects), and public private partnership arrangements, or PPPs, are becoming more popular as funding options.
In addition, being relatively risk averse, many potential private investors are seeking projects that guarantee a return on investment over a long-term timeframe. Having been burnt recently by a range of projects that have not delivered on projected returns, private investors now consider many essential infrastructure projects too high-risk to fund up-front. Instead, the preference is to invest in established brownfield projects that have been proven to deliver expected returns on investment, leaving us with the problem of how to get new greenfield projects off the ground. And back to government dollars we go as the key source of funding to get essential projects started. The Committee for Melbourne has been a strong advocate of the need to encourage the use of more private investment and direct and indirect user pays initiatives to help increase the pool of funding available for major projects. A lot of positive traction has been gained in this space and we are starting to actively utilise a much broader range of funding options to fill our infrastructure development gap. But we will always need some government investment to support major project developments like transport infrastructure. Private investors are proactively seeking options. Direct and indirect beneficiaries understand the need to contribute. Now we just need to convince government that investing in the future through well-managed borrowing is not only sensible, it is essential for the productive growth and development of Melbourne and Victoria.
»»Kate Roffey is CEO, Committee for Melbourne.
Utilising private funds, as the Napthine government has recently done with their
The Melbourne Review March 2014 13
OPINION Modern Times Art and Evolution BY Andrew Hunter
ukio Mishima rose to prominence in the late 1940s. Mystical nationalism, the virtues of the Imperial Japanese Army and the idealisation of the samurai spirit were themes that connected Mishima’s novels, plays and short stories. Although the prodigiously gifted Mishima was thrice nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature, his political views were widely ridiculed during his lifetime. In 1970, Mishima committed ritual suicide after a failed coup d’état. He was 45. Mishima was not the only Japanese novelist to use his art form in defence of an ideology that was discredited following the Pacific War. Shintaro Ishihara, a close friend and contemporary of Mishima’s, started his career as a novelist but subsequently entered politics. Ishihara, now the leader of the second largest political party in the National Diet, continues to write prolifically. His most recent offering is entitled The Poison of Peace. It is deeply troubling that Mishima is today promoted as a national literary hero. New editions of his works feature prominently in every bookstore in Japan. The novel is not, however, the only popular expression of revisionist or xenophobic nationalism. Many serials of wildly popular manga comics focussed on Japan’s role in the Pacific War, which take extraordinary liberties with the facts, have also become wildly popular. The thinking conveyed through these popular artistic forms echoes a disquieting reality: ultra-nationalists have returned to a position of influence in modern Japan. Reports of violence targeted at ethnic minorities in Japan increased dramatically last year. The Zaitokukai, a far-right organisation, have become increasingly active, staging protests in front of schools attended by ethnic-Korean students. During this period, the government has adopted a more confrontational foreign policy vis-à-vis China and the Koreas. Last December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe further inflamed tensions in the region when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine, where convicted war criminals are buried among the 2.5 million Japanese soldiers. Over thirty million people died in the second Sino-Japanese War alone. Nationalism should have been long since interred by its actions. Although thoroughly rejected following Pacific War and subsequent American-led Allied occupation, its dull pulse was kept constant in dark corners of Japanese society. Shadowy, financed and well-connected ultranationalist
The past makes its appearance again, with all its mingled dreams and aspirations, the delicate tarnish of falsehood left undisturbed upon its silver.” From Runaway Horses (Mishima)
organisations remained active throughout the post-war period. The novel provided an avenue for nationalism as a philosophical or ideological expression. The art of the novel is an exploration of the potential of humans - both good and bad. In literature, as in politics, words are important because they endure. But if the novel can play a role returning ultra-nationalism into a viable political expression in Japan, it can also provide a path to resistance, helping to turn the tide of insularity and fear. With a rich potential to influence comes great responsibility. Haruki Murakami is Japan’s best-selling novelist. Although frequently criticised by the literary establishment in Japan, he has received international acclaim and a number of awards for his literary work. Murakami has also been an outspoken critic of the insidious creep of
nationalism. In late 2012, he warned politicians of the dangers of drinking the “cheap liquor’’ of nationalism. Unfortunately, Murakami has yet to use his novels to explore the potential for a positive, inclusive future for Japan and for its role in the region. Murakami seems intent on escaping the Japanese condition, rather than shaping it. Now, more than ever, progressive artists need to have the courage to use their considerable influence to propose an alternative to the narrow conservatism to which the world increasingly appears captive. Writers and other artists need to commit anew to the exploration of humanity’s potential for good. This is as relevant to Australia as it is to Japan. Artists have a powerful role to play if we are to help avoid the resurrection of a politics that proved devastating in the past. Former
Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, recently reflected: “I always thought the arts were central to a country, central to a society, holding up a mirror to itself, celebrating itself.” The arts can also help shape the future. In Australia, music perhaps provides the most potent avenue through which to encourage a change in cultural attitudes. Which Australian musician will have the courage today to stand up and offer an alternative voice to the diet of dehumanising language and half-truths the Australian people are fed in respect to the detention of asylum seekers? Are we destined to feel “the delicate tarnish of falsehood left undisturbed upon” the silver of our national conscience? Popular cultural expressions such as literature, film, animation, music, even sport, have the potential to reverse the recent restoration of intolerance, insularity and fear. The arts have a profound potential for positive intercultural exchange and evolutionary progress, if only those who value peace and harmony grasp the potential of brush, pen and voice.
»»Andrew Hunter is the National Chair of Australian Fabians
14 The Melbourne Review March 2014
COLUMNISTS Let Them Rest In Peace “A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!” Merchant of Venice
BY Shirley Stott Despoja
Six Square Metres BY Margaret Simons
y compost bin is falling apart. It is an Aerobin, the extra expensive type that is vermin proof, with the internal chimney which, when it is working, keeps everything cooking and sweet without the need for turning. For nearly eight years it has served me well, but now it is sagging at the seams. The rats can get in, and the compost falls out. Last weekend, in a frenzy of gardening in preparation for the autumn flush, I put on my oldest gardening trousers and took the bin apart, digging out the compost ready for the garden bed. I intended to rebuild the compost bin once it was empty. I was half way through the job when a turn of the shovel brought down a nest of half a dozen tiny baby rats - pink and hairless, with blind bulbous heads straining for a teat. A very fat mother rat ran out under my feet a moment later. What to do? Living in the inner suburbs, and right next to a McDonald’s restaurant, I have long ago overcome my reservations about laying out rat bait. Either one does it, or one is overrun. But – these were babies, right in front of me. And mother had gone. Some months ago I cooked dinner for a friend who is a hard-line vegan. I find such meals a challenge. Vegetarian is easy. We often have meatless meals. But this time I found myself constantly wanting to reach for the forbidden. Fish sauce. Chicken stock. Cream and milk. All of it, as my friend would say, involving death and exploitation. We got through with garlic mushrooms (minus the parmesan) and pea soup (on vegetable stock) with good bread and cream on the side for those who wanted to add it. When it came to dessert, I offered fruit with
honey, only to find that this product of bees is also off the vegan list. “But bees make honey anyway, don’t they?” I asked, and got a small talk on the cruelty of stealing it from them, smoking the bees – all the nastiness of honey factory farming. A few days later my friend sent links to websites that backed her up. I was impressed, even awed, by her consistency. And now I, the honey-eater, stood shovel in hand over the hairless baby rats. I knew I couldn’t raise them, and of course I didn’t really want to. I try to get rid of rats. I wasn’t sure if the mother would come back if I simply left them. And even if she did, why would I preserve the rats when I also laid rat bait? I thought about burying them in the garden with the compost – but burying them alive was surely not a kindness. It was cowardice. I went inside and made a cup of tea and drank it slowly, watching from the window, not knowing if I was hoping for mother rat to come back. She didn’t. After half an hour I went back out and saw the little babies still straining blindly. I stood transfixed. It was cruel to leave them like that. I brought the shovel down on them – once, twice, thrice – and killed them outright, before shoveling the compost on the garden. That night I didn’t sleep. And the next day I attempted to rebuild the compost bin so that it didn’t bulge and sag, so that it would once again be ratproof. It hasn’t worked. Today I bought gaffer tape, hoping to be able to stick it together. If this fails, and I think it will, I will need to buy another bin.
ormer army special services commander, James Brown, has said that Anzac Day has become a military Halloween, a lavish festival of the dead. That for me is a description not only of the centenary commemorations starting this year, but of every Anzac Day for quite a long time, with the exception of some rural and street corner services. Third Agers are among those who detest this. Little kids sobbing in the streets saying “They died for us”; teenagers, with pious fervour, placing wreaths and scripted to say, “They died for freedom”; inflated prose, macabre tourism... That’s what Anzac Day has become. And all the time we know that the Anzacs, those who survived, had devised for themselves the perfect commemoration... the dawn service and a simple march, and maybe a picnic after. We have forgotten that, and their taste for simplicity and contemplation on the day. We have not shown them respect by ignoring that. By the time the centenary festivities are done, the day will become like Olympic Games opening ceremonies, each successive Anzac Day outdoing the ones before. The funeral games. Stop: who are we commemorating here? Mostly, a bunch of kids. Kids who grew up horribly fast when they found that there was no glory in war, only suffering, horror and loss. Aussie and NZ kids, some with horses they loved, wanting to get away from home for a bit, see the world, have some adventures, serve the Mother Country. They became brave and sometimes heroic and damaged and dead. They called for their mothers as they died. Survivors came home to a life forever changed by what they had seen and endured. And, try not to forget this (it so often is): their families suffered from their anger and sadness, particularly their anger. I knew these men, some of them, and one of them was my father. They would hate what is planned for this year. They felt the absence of the young dead as we cannot and we should not try to stage it. Their families watched them booze away their pain, many of them. Watched them die young after the peace. Or live on with lingering illnesses and neuroses. That kind of pain must not be belittled by being commemorated by a circus, and worst of all, the patronising speakers who have worked the thesaurus for variants of blood sacrifice, spirit, legacy, pride, ethos; hoping reflected glory will come to them
as they pull a long face and sing hymns out of tune. And by manipulated children with designer tears. If I had ever thought of going to Gallipoli for the festival of the dead, my father’s voice in my head would have scared me off. That voice is authenticated by his war diary. War politicised him. It didn’t ennoble or soften him. The speech he might have made on this April 15 would scare the pants off the Prime Minister and other worshipping bigwigs. Reserved as most returned WW1 personnel were, I believe they would have found their voice to condemn the military Halloween. Let them rest in peace. Look after the present survivors or war, as James Brown insists. Teach kids to detest and resist war, to get on with our neighbours, and to seek glory, if they need it, in life-affirming work. That’s it. *** *** *** One of the useful things I did in my earlier life was to challenge the extraordinary powers of the Australian Bureau of (Census and) Statistics when they insisted I take part in a nine-month household survey that included invasive questions such as “do you have wheezes in your chest?” But it was on grounds of security I refused to answer, even though the ABS has always claimed that its information was secure and their questioners entrusted with private information above reproach. I was prosecuted, I defended – and won. It seems I was the only successful refusenik, but that might have changed since this occurred in the 80s. How happy were my supporters (and there were many), who objected to these inquisitions to which one must reply or pay (then) $100 per day per unanswered question for as long as the question remained unanswered. There is now a healthy internet rebellion about such compulsory surveys. My case gets honourable mention. And now the ABS has popped up again at my door. I was sick with a killer virus for their first call and the questioner went away. I responded shortly after to a note in the letterbox by phoning, as required, telling them the virus still had me in its grip. I asked them ever so politely to stay away. But will they? After nearly 30 years, they are after me again, readers. Will the questions this time include really awful ones like “Are you incontinent,” “Do you have an opinion of smokers?” as they did in the past? How this old woman longs to tell them to bugger off.
The Melbourne Review March 2014 15
Irregular Writings A Night Under the Stars BY Dave Graney
got a call to appear with a community orchestra for a night in Deep Eastern suburban Melbourne. The Stonnington Symphony was going to a do a programme at the Malvern Gardens on a warm summer’s night, five months in the future. I was asked to choose a couple of my tunes which would then be arranged by a consultant to the orchestra and I would get a fee. Sounded like a cool gig, so I said “yeah”. The months rolled by and then the week of the show came. The arranger, Adam Starr told me he was very happy with the way the songs were sounding. I had chosen one called ‘You’re just too hip, baby’ and ‘All our friends were stars’. He was very happy with both, saying
he was going for a “Mancini-esque” feel and tones with both songs. Sounded even better. The orchestra rehearsed once without me and then on another night with me at their Malvern Town Hall base. A lovely, rococo blue and white iced cake interior it was too. I parked and offered to help a young woman get her harp out of her car. She waved me off and dealt with the task at hand very efficiently. There were footballers and cricketers both training on the oval at this crossover period of the sporting year – the end of summer. I had to play guitar and had brought two as I had to tune one down a semi tune to make some open chords in ‘All our friends were stars’ that Adam had arranged for the strings and horns in E flat. I had two run throughs and it sounded magical. I felt like a total peasant. A whole symphony lifting the chords and melody lines to totally stratospheric heights. Well, planets I’d never been able to take the songs to, anyway. No microphones anywhere. Everybody playing their parts, yet part of a greater thing. Everybody following the conductor. The song has a very Latin groove, a bossa nova style. Had to move the percussionist near us (me and Clare Moore and Stu Thomas, who were
singing backing vocals). The focus was on the song, they were all reading the flysheet and I was playing the song like I’d done for years in the bars. Adam, the arranger had trashed himself in an auto accident and had broken some bones. He promised to be at the gig on the night and run the grooves with a loud Guiro. The other song, ‘You’re just too hip, baby’ is a stone groove and the arrangement has a mad breakdown with strings, horns and percussion bumps, trills, crashes and farts that I have to turn and marvel. The conductor is a very commanding and professional young man called Roy Theaker. He knows how to communicate to all sorts of people. That’s good because a community orchestra like this is actually very much composed of all sorts of people. Retirees, students, lawyers, dentists, doctors, misfits, working jazz musicians. All sorts. He knows how to talk. The gig goes down so well. A lovely end of summer evening. 4,500 people out in the darkened gardens with blankets and picnic baskets. Totally civilized. I wear a pink velvet suit for the occasion. The volume of the orchestra is amazing. I mean it has a real
dynamic range and can swell, sing and thunder like nothing else. There are around nine community symphonies in the Melbourne region. Preston, Heidelberg, Whitehorse (Box Hill), Essendon, South Melbourne, Maroondah (Ringwood) and the Melbourne Community Orchestra and Zelman Symphony which don’t seem to be attached to any particular area. Volunteer, not for profit operations. Total community events and aspirations. If you’re in an area with that sort of thing happening, treasure it. Think how hard it would be to start something like that off from scratch in this world we have on us right now.
stonningtonsymphony.org.au prestonsymphony.org.au heidelbergsymphony.com.au whitehorseorchestra.org.au essendonsymphony.com music.systemsolve.net/maroondah melbournesinfonia.org.au home.vicnet.net.au/~smso/intro.htm mcorchestra.org zelmansymphony.org.au
16 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014
THE SECRET MAKER OF THE WORLD Abbas El-Zein / UQP
BY DAVID SORNIG
There’s a reason I sometimes enjoy indulging in an afternoon of listening to a good dose of Dad Rock, albums like Exile on Main Street, Who’s Next and Led Zeppelin II. It’s because they’re more-or-less no bullshit rock’n’roll, of the kind that’s kinked with a storytelling style that’s sometimes swaggering, sometimes sharpwitted, but mostly just straight from the heart. There’s ventriloquism there, but it seems to come from a place that its makers think is true. Reading Abbas El-Zein’s new collection of short stories, The Secret Maker of the World, is a little like tuning into one of these albums. The stories are straight-up, with little by way of conscious literary tricksy. Its characters come at us from places of extreme or unusual experience, from diverse historical periods and geographical spread, but also try to get across some of their mundanity: a sniper in war-torn Beirut; a boatman on the Yellow River who, for a fee, will collect the bodies he ﬁnds carried
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on the current; a deaf Iraqi woman’s diary romanticises her search for her lover who has ﬂed to join the insurgency. Everyone wants to survive, to make a living, to live to see another day. Some make it, some don’t. While the range of voices that El-Zein performs leans mostly on a static third person, some play a little further away from that place of narratorial reliability. There’s an affecting and deliberate shift, for example, in ‘Respect’ in which Mohammed, an Afghan construction worker who has been attached to projects around the world, addresses David, an apparently dismissive and arrogant Australian engineer. Mohammed’s soliloquy assumes a tone of defence, an accounting for himself that demands the respect he believes David hasn’t afforded him. The story of Mohammed’s departure from his boyhood village to take up his role as a bit player in the global economy carries a deeply wrought and finely-balanced sense of loss, excitement and fear. To understand someone’s story, to know what they have sacriﬁced to be where they are, to know what they know, is the very fabric of respect. But in its use of the second person and its confessional control over the telling of a story, ‘Respect’ also gives a hint to its true shape, in that it shares something with another, much older, classic that uses the same technique: Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’ ‘Bird’s Eye,’ also stands out in its imagined account of the historically real thirteenthcentury geographer Yaqut al Hamaoui as he prepares to ﬂee the city of Merv, which is soon to be overrun by the Mongols. Its style recalls the novels of Orhan Pamuk, particularly in its close following of its central character’s deliberations, the sweeping back and forth between imagination, memory, dream and reality. Borges is there too, in the moment Yaqut loses himself while writing in a confusion, a sudden realisation that he might not be himself, but rather ‘the tool of some divine science; a poor go-between in the service of a bigger and better intelligence.’ Like every good album, there are a couple of singles here that have been polished a little more closely than the rest of the collection. It’s reassuring to ﬁnd that these hits rest on a solid bedrock of storytelling.
P E R F O R M I N G
A R T S
P O L I T I C S
THE INVENTION OF WINGS
THE BLAZING WORLD
Sue Monk Kidd / Hachette
Siri Hustvedt / Sceptre
BY HELEN DINMORE
BY TALI LAVI
The twin narratives of bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd’s latest novel focus on the lives of two women: the historical ﬁgure of Sarah Grimké, who was born into a wealthy, southern American slave-owning family but rose to be a prominent abolitionist and feminist, and a Grimké family slave named Handful, who grows up alongside her. The story opens with the gift of young Handful to Sarah on her eleventh birthday, an act which shocks both girls and begins a tale of transformation and rebellion. It is a long, painful journey into womanhood, as they each negotiate the oppressive constraints of the times on their respective ambitions and ideas of selfhood. The story is heavily imaginative, taking as its subject the less-documented early part of Sarah’s life, and inventing a future for a slave girl. Yet this moving and absorbing read draws weight from rich historical detail, depicting nineteenth century Charleston as a city of inhuman horrors for the enslaved and illuminating to some extent the fascinating politics of the abolitionist movement.
In Vinegar Tom, one of Caryl Churchill’s political plays of the 1970s, a character sings of her female predicament, `Nobody ever saw me/ She whispered in a rage/ They were blinded by my beauty, now/ They’re blinded by my age.’ For Harriet Burden, the subject of Siri Hustvedt’s latest work of effulgence, these lyrics would exactly mirror her reality if altered to `They were blinded by my sexuality’ rather than `beauty’. A carnivalesque novel, with its ﬂuid and vibrant polyphonies, The Blazing World resists deﬁnitions. It is presented as an annotated collection of personal writings by Harriet, known to her friends as Harry, intersected by interviews and transcripts of family, lover, friends and art critics. At its heart lies an enigma posed by the ﬁctional editor: did Burden orchestrate an accomplished art hoax and to what degree? An overlooked artist better known as the rich widow of an eminent art dealer whose reputation recently beneﬁted from a well-
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FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER The Melbourne Review Quality writing on the arts, culture, ideas, knowledge, health, science, politics, design, planning, entertainment, gastronomy, technology, business and finance. facebook.com/TheMelbourneReview THe MeLBOUrNe
The Melbourne Review March 2014 17
received posthumous retrospective, Burden conceived of the project named `Maskings’, wherein three male artists would pose as required fronts for her work, thus interrogating double standards around gender and examining `Why do people see what they see?’ Burden’s writings veer from a highly theoretical tone of philosophical discussions, citing Kierkegaard, Spinoza, the seventeenth century trailblazer Margaret Cavendish and others, traversing ideas of neuroscience and psychoanalysis to questions of authenticity - concerns previously echoed in Hustvedt’s non-fiction explorations such as The Shaking Woman or A Plea for Eros. Opposing what might have constituted a dry academic voice is the force of this formidable woman’s character. Burden erupts from the page, a conflagration of rage and creative energy, flawed and magisterial. As in Hustvedt’s superb What I Loved, the art world is intimately delineated and the artworks as lovingly and painstakingly described, so that one finds oneself regarding these animated threedimensional figures with a kind of hushed awe, as if situated in the same room. Sly references, including to the fictional Bill Wechsler and the very-real Hustvedt, appear throughout, but rather than amount to a work of cold riddles, it remains grounded in the human experience. Several years ago a conversation with Hustvedt and husband Paul Auster took place in Melbourne, chaired by an eminent Australian critic who posited that Hustvedt’s work might be categorised as `domestic fiction’ whilst Auster’s was more `intellectual’. The slap conferred by the comment reverberated amongst those of us who understood its implications and Hustvedt strongly rejected this misconception. The writer, like Burden, is unafraid of exhibiting her considerable intellect. Unlike her creation, Hustvedt has enjoyed critical success during her lifetime but is not blind to the workings of the world; even after her daunting output she must still contend with diminishing remarks of this type. Hopefully, the critic thinks back to that evening as a moment of his own irrationality. Like Burden’s `Maskings’, this brave and uncompromising book works as an act of revenge, but also oh-so-much more, defying categorisation as it sears itself into one’s consciousness.
Emily Goddard, Tom Conroy and Leticia Caceres.
Sophie Ross and Virginia Gay.
Melbourne Theatre Company The opening of the Australian premiere of Cock was held on January 31. The Mike Bartlett play was directed by MTC Associate Director Leticia Caceres and featured original music by Missy Higgins.
Photos Heath Warwick
Michael Lindner and James Stafford.
Dan Lee, Missy Higgins, Breeze Callahan and Jesse Spence.
Missy Higgins and Magda Szubanski.
» TO SEE MORE SOCIAL IMAGES VISIT MELBOURNEREVIEW.COM.AU
18 The Melbourne Review March 2014
PERFORMING ARTS at the Meat Market in North Melbourne. “We’ll keep building and adding to the space with projections, prints, props and performances,” explains Meneghetti. “The audience is free to roam around and explore the space and come and go as they please. If you come at ten o’clock you’ll have a very different experience as if you come at 5 o’clock, it will be constantly changing.” Performprint will explore different possibilities in printmaking. One of the performances involves text being carved into skateboard wheels and rolled in ink. Then skateboarders ride on a skateboard ramp, printing text up and down the ramp. They have also invited the United Harley Davidson Riders Association along. Taken to its absolute extreme, the day will end with a live human branding. “All the performances that we are doing on the day, all the acts, they all reference print making technique, like the copy or the reproduction of imagery,” Meneghetti explains. “It all feeds back into the idea of exploring masculinity.”
Festival of Live Art A new festival promises to shock, amuse and engage Melbournians. by Anna Snoekstra
n exciting new festival will inhabit Melbourne this month. The Festival of Live Art will move between Arts House in North Melbourne, Theatre Works in St Kilda and Footscray Arts Centre in Footscray. “We were really interested in the idea of creating a festival that literally moved people and moved itself across the city,” explains Angharad WynneJones, the Creative Producer at Arts House. The concept of `live art’ is an entirely new idea for some. “It’s something that tries to describe a relationship with a participant that’s really active and engaged,” Wynne-Jones explains. “It really is a mixture of connections into the theatre world, into the dance world, into the visual art world but it places the audience at the
centre of the experience. How that’s expressed might be a one-on-one theatre experience or it might be a durational work that feels more like an installation that you might see in a gallery or something like Game Show, which involves 120 participants. So within it, there is a whole range of different experiences, but at its heart, I think, it’s about the relationship with the audience as being a participant of the work and sometimes even being a co-creator of the work.” A good example of this is Game Show, where the audience can participate as performers, contestants and studio audience of this epic contemporary art piece where Tristan Meecham, co-creator and host, showcases all his possessions as potential prizes.
“The conceptual point for us was the idea of copy has always been secondary in nature,” adds Gailer. “Through its reproductive nature it has feminine connotations and we are coming from a completely different perspective and putting this out there as a possible idea to overturn existing paradigms that the copy isn’t a secondary thing, it’s a primary thing. We use the masculine ritual as an irreverent display of printmaking as masculine.” “It’s an over the top spectacle that comments on materialism, fame and greed,” suggests Meecham. “Game Show has come out of my own obsession with fame and the grotesque nature of that. It’s putting me through the wringer in terms of the emotional impact of giving away all the possessions that I own; everything from the personal, to the expensive to the sentimental to the embarrassing as well. It’s a little bit intense to have everything you own on show. It dates back to early childhood, toys and certificates right up to stuff I own in my apartment now.’ Although Meecham feels it’s important to note that the work will be a lot of fun. “It’s really important to celebrate things rather than alienate things. The work can be viewed as just entertainment as well as a conceptual art piece.” In addition to the audience involvement, the piece will include performances from community groups such as The Body Electric dancers and THECHO!R with Dr Jonathon Welch AM. All profits from the Friday performance go to Welch’s The Choir of Hard Knocks. Taking Live Art in a completely different direction are Joel Gailer and Michael Meneghetti with Performprint, a ten-hour exploration of masculinity and printmaking
Offering another entirely different experience of Live Art is Leisa Shelton with her project Mapping. Shelton will engage with her long history of involvement with Live Art practice to create a living archive on the subject. She will engage older artists and give a sense of Australian history that is undocumented. “Mapping is the first stage of a much longer, larger project which is looking for a way, through practice to created archives and lineage,” she explains. Mapping will engage ephemeral forms like memory to create these archives. “It’s an interview process and an archival process. So it is about a person sitting with another person, handwriting and speaking and marking time, place and event. The key thing from an audience perspective is that the project is aiming to give them agency, it gives value to their experience, over and above what an academy or an already documented field will do.”
»»The Festival of Live Art runs from March 14 to March 30 melbourne.vic.gov.au fola.com.au
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 19
The 24 Hour Experience Experience twenty-four entirely different perspectives of Melbourne within this living documentary of our city. BY ANNA SNOEKSTRA
n conjunction with the Festival of Live Art is The 24 Hour Experience. Each hour, on the hour, the audience is led to a different location in Melbourne to experience a live art performance. From the underground toilets near Parliament Station, to the Old Magistrates’ Court, arrays of experiences are on offer. “It’s really the idea that audiences are taken on a journey in and out of different aspects of the city. So it’s almost like the audience are actually living a documentary portrayal of different perspectives of Melbourne,” explains Gorkem Acaroglu, the Executive Creative Director. “People arrive just before midday and receive a survival pack, which will include their backpack, a carry stool, snacks and everything for wet weather,” she says. “We will be giving
them meals within the pieces and there are works in the later hours, where they can lie down and let it wash over them. We are catering to the whole experience of 24 hours.” hundred years of minutes. The works are very diverse in form. There are the more traditional performances with actors, such as Aaron Peterson, who’s doing a one-man show at the Wesley Church, as well as some where the audience becomes the work. The festival also offers a peek into some lesser-known aspects of Melbourne. There is dinner at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre where the audience is included in a meeting of the Catalyst Club, a secret women’s society in Melbourne that has been around for more than a century. The artist of this piece has constructed a recreated meeting based on a
“At 4am the audience will be taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine,” Acaroglu explains, running through some of her personal favourites, “they will be engaging with pathologists and forensic scientists that work there who will take them through the ﬁrst 24 hours that happens to a body when it arrives. It’s quite a unique insight. “Then there is Bathing Beauties at the city baths; a fully choreographed, synchronised swimming super soundscape about what it’s
» The 24 Hour Experience runs from midday March 29 to midday March 30. 24hourexperience.com.au
American Blues Magazine Maggie Gerrand presents
For the first time in Australia
God said: ‘Love thy neighbour’ He obviously hadn’t met Ana
‘A wonderful and wonder-filled story.’
with The Copper Bottom Band performing an eclectic mix of blues, tango, Southern and South American music
‘Nevin is superb.’
Saturday 19 April Palais Theatre ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100
The Daily Telegraph
17 Mar – 26 Apr Southbank Theatre Book now mtc.com.au
There are 24-hour passes available as well as, for the slightly less resilient, 12-hour passes on offer for this intimate experience of Melbourne.
“A rousing, wickedly entertaining, deeply memorable live show.”
by Lally Katz
Major Partner Opening Night
like to be an athlete as you progress through ageing.”
A Belvoir production
MTC is a department of the University of Melbourne
20 The Melbourne Review March 2014
Music and Politics by Peter Tregear
enezuela has been much in the news of late – burgeoning economic and social pressures there have triggered massive rolling street protests with violent results. Parallels with the situation in the Ukraine are inviting, but whereas the Ukraine is being fractured by historical and ethnic ghosts and contemporary geopolitical forces, Venezuela’s tale of woe seems to be more based around that other stable of human conflict, class. For musicians, this makes the conflict there a potentially especially troubling one, for Venezuela is also the country that gave birth to the music education program known as El Sistema (literally, ‘the system’), a government-funded voluntary music education program founded in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu. Its greatest achievement has been to realize a vision of mass musical education as ‘an agent of social development’; it has indeed offered countless young people, often living in extreme poverty, a way to avoid otherwise seemingly inevitable life trajectories mired in crime and drugabuse. In more recent years El Sistema has also become one of the best known and lauded aspects of the socialist vision of the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. Its most successful global exports have been the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and the conductor Gustavo Dudamel, but the programme itself has also been replicated in various forms and scale around the world (including serving as the founding inspiration for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s educational program with Meadows Primary School in Broadmeadows). El Sistema and the current government are intimately connected, however, and as one commentator recently put it, ‘the optics of this connection are proving increasingly problematic’. So it was perhaps no surprise that public criticism would eventually be directed its way, as it was recently by Venezuelan-American pianist Gabriela Montero in an open letter to Dudamel and Abreu in February. In it she wrote: ‘I think the time has come for me as an artist, Venezuelan, woman and mother to write a letter to Jose Antonio Abreu and Gustavo Dudamel’ because, as she put it bluntly, ‘they played a concert while their people were being massacred.’ ‘Music, ambition,
fame’, she continued, ‘are worthless next to human suffering. They mean nothing when you are abused, injured and killed. No more excuses. No more “Artists are above and beyond everything”. No more “We do it for the kids”.’ Her criticism of the apparent disconnect between music (and musicians) in Venezuela and the country’s dire political situation has divided opinion, with many quick to defend both Dudamel and Abreu, the good work they continue to do, and more broadly the perceived right of music (and thus musicians) to be elevated from such worldly concerns. Even here there is a lot at stake as the global musical capital that El Sistema carries remains considerable – most notably it continues to provide a foundation for the careers of the next generation of ‘superstar’ conductors. A prime example is Ilyich Rivas, who being only born in 1993, must surely count as the youngest ever international artist to be invited to contribute his expertise to the Australian National Academy of Music. Rivas is not, however, someone whose otherwise predestined grim life of poverty has been turned around by music; his father Alejandro Rivas was for a number of seasons the Music Director of the Metropolitan State Symphony Orchestra
in Denver, and he himself spent most of his teenage years studying abroad. Similarly, the promotional biography of twenty-seven-yearold conductor and violinist Diego Matheuz, recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the MSO, is heavy on the career marks of a rising star in the international orchestral touring circuit. El Sistema is acknowledged for having provided exceptional development opportunities, but there is no mention of the broader context, anything that might stray into overtly political territory. This maybe how it must be when one enters the elite world of global arts management (though one notes that five visual artists recently withdrew from the 19th Biennale of Sydney ‘to send a message to sponsor Transfield that we will not add value to their brand and its inhumane enterprise’ because of their expanding management of Manus Island and Nauru immigration detention centres.) Or maybe, more specifically, it is how it must be once one enters that end of global music economy (a recent LA Times article noted that Dudamel is one of the USA’s highestcompensated conductors). Gabriel Montero’s response to those who said she was expecting too much from such musicians, however, was blunt. ‘Without a [viable] country, there will be nothing. Including El Sistema.’
Fortunately for us, Australia is wracked by no problems of the scale that afflict Venezuela and the Ukraine, but that is not to say that we can just be ‘relaxed and comfortable’ either. The Gonski Review, for instance, notes that educational inequality is today ‘far greater in Australia than in many OECD countries’. Perhaps then, the practical lessons of El Sistema could be more usefully, indeed more critically, foregrounded when we engage its musicians. Indeed, as we are fortunate enough to have the freedom to do so, let’s not be afraid of mixing music and politics. After all, the composers of the music that Matheuz will be conducting at his next performance with the MSO – Beethoven and Shostakovich – were prepared to take personal and career risks for the political causes they believed in. Are we still so willing today?
»»The MSO presents ‘Beethoven’s Fifth’ with Diego Matheuz, conductor, on Saturday March 22 at 2:00pm at Hamer Hall. »»Shostakovich Festival Overture Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 Beethoven Symphony No.5 mso.com.au
Simone Young Conducts
The Melbourne Review March 2014 21
Don’t miss the incomparable Simone Young in her only Melbourne performance for 2014. Gala Concert Friday 8 August, 7PM Internationally renowned Australian conductor Simone Young leads the ANAM Orchestra in a moving program that will take audience and musicians on a journey from Messiaen’s otherworldly L’Ascenion to the glory and drama of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Messiaen L’Ascension Dean Viola Concerto Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor Simone Young conductor Brett Dean viola ANAM Orchestra Venue Elisabeth Murdoch Hall Melbourne Recital Centre Tickets Full/Sen $90 Conc $75 Bookings melbournerecital.com.au or (03) 9699 3333
Email your contact details to email@example.com and mention this ad for your chance to win a double pass to ANAM’s next performance, Serenade, on Thursday 3 April,11AM. See anam.com.au for more details
Booking fees may apply
22 The Melbourne Review March 2014
The Devil’s Trill
Mythic Sounds and Storytelling Nordic mythology and natural beauty unify Australia’s most important festival of contemporary music.
by Robert Murray
ust as the Devil always gets the best lines, he also gets the best tunes. In the mythology of music the motif that resonates loudest throughout the centuries is the pact with the Devil. In our own century, Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson was reported to have sold his soul at the crossroads for his superior chops and even Bob Dylan hinted obliquely at a similar deal in a 60 Minutes interview. In fiction, novelist Thomas Mann riffed on the legend in Doctor Faustus where composer Adrian Leverkühn strikes a deadly (and allegorical) bargain. Why only the Devil bestows musical ability is a matter for theologians but perhaps it’s because he’s purportedly a mean fiddler himself, and heaven leans more towards harps and choirs.
by Anna Snoekstra
he Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Recital Centre present the 2014 Metropolis New Music Festival taking place over 12 days at the Melbourne Recital Centre from April 1-12. The program features 10 world premieres as well as nine Australian premieres. “So many of the pieces involved through the whole festival are premieres, being heard in Australia and Melbourne for the very first time,” Huw Humphreys, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Director of Artistic Planning, explains.
One musician above all personifies the diabolical virtuoso – the 19th-century violinist Niccolo Paganini. Paganini displayed his talent at a young age, first on the mandolin, and then on the violin (and later still on viola and guitar). His curious physique seems to have assisted him becoming one of Europe’s greatest and most famous musicians. He was surprisingly gaunt and long-limbed, with exceedingly long fingers and a skull-like face – traits that some have suggested points to a genetic disease of the connective tissue called Marfan Syndrome. He emphasised his slenderness with an outré get-up of tight black clothing, grew his hair long and cultivated a highly artistic manner, arriving at concerts in a black carriage drawn by black horses.
“I think that in a way the most exciting pieces are the ones that are brand new,” Humphreys continues. “Kristian Winther is performing in The Sonata for Violin and Orchestra that Olli Mustonen has written for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. That’s tremendously exciting as it’s the first time the world will get to hear this piece.” The Sonata for Violin and Orchestra is just one of three orchestral concerts conducted by Olli Mustonen, who returns after his previous Beethoven cycle with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The celebrated Finnish conductor, pianist and composer devised the concerts to lead listeners through feelings of mystery and magic. Combining both international and homegrown talent, the theme of mythology and natural beauty unites the festival. The chamber music program includes Six Degrees’ Garden of Earthly Desire, Plexus featuring tenor Christopher Saunders and Melbourne’s own Forest Collective with The Ice Garden which was influenced by their recent time in the Netherlands and Finland. There is also the world premiere of a new work by Perth composer Elliot Hughes and the Australian premiere of honoured Japanese composer Toshio Hoskawa’s Stunden Blumen. “Almost all of the music that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performs as part of this festival is taken from the Baltic states and
Nordic countries where there is a great history of storytelling; stories being passed down from generation to generation,” Humphreys explains. “So much of the music in this festival is about this theme within the natural world that has arisen from these traditions.”
of Sappho’s Butterflies with soprano Judith Dodsworth. The concerts will also premiere the two winning Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program compositions for 2014, which Humphries calls “an honour and a privilege to be hearing these for the first time.”
Finnish-born Australian composer Auro Go performs Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Dichotomie in its Australian premiere. Pianist Stefan Cassomenos will perform the world premiere
metropolisfestival.com.au melbournerecital.com.au mso.com.au
But all this was mere marketing. Paganini was a genuine phenomenon. Taking techniques that had been around for hundreds of years, Paganini radically extended and recombined them in rapid-fire runs, arpeggios, chords and the eerie whistle of ‘harmonics’ across the entire range of the violin. His skills as a composer – he wrote most of the music he performed – are less appreciated but many of his pieces are striking and memorable. His catchy 24th Caprice for solo violin, for instance, has been the subject of re-workings by Rachmaninov (his ‘Paganini Rhapsody’) and Andrew Lloyd Webber to name just two. Paganini’s success also points to what was a new trend for public concerts and (sometimes literally) swooning fans. Paganini was a rock star. He lived fast too, and was financially ruined later in life when he was forced to liquidate a collection of fine instruments that would make a violinist drool (they’re lucky to be able to borrow a Guaneri these days,
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 23
PERFORMING ARTS forget owning several). When he died he was denied burial in consecrated ground thanks to his sketchy reputation, but was eventually he was installed in a cemetery in Parma. Paganini was not the ﬁrst violinist to encounter the Devil. Giuliani Tartini, a baroque violinist composer claimed that his Sonata in G Minor, nicknamed ‘The Devil’s Trill’, was a transcription of a piece played to him in a dream by Satan himself. Disappointingly, Tartini said that the version he prepared from his recollections fell far short of the dream sonata, but even then it was still his best composition. There were more strings to Tartini’s bow than just being in league with the Devil; he also raised hell by eloping with a girl, and then disappearing in the ensuing fray only to reappear years later in a monastery. A duel ended his performing career, but he was a successful teacher. Compared to this, musicians these days lead very sedate lives, with hardly any swordplay to speak of. Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, performing at Melbourne Recital Centre on March 26, only plays like the Devil - in every other regard she is completely angelic. She showcases her formidable skills (and her 1714 Stradivarius) in the ﬁendishly difﬁcult music of Paganini, Tartini and Vivaldi with Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan in a rare recital for this ideally matched pair of instruments. Expect Italian charm, dazzling virtuosity and maybe even a little black magic.
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» Karen Gomyo & Slava Grigoryan Melbourne Recital Centre March 26 melbournerecital.com.au
5/03/2014 8:51:46 AM
24 The Melbourne Review March 2014
PERFORMING ARTS / WORDS & MUSIC
It’s A Grand Old Song
team song. The writer of ‘On The Road To Gundagai’ received the sum of twenty-five guineas for his efforts, which it’s said he promptly donated to the team’s end of season trip. Footy trips have proved to be fertile ground for lyric writing, with the words to the club songs of Carlton, Brisbane and Geelong all said to have been written by the team captains and players while in transit.
AFL team songs hold a special place in the hearts of their supporters. Yet what do we know about their origins and meaning? This month Words & Music explores the history and significance of some of our most cherished footy club songs…
by Phil Kakulas
he team song of an AFL club can be as important to its identity as the club colours or guernsey design. Sung in victory by the winning team and its supporters, the songs traditionally combine a chest-beating lyric with a simple, rousing melody borrowed, more often than not, from a well-known pre-existing musical work. The precedent was set at the beginning by the oldest of the AFL team songs, ‘Good Old Collingwood Forever’. Written in 1906, the song combines an original lyric by Magpies player Tom Nelson with the melody of ‘Goodbye Dolly Gray’, an American song popularised during the Boer War. Nelson may have only played three games for the club, but his lyrics have endured for over a century.
As the VFL expanded into a national competition in the 1980s and beyond, new football teams with new songs were created. Breaking with tradition, teams like West Coast, Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns commissioned wholly original works in contemporary rock styles with varying success.
Good old Collingwood forever We know how to play the game
never found favour with the club’s supporters and Nelson’s original lyrics remain intact to this day.
Side by side we stick together To uphold the Magpies name
The practice of adding new lyrics to a preexisting tune proved popular with the other clubs. The Melbourne Demons reworked the patriotic American song ‘You’re A Grand Old Flag’ shortly after, while Richmond and Hawthorn both adapted tunes from popular musicals for their team songs.
Much to the irritation of rival supporters, the song’s expressions of pride and loyalty give way in the end to a boastful claim of an easy victory over the club’s competitors. Oh, the premiership’s a cakewalk For the good old Collingwood The term ‘cakewalk’ has its origins in slave-era America, where it referred to a walking dance performed by African-American slaves for the prize of a freshly baked cake. Perhaps it was the connotations of the phrase, or simply some recognition of the hubris it reflected, that moved the club to initiate a change to the lyric in the 1980s. The replacement line, ‘there is just one team we favour’,
Until the early 60s, the Richmond Tigers had used the melody of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as the basis of their team song. In 1962 cabaret singer Jack Malcomson, a regular performer at the Tigers’ social club, was asked to pen a new team song. His evocation of ‘Tigerland’, set to the marching band rhythm of show tune ‘Row, Row, Row’, was said to have been so well received by coach and players that they gave it a standing ovation on debut. Songwriter Jack O’Hagan used the sprightly tune of ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ for Hawthorn’s
The recorded version of the Fremantle Dockers’ song combines both old and new approaches, blending Stravinsky’s ‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’ with squealing electric guitars and cheesy brass parts in an aggressive call to arms. If nothing else it is certainly catchy. In 2011, new team on the block, Greater Western Sydney, turned to Harry Angus of The Cat Empire for their team song. He was convinced it should hark back to the ‘oompah-band music’ of the genre’s past. When the players questioned his judgment he responded ‘Do you want to have a song that’s modern now but outdated in ten years… or do you want to have a song that sounds timeless?’ “A song is a hit one day and it’s gone the next,” Angus explained. “These songs exist outside of all that because they are part of our culture. That’s why I decided to do a song that stuck to the tradition of classic team songs.”
»»Phil Kakulas is a songwriter and teacher who plays double bass in The Blackeyed Susans.
ith a name that roughly translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing”, the New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company Shen Yun Performing Arts inevitably holds itself to a high standard. Bringing together dedicated artists from around the world, Shen Yun’s mission is to spur a renaissance of traditional Chinese civilization. The company exclusively showcases two types of dance: classical Chinese dance, and Chinese ethnic and folk dance, revitalising the traditions of the Middle Kingdom’s many peoples. And every season, many of Shen Yun’s classical dances are dedicated to telling stories. In past years, audiences watched in awe as the chariot of the Lord Buddha descended from the skies. They met the ancient heroine Mulan
on the battlefield, and journeyed with the Tang Monk and his disciples—Friar Sand, Pigsy, and the marvelous Monkey King—to the western heavens. They watched Wu Song drink far too much wine for anyone about to go toe-to-toe with a man-eating tiger, and they saw the poet Li Bai receive a visit from the fairies of the Moon Palace, if only in his dreams.
Shen Yun’s story-based dances form a thread that links past and present, transporting audiences to bygone dynasties and far-off places. The chronicle of the Chinese people is long and still unfolding. Through classical Chinese dance, it is a story the entire world can witness.
»»Shen Yun Performing Arts will return to Melbourne Arts Centre State Theatre March 27-30. Tickets: Arts Centre Box Office, Hamer Hall, 100 St Kilda Road. Tel: 1300 182 183. theartscentre.com.au
The Melbourne Review March 2014 25
VISUAL ARTS REVIEW:
Australian Art: A History Sasha Grishin / Miegunyah Press MUP by John Neylon
acking 46 chapters this history of Australian art has weight to go with the heft. My dog-eared little copy of Robert Hughes’ The Art of Australia (revised edition 1970) looks a minnow in comparison. Blame it on population growth. Sasha Grishin, the author of Australian Art: A History estimates that there are 25,000 – 30,000 artists working actively in Australia today. Hughes just escaped the tsunami of mushrooming art courses, organisations, exhibitions, galleries and journals. Likely by the time I’ve typed this sentence another two or three artist sites will have been published on line.
That said and with many more artists at his disposal, Grishin has retained some of the era chunking that held Hughes’s history together. From this perspective this book has a clear narrative structure, which favours chronology over thematic clustering and is the more coherent for it. Why write a new history of Australian art? I suspect the author weighed this question a number of times before heading down that long lonesome trail. That the topography of contemporary Australian art has been in constant churn mode since the 1970s and is populated by new generations of artists dealing with the hybridity and the tensions between dominant and subcultures are good enough reasons for any writer with a sense of destiny to want to try. But there are more, and Grishin has seized the moment. From the outset the author deals with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian art
as two sides of one coin, a rather thick coin it transpires as considerable attention is given to the zones of demarcation that in some other historical accounts are absolute. In citing not only the many examples of cultural interface and exchange between contemporary era Indigenous artists and others, but key instances of early to late colonial explorer/settler encounters with Indigenous art, Grishin enters a strong argument for re-envisaging this divide as dynamic and reciprocal. The second element is that of inclusivity. Recent exhibitions and publications have gone to great pains to demonstrate that the modern to contemporary era has been dynamically expressed through a wide range of art media and forms, beyond painting and sculpture. How refreshing then to find in a major art historical publication, prominently illustrated and interpreted examples of photography (from colonial to present day), printmaking, furniture, some ceramics and architecture. There are big gaps in this representation (such as contemporary furniture/design) and doubtless some hard editorial/design decisions needed to be made. But this writing mindset has meant that (for example) the counter-culture printmaking movement of the late 1960s–70s gets as much space as say the Art Nouveau tendencies in Australian art of the early twentieth century. As it should. Another key element that enlivens the reading is the regular inclusion of voices in the form of extended quotes from artists and others, sometimes statements of intent but other times, extracts from letters and journals. The narrative
is richer for this inclusion. This observation introduces another significant element which gives this publication a special resonance – that of context. To get the balance right between articulating the business of art and the socioeconomic-political contexts that impinge on it is a challenge which Grishin has dealt with in an impressively researched but very readable style. And lastly there is the ‘drill down’ factor, which means that the text is studded with spur trails, listing artists and events for later research. In this way the author has been able to allude to a greater body of practice than could be meaningfully discussed in the book. If Grishin revisits this text in a few years I would expect to see closer scrutiny of what’s happening and emerging in regional Australia and further commentary on new hybridities of time-based practices including sound, video and computer-mediated art. Also public art which is proving to be a circuit breaker in terms of
building art audiences. A decision might have to be made about incorporating the Canberra/ modern architecture feature into an overview of modernism rather than leaving it dangling midpublication. I looked unsuccessfully for some drill down into the nexus between the Adelaide and Melbourne contemporary art ferment of the 1940s, profiling of the ‘Adelaide Angries’ brat pack and the impact of the Ern Malley factor on Adelaide-based modernism. That’s detail that can be addressed down the track. This handsome publication with its comprehensive endnotes invites such close reading and response. It deserves it.
»»Sasha Grishin’s Australian Art: A History is out now from Miegunyah Press. RRP $175.00 (hardback) mup.com.au
15 & 16 March 2014 60 artists exhibiting in 24 eclectic venues across Golden Plains, a picturesque rural area one hour from Melbourne between Geelong and Ballarat. Indulge your taste-buds in award winning local cafes, restaurants and wineries. FREE entry to all venues.
Explore open studios and creative spaces.
l Download the map and find out more on:
www.artstrail.com.au Enquiries 5220 7212
26 The Melbourne Review March 2014
Charles Nodrum Gallery at 30 by Suzanne Fraser
his month Charles Nodrum Gallery is marking its 30th year with the opening of a group exhibition, featuring the work of 30 living artists who currently exhibit with the gallery. Although secondary market sales and artist estates account for a large percentage of the gallery’s business, Charles Nodrum and his team are paying tribute to the sentient achievements of the gallery’s current contributors with this anniversary exhibition. Over the past three decades, Nodrum has earned the reputation as one of Australia’s most influential dealers of local mid 20thcentury and abstract art. His familiarity with
this area of the market was initially gained through experience in galleries and auction houses from the 1970s, as well as his first-hand involvement in the market as a collector of such works. When I asked Nodrum to expand on his choice of artists to exhibit at the gallery over the past 30 years, his response revealed an inherent passion for the business – “it’s pretty intuitive, like choosing your food or clothes, or what you decide to order in a restaurant”. He further emphasised the need for art dealers to be directly invested in such choices for their gallery – “if you can’t personally enthuse about your artists, then you may as well shut up shop”. Thirty years on, he continues to show artists whose work most fascinates him, to great effect. The exhibition comprises a smattering of the artists Nodrum has worked with to the present day, including the New Zealand-born, Australian-based painter George Johnson, with whom Nodrum has had the longest exhibition history of all the artists. Now in his 80s, Johnson continues to produce works indebted to the abstract and constructivist styles that influenced his early career, as seen in Quartet with Base (2009), currently on show. Nodrum’s record as a collector and connoisseur is also displayed in the present
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Ann Thomson, Calypso 2013. Oil on linen, 122 x 122 cm
exhibition, which includes a painting by the artist from whom he bought his first work, Jonas Balsaitis. While such geometricallydriven, abstract paintings are the primary focus of this exhibition and, indeed, of the gallery itself, a few pieces of figural painting are also included in the anniversary show, as well as two works of sculpture. The latter category includes a small-scale marble and granite portrait bust by Clive Murray-White, entitled v-i (2012). This petite, elegant sculpture contrasts with the artist’s best known marble work, the Alfred Felton Centenary Sculpture (2004), an enormous bust which stands in the National Gallery of Victoria premises on St Kilda Road commemorating 100 years of the Felton Bequest. With its array of sharp lines, bright colours and optical intrigues, the new exhibition at Charles Nodrum Gallery celebrates the high regard held by both the gallery’s director and its contributing artists for the bold experimentations of abstract expressionism. The continued relevance and value of such works in a contemporary setting is also evidenced through the exhibition, as is the continuing and vital contribution of Charles Nodrum Gallery to the current art market.
»»Charles Nodrum Gallery’s 30th Anniversary Group Show runs from March 8 to March 29 Guy Stuart. Cataract Gorge Scroll Format 2013.
Oil on canvas, 200 x 60 cm
The Melbourne Review March 2014 27
Trapped in a print The Piranesi Effect at the Ian Potter Museum of Art
by Suzie Fraser
hen deciding on the design of The Piranesi Effect exhibition, currently on display at the University of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art, curator Jenny Long was persuaded by a line from J G Ballard’s Cocaine Nights to consider what it might feel like to be trapped in a Piranesi print. In the words of one of Ballard’s characters, “I never thought I’d live within those strange etchings.” Using contemporary Australian and New Zealand art displayed alongside a selection of prints by the master printmaker, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), Long invites viewers to enter an imagined threedimensional space inspired by Piranesi’s etched world. In turn, she offers a unique and strikingly nuanced perspective of the eighteenth-century artist’s oeuvre. A couple of centuries or so after his death, the Venice-born printmaker Piranesi is currently experiencing something of a popularity boost in Melbourne’s cultural pockets. In addition to the show at the Ian Potter Museum is an exhibition at the State Library of Victoria comprising an extraordinary assembly of prints, largely from the artist’s Vendute di Roma (Views of Rome) series. Having first trained as an architect, before then focussing his attention on printmaking, Piranesi developed a shrewd intuition for depicting the built landscape of Rome. Indeed his Vendute, with their intricate detailing and palpable atmospheric appeal, became internationally renowned during his lifetime and were greatly influential in shaping popular understandings
Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Remains of the aqueduct of Nero, 1740–78. The Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne
of the Roman cityscape. In contrast, the Ian Potter Museum exhibition highlights Piranesi’s equally celebrated Carceri (Prisons) series. Here are images of chain-wrapped pillars and staircases that lead to nowhere; what Jenny Long describes as “illogical spaces, not tied to reality”.
with historic art and, specifically, how the artistic concerns of Piranesi are timeless, extending across centuries to the presentday. Prisons and chains, light and dark, long lines, urban environments, landscapes of wonderment, unknown terrors, the reappraisal of history.
When Long was presented with this curatorial task by the museum, she was also given a title around which to determine the parameters of the exhibition, The Piranesi Effect. Transforming these words into a lucid display of art undoubtedly required a great deal of creative gumption on her part, especially considering the considerable eminence of the primary subject, Piranesi. Sidestepping the potential minefield for the misuse of logic in the word ‘effect’, Long uses the allocated title to fashion an ambience, inspired by the works of the eighteenth-century artist and using the works of several contemporary artists.
As Long notes, “It is hard for contemporary art viewers to look at etchings. They are more used to spectacle.” For this reason, Long has
She thus avoids drawing clumsy connections between the practices of the contemporary artists and the example set by Piranesi – for instance, “such-and-such looked at Piranesi in week seven of their first-year of art school”. Instead she presents a personal analysis of, broadly, how contemporary art can interact
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structured the exhibition space so that the viewer needs to pass through the contemporary art to get to the wall of Piranesi prints, which are hung in such a manner as to “slow people down to look at them”. When the viewer turns around again after examining the prints, they find that the contemporary works they saw first, in large sculptural forms, photographs and modern prints, were seemingly dragged from the historic world of Piranesi into the current three-dimensional space. For example, Peter Robinson’s Viniculum (2008), an oversized white chain lying on the ground, was clearly yanked straight from Piranesi’s prison scenes. Of course, no such direct correlation exists, real or imagined, other than the inspiration drawn from Long’s curatorship. The wittiness of Robinson’s work becomes clear when it is noted that the heavy-looking chain is actually made from polystyrene. In dialogue with the State Library’s current exhibition, curated by Colin Holden, and complemented by a recent symposium organised by the Australian Institute of Art History examining the printmaker and his wide-ranging influence, this exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum breathes fresh life into the historic prints of Piranesi. Jenny Long’s curatorship serves as an elegant and compelling reconsideration of the artist, whilst also promoting the increased integration of historic and contemporary art displays.
28 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014
GALLERY LISTINGS 1
HAWTHORN STUDIO & GALLERY
Robyn Carter Moods Of The Murray Until March 29 635 Burwood Road, Hawthorn East. hawthornstudiogallery.com.au
Ex libris - the book in contemporary art February 22 – May 25 Little Malop Street, Geelong geelonggallery.org.au
CAMBRIDGE STUDIO GALLERY
Saren Dobkins: As Within, So Without March 26 – April 12 52 Cambridge Street, Collingwood cambridgestudiogallery.com.au
PORT JACKSON PRESS
Michael Schlitz: dis connect...connect dis Stephanie Jane Rampton: Tangled Chris Ingham: Urban Man Until March 31 84 Smith St, Collingwood portjacksonpress.com.au
TOWN HALL GALLERY
Fixation: Our Obsession with the Fashion Culture Until April 13 360 Burwood road, Hawthorn townhallgallery.com.au
IAN POTTER MUSEUM OF ART
Jericho to Jerusalem Until April 6 The University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Parkville firstname.lastname@example.org
MCCLELLAND SCULPTURE PARK + GALLERY Juan Ford: Lord of the Canopy, Sensory Overload: Karen Casey, George Khut, Ross Manning and Kit Webster, Martin Hill: Watershed Until April 27 360 - 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin mcclellandgallery.com
HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Emily Floyd: Far Rainbow March 15 – July 13 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen heide.com.au
FLINDERS LANE GALLERY
Susan Baird: Landscape & Light Josh Robbins: Once I Was a Bird Until March 29 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne flg.com.au
CHARLES NODRUM GALLERY
30th Anniversary Show Featuring, Tom Alberts, Sydney Ball, Jonas Balsaitis, Lynne Boyd, Warren Breninger, Leonard Brown, Sadie Chandler, Andrew Christofides, Tony Coleing, Steve Cox, Richard Dunn, Mark Galea, David Harley, Kristin Headlam, Ian Howard, George Johnson, Shane Jones, Joan Lewis Brick, Clive Murray White, Ti Parks, Ron Robertson-Swann, Paul Selwood, Guy Stuart, Jim Thalassoudis, Ann Thomson, Trevor Vickers, David Warren, Lorri Whiting. Until March 29 267 Church St, Richmond charlesnodrumgallery.com.au
Town Hall Gallery Hawthorn Arts Centre 360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn VIC 3122 P: 03 9278 4626 E: email@example.com
Our Obsession with the Fashion Culture
Fixation seeks to create a dialogue around ideas of our obsession with fashion. Artists: Alexander Batsis, Janice Gobey, Leo Greenfield, Inge Jacobsen (UK), Ariana Page Russell (USA), Kitty N. Wong (HK). Curated by Mardi Nowak.
4 March – 13 April 2014
RUSSELL, Ariana Page, detail from After Party (2009), archival inkjet print, 45 x 66cm, © Courtesy of the artist and Magnan Metz Gallery
The Melbourne Review March 2014 29
VISUAL ARTS 10
The Edmund Pearce Gallery launched the Yes Chef! exhibition by Daniel Sponiar featuring portraits of some of Australia’s top chefs on March 6. The exhibition is part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and will be showing until March 29. 11
Photos Matthew Wren
Original Australian Art 292 Smith St. Collingwood collingwoodgallery.com.au
Monash Gallery of Art
The Rennie Ellis Show April 3 – June 8 860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill mga.org.au
Art at Linden Gate
Fresh Until April 21 899 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen artatlindengategallery.com.au
Without Pier Gallery
Stewart Westle: Summer Play March 23 – April 6 320 Bay Rd, Cheltenham withoutpier.com.au
TarraWarra Museum of Art
Solitaire Until April 27 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville twma.com.au
Melbourne Art Rooms
Graeme Base: Private Collection Until April 16 418 Bay St, Port Melbourne marsgallery.com.au » TO SEE MORE SOCIAL IMAGES VISIT MELBOURNEREVIEW.COM.AU
lay Summer P 23 March- 6 April Opens Sunday 23 March 2-4pm
320 Bay Rd Cheltenham t: 9583 7577 Mon to Sat 10am-5pm Sun 12-5pm
e n q u i r i e s @ w i t h o u t p i e r. c o m . a u w w w. w i t h o u t p i e r. c o m . a u
30 The Melbourne Review March 2014
VISUAL ARTS Some of her larger works take in a pond and its reflections at Tamboroora, an old mining outpost in the vicinity of Hill End. Here she captures the flood of light that occurs at day’s end, and channels the transformative power of light to shift the ordinary to the extraordinary. These large works have an otherworldly quality as with broad brush strokes and glowing colour Baird effectively captures the liminal zone between night and day, and its particular transient magic.
Photo: Michel Brouet
In other smaller works she tracks shifts in season, with bright springtime bursts of lime green or swathes of burnt orange that reflect changes in vegetation. Occasionally the same location reappears in different works, caught at a different time of day or night. Such observations display a sense of connection with the cyclic rhythms of nature – an awareness that can only be arrived at through time immersed in this rural setting, experiencing its changes first hand.
Susan Baird, Opalescence. Oil on linen 112 x 153cm
Landscape & Light Susan Baird at Flinders Lane Gallery
by Marguerite Brown
usan Baird first visited the goldrush era town of Hill End in 2006, and was immediately captivated by what she refers to as a “landscape of imagination.” This small town scattered with remnants of its former glory may be of mild
historical interest or tourist appeal to some, yet over the last century Hill End has enthralled a number of Australia’s most celebrated artists. In this current exhibition Baird contributes her individual voice to a deep regional artistic legacy, creating paintings that spring as much from physical topography of place as they do from a potent emotional and sensory response to it.
all vie with Australian natives and the everencroaching bush. Certain buildings have been preserved, evidence of the large population and thriving gold industry that the town once supported as thousands flocked to its gilded soil. Imprinted with echoes of its boom and bust past, this living town is laced with casual desolation, and has called to Baird for close to eight years.
Hill End and its surrounding rural landscape have been indelibly shaped by its colonial past. Here miners’ cottages from the 1850s, stone fruit trees, conifers and antique roses
Baird’s practice often involves working outdoors, en plein air observing the changes in light and atmosphere and how these can vastly affect the appearance of a chosen spot.
Yet Baird’s paintings are not just based on pure observation of visual phenomena. When she returns to the studio the artist sets about harnessing a remembered moment, conjuring the interplay of form, shape, light and colour to distill sensations and emotions experienced while out in the field. It is this that drives her practice, the search for a visual language that expresses both optic memory and her own internalised reaction to it. Some of Baird’s abandoned landscapes convey a moving sense of nostalgia. In other works her vibrant use of colour and swift brushwork generate an immediacy that speaks optimistically of the present. Yet tying all together is the artist’s poetic rendition of land and sky, amid the faded remnants of what once was.
»»Susan Baird: Landscape & Light shows at Flinders Lane Gallery, 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, until March 29. flg.com.au
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 31
THE DISPENSARY ENOTECA
Beautiful Bendigo BY HANNAH BAMBRA
The cultural capital of the goldfields
he architecture of a city reflects its glory days and while many metropolises are dealing with midcentury monstrosities, Bendigo retains the majesty of the Goldrush.
huge structures boasting elegance and space. Its rich history is merged with contemporary ideals and a creative community with a taste for quality goods and artisan products enjoyed as part of a laid-back attitude to living well.
An incredibly wealthy borough in the late 1800s, Bendigo was equipped with a full functioning tram network, grand central fountain and a string of elite hotels and public buildings that welcomed high society.
The old banks, converted factory spaces and quaint cottages, which chefs and restaurant owners are able to occupy, amplify the thrills of an intimate ﬁne-dining experience. Leading food and wine venues continue to reinvent the old by tapping into Bendigo’s past as they craft their ventures.
During the height of the Goldrush, the goldﬁelds had doubled the population of an also bustling Melbourne. How Bendigo once operated still feels prevalent in modern life here. Old century buildings and their accompanying garden beds have been maintained magniﬁcently and there is still a one-to-one ratio of pubs and gothic-style churches. The town was planned to sustain generations of rapid growth, which means Bendigonians now enjoy wide roads, decadent parklands and
An example of this is Masons of Bendigo, the owners, when taking ownership of an old lead lighting building, decided to feature strips of glowing lights in the modern interior. Wine Bank on View – as well as the up-and-comer Rocks on Rosalind – have left old iron vaults on display in order to transform banks into bars without taking away the charm and narrative. Chancery Lane’s Dispensary Enoteca is similarly named after owner Tim’s recollection of the site once
A trip down Chancery Lane presents an unexpected oasis for ﬁne food and drink lovers. Offering more than just an extensive list of wines, The Dispensary proudly bears the self-appointed title ‘Protagonists of Hospitality & Drink Culture’. A 64-page drink menu is complete with tasting notes on 900 different drink options and a small team of staff hold extensive knowledge of their encyclopaedic compilation of beverages. Space is used cleverly, with their closet of a kitchen pumping out intricately detailed dishes from a menu, which changes seasonally to incorporate local produce. Owner Tim Baxter has packed the back bar to the roof with obscure spirits and aperitifs as well as everybody’s favourite tipple. being a chemist, dispensing goods other than craft beer and gourmet nibbles. Some things, however, will always remain the same. Bendigo Pottery, for one, has been an artisan hub with large artists’ studios and huge walk-in kilns for more than 150 years. Visitors today can spend $30 and 15 minutes spinning their own plates to leave baking and glazing as they peruse antiques and handmade ceramics. Now fitted out with a striking modern interior, Bendigo Art Gallery has been around since 1887 and is one of Australian’s largest and oldest regional galleries. The Post Ofﬁce Gallery is cataloguing big and small changes throughout Bendigo’s history and presenting them to the public in new and challenging ways through revolving exhibitions. Exciting things are happening in Bendigo’s art scene. This month, a studio-inspired art tram zips around the city, giving passengers a sneak peak of the next Art Series hotel and an exclusive preview of abstract paintings of the township. The investments that are going into new projects and towards protecting the past makes it increasingly obvious that, while it may not be the buzzing metropolitan centre it was planned to be, Bendigo is solidifying itself as the state’s regional centre for art and culture.
MASONS OF BENDIGO An increasing favourite of connoisseurs and critics, Masons of Bendigo offers modern fare in a sleek, contemporary setting. An open kitchen sits off-centre to a bustling, open-plan restaurant, which is almost always booked out until late into the evening. The venue has won numerous awards, from Best Chef (Nicholas Anthony) to Best Front of House and Overall Regional Winner at Golden Plate Awards. Dishes such as their famous beetroot gnocchi coupled with Holy Goat fromage frais, fried onions, young spinach and salsa verde sit next to a simple 250g steak of Inglewood dry-aged eye ﬁllet. Whether it is a delicate garden bed on a plate or a straight paddock-to-plate experience, the quality of this restaurant exudes value for money.
32 The Melbourne Review March 2014
Rocks on Rosalind
The Genius of London’s Royal Academy by HANNAH BAMBRA
Works from Britain’s primary 18th-20th century educator in the arts
ince the successful and expansive Golden Age of Couture exhibition in 2009 and an equally popular display of Grace Kelly’s life and style more recently, Bendigo Art Gallery has further elevated itself beyond the standard of your average rural art hub. The next in a winning streak of international exhibitions is one Director, Karen Quinlan, solely initiated after asking herself, “What were expatriate Australian artists doing in London at the turn of the century?” Genius and Ambition: Royal Academy of Arts London 1768-1918 neatly aligns with Bendigo’s succession of collections, which Quinlan denotes as having a “great emphasis on London”. This collective showcase of works from London’s primary fine art institution travels for the first time to fill nearly four rooms of the art gallery’s major wing. “Most of these works are kept in storage year-round,” says Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy. “The quality is remarkable when you see it all together.” Nearly 100 works from the Royal Academy’s 245-year history are given ample space in the gallery’s dark, uncluttered backdrop.
The collection ranges from diploma works – submitted by artists to receive admittance into the academy – to contemporary scenes of everyday 19th-20th century life. In a bold move away from commercial apprenticeships, the institution was built to educate and equip a fleet of professional artists, or ‘gentlemen practitioners’. Academic sketches begin the course of the second room, demonstrating work done during workshops and lectures, as well as the emphasis placed on architecture, anatomy and the classical world. Delve with the students into life painting, the study of figure and form and technical rendering as you stroll through the exhibition. To be displayed in the academy’s halls was the mark of an artist’s success. Quinlan answers her initial question through the addition of collected works from high profile, period Australian artists with a connection to the academy. Around 30 pieces from prolific artists such as Rupert Bunny, George Lambert and Arthur Streeton show how crucial the academy was for a budding Australian artist to gain a reputation in Europe at that time. A Charles West Cope piece, The Council of the Royal Academy selecting Pictures for the
Exhibition, shows the gruelling consideration with which applications were studied. It was paintings with moral warnings, capturing ‘high minded’ subject matter, which the academy and public revered. Joshua Reynolds, famed artist and president of the academy, was respected for his presentation of life and structures, such as Dolbadern Castle, within a poetic, looming landscape portraying nature as a force to be reckoned with. The role of landscapes and portraits change as the exhibition progresses through Britain’s artistic fashions. The exhibition shows scenes of contemporary life as first an exciting elevation of middle class living and later scenes of early orientalism and reports of the exotic existence at Britain’s East India Trading Company. The Royal Academy held a dual purpose throughout its history, in order to educate the public and balance finances, the academy had to put equal emphasis on its role as an exhibitor. Subject matter of diploma works was a litmus paper test of what crowds wanted to see. This diverse compilation of works utilises the wealth of the Royal Academy’s collection to bring yet another blockbuster to Bendigo. This month the gallery also unveils its new $8.5 million wing, comprised of two new contemporary gallery spaces and designed by the same architects as Hobart’s famed MONA.
»»Genius and Ambition: The Royal Academy of Arts, London 1786-1918 Bendigo Art Gallery Continues until June 9 royalacademybendigo.com
Friends Finn Vedelsby and Ben Massey have perched their new endeavour on the edge of Rosalind Park. An understated, flavoursome menu balances Asian flavours with contemporary takes on the English classics. Pork belly with black pepper caramel and pickled daikon is placed boldly on the restaurant’s tasting banquet alongside crispy duck terrine and blue cheese salad. The directors’ love for beer, wine and cocktails will see their bar menu continue to build over the coming months. Rocks’ name comes from the area’s historic labyrinth of goldmines and the restaurant’s placement within a National Bank, constructed in 1863. Tall ceilings give height and breathing space to the venue’s primary, open room and a historic map of quartz reefs creates the bar’s feature wall. The food and fit-out are modern, complemented with an approach more relaxed and casual than that of its peers.
Wine Bank From the outside of View Street’s Wine Bank, a passer-by would scarcely begin to imagine the variety of treasures to be found inside. Every corner of this period interior has a box, bottle or crate of wine huddled into it. As if hunting through well-stocked library shelves, the narrow rows of wine racks create a playful maze through Wine Bank’s concentrated bottle shop. Stacks of local wines from Bendigo and Heathcote greet you as you enter this vault of alcohol and creature comforts. As well as a wide range of imports, wines from Echuca and Heathcote are available by the glass. Sink into a sizeable leather couch with a local drop and a fresh, light Italian meal such as Tuscan bread salad or a red eye steak for something heartier. Pushing traditional wine and flavour combinations, a classic European menu is punctuated with light, Japaneseinspired bar snacks.
The Melbourne Review March 2014 33
he lead up to the Genius and Ambition exhibition has been frenetic. Royal Academy Secretary and Chief Executive, Charles Saumarez Smith, even commented on his own excitement brought forth seeing Reynold’s Theory painting on every lamppost in Bendigo.
Henry of Harcourt Through collaboration and quality produce, this small country farm-gate has gained a big reputation. Twenty minutes before arriving in Bendigo, stop off at Henry of Harcourt for a genuine country experience. Owners and farmers, Irene and Drew, are happy to talk visitors through the production process and give tips for what is currently in season. Sip apple, pear and mixed-blend ciders, which range in sweetness and alcoholic percentage while their ducks gaggle in the little pond outside. The veranda is a fantastic place to sit and enjoy the air in summer. The signature Harcourt Cider range is a collaboration between Henry of Harcourt and The Little Red Apple and Bress Winery just down the road. This small little cellar door also offers a range of honey, pears, apples and extra virgin olive oils from friends’ farms and their own backdoor.
A large Jimmy Possum truck parked at the foot of the Art Gallery’s stairs one afternoon before the grand opening only furthered public curiosity and anticipation. Hefty pieces of lovingly crafted interior design flowed up the gallery’s steps and through its large doors. In conjunction with the gallery’s latest extension, Director Karen Quinlan invited Jimmy Possum to furnish vital parts of the gallery’s expanding interior. Although local to Central Victoria, Jimmy Possum continue the Bendigo Art Gallery’s international focus with large, regal looking chairs featuring European streetscapes. Different shades and textures of what designer and founder, Margot Spalding, refers to as “Venice velvet” frame these vignettes. “We coordinated our designs with the theme of the gallery – classic, but with a contemporary twist,” says Spalding. Captured in their custom-made seating is the grandeur of the surrounding artworks.
Fabrics and leathers have been carefully selected to match the wall colour and ambiance of the space. The end results are reminiscent of detailed watercolours in soft, 19th century colour palettes. Instead of the large, neutral seating we’re used to seeing in the middle of art spaces, these pieces have been carefully nestled into corners to create space for contemplation. “We tried creating a calming and subdued feeling in the space,” says Spalding. “It was great to visit the gallery and see people sitting in the chairs, finding themselves a nice little breakaway area.” Colourful accents and playful feature pieces are a signature of the leading design house and quality of design is forever consistent. Jimmy Possum also produces all of its artwork inhouse, commissions its own timber stains and is the largest producer of furniture crafted from
recycled timbers. A family affair, Spalding has had the help of her husband and five of their seven children to help bring the brand to what it is today. Designed and crafted in Bendigo, and now distributed and sold by a team of more than 150 workers nationwide, Jimmy Possum began as a one woman venture in a backyard shed in Harcourt. These roots may lead some to relate the brand to ‘genius and ambition’ in more ways than one.
»»See Jimmy Possum originals inside The Bendigo Art Gallery or across the road in their flagship Bendigo showroom. Stores are also spread across Melbourne and interstate. jimmypossum.com.au
The Schaller STUDIO The next inspired studio by the Art Series Hotel Group
Bendigo Wholefoods If a taste of the region with a limited timeframe is what your visit demands, Bendigo Wholefoods is a great way to pick up select local produce. As well as hanging from the roof and packing the shelves, organic vegetables, meats, cheeses and dips are often cut fresh and put out for tasting. Fresh baked pumpkin bloomers and chocolate brownies are tempting additions at the checkout, however, Wholefoods has a big emphasis on health and well being. A nursery occupies half the lot and friendly staff eagerly chats about their basil going to seed as they help you work through aisles of produce. Wide, unexpected ranges of vegan food and gluten free ingredients are offered. As well as herbs and artisan teas, Bendigo Wholefoods stock a range of supplements, LSA, vitamins for the lifestyle-conscious shopper.
fter three successful ventures in Melbourne, the Art Series Hotel group are set to launch the next addition of their studio-style hotels in Bendigo in early May. Each venture in the group’s chain is named after a significant Australian artist. The Schaller will be a regional Victorian homage to the prolific Melbourne-based, expressionistic painter and sculptor. The Bendigo Studio is to be built as a series of understated, texturally rich rooms akin to an artist’s workspace. “The hotel will not only be a launch pad for travellers to enjoy an authentic Bendigo experience but also act as a platform to showcase local artists’ work,” says Will Deague, the creator of the Art Series Hotel brand. The Bendigo experience which Deague mentions is easily accessible for Melbourne day-trippers and continues to evolve into a unique, art-based adventure. With the creation of a boutique art-focused hotel,
visitors to the region will be able to extend their stay and create a weekend purely from contact with the country’s creative community. It is Bendigo’s emergence as the state’s regional centre for arts and culture, which has pushed the city to be the first location outside of Melbourne for the hotel group. Inspired by Bendigo’s sense of romance and history, Mark Schaller will be adding his touch to each luxury studio space. “I look forward to using the city and its surrounds as inspiration for the work that will feature in the rooms of the hotel,” says the artist. Mark Schaller
Keeping with the group’s tradition, original works by homegrown artists will fill the rooms and communal spaces of The Schaller Studio. A mini-bar of local produce will be paired with premium artist’s utensils, journals and art books. While these resources give reason to nest inside for the day, the hotel’s plans for hosting new artisans’ markets, exhibitions and art classes may just draw you out.
»»The Schaller Studio Lucan St, Bendigo Rooms available for hire from May artserieshotels.com.au
34 The Melbourne Review March 2014
Harry & Frankie
The Waiters Restaurant
Bay Street’s new bar Harry & Frankie proves that Port Melbourne can happily swing from bikinis and beachwear to bouncy Beaujolais.
‘The Waiter’s Club’, ‘The Italian Waiter’s Club’, ‘Waiter’s Club’ – call it what you will, this nofrills 1950s hang out is just the ticket for fast comfort food.
by Lou Pardi by Marianne Duluk
e Melbournians are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants – fine dining, fancy interiors, silver service, lengthy wine lists – it’s all very lovely, but sometimes we’re after something simple and comforting – enter The Waiters Restaurant.
he bar scene along Bay Street is picking up pace. Along with the new Imbibe Wine Bar and Corte, Harry & Frankie is proving that wine bars aren’t reserved for the professional wine fraternity. It’s named neither after a grape nor region but after the owner’s children: John Tennent’s eldest son Harry and sommelier Tom Hogan’s daughter Frankie – the little personalities behind this part wine shop/ bar.
Established in the late 1940s as a hang out for off-duty wait staff, it was frequented by Italian and Spanish waiters. Whilst the interior design might not have changed much from those days – the regulars sure have. In the 1970s the venue was opened to diners and now days everyone from theatregoers to post-drinks hangover avoiders and everyone in between drops in for a quick feed.
With 15 years in the industry, including the last three-and-a-half at the acclaimed Lake House with Alla Wolf-Tasker, Hogan felt it was the perfect time to “have a crack at a business myself. Fortunately my good mate, now business partner, John Tennent was keen to get involved, and we fell in love with the space here – a Victorian terrace with a stunning vaulted ceiling.” Hogan’s thirst for wine is captivating and he’ll effortlessly talk you through the 600odd bottles spanning wall-to-wall – available to either pop at home or slurp on the spot ($15 corkage). “Our wine philosophy is about championing wine families and owner operators both from Australia and abroad. We convey their stories and philosophies in the best possible light – and it’s these stories that enrich the drinking experience,” explains Hogan. The collection is mouth-watering – spanning from the mineral driven MORIC Alte Reben Blaufrankisch, elegant Russian River Valley Pinots and German Rieslings from bone dry to luscious. You’ll drink well by the glass. It’s an astute list that entertains and educates; where artisan wines crafted in miniscule quantities flirt with Champagne heavyweights. Perch yourself at the communal bar and introduce yourself to Harry & Frankie’s ‘on tap’ Pinot Gris from Ar Fion, or sip broody Barbaresco from Piedmont. “You little hipster,” Hogan remarks as I’m cradling an amber ‘orange wine’ from Friuli. It’s hazy and herbal with warming smokiness. I’m no hipster but it’s a highlight. Just like any good wine bar the food at
Whilst throughout the week you’ll find locals pulling up a (now) vintage chair at a Laminex table, come Saturday night the restaurant is often booked out, unless you want the teeny table for one right at the doorway.
Harry & Frankie plays a back seat role. It’s an unfussy menu, designed to pick and share and screams for wine. “Modern cuisine often forgets the role of wine at the table – we wanted a stripped back food offering that highlights wine – not overshadows it,” says Hogan. We start with fresh oysters from Pipeclay Lagoon whilst resident cook Nikkita Wood slices salami to order. Nightly mains rotate; tonight it’s a slow-roasted lamb shoulder salad. It’s hugely satisfying with quinoa, lentils and freekeh. Pomegranates and pepitas add pop and crunch. Flavour packed ‘Grand Cru’ toasties are equally satisfying. The Roast chicken is grand, teaming with spinach, cheese and a good lick of beetroot relish. These are perfect bites for weekend
brunching or late night snacking. It’s a welcoming space, embracing a varied crowd of locals and thirsty wine lovers alike. Harry & Frankie deliver a experience that meshes cutting edge wines with laid-back, refreshing hospitality. I’ll gladly swap my bikini for a bright Beaujolais and I imagine the crowds will follow.
»»Harry & Frankie Mon 4pm-11pm, Wed-Thu 4pm-11pm, Fri-Sun 11am-11pm 317 Bay Street, Port Melbourne, 3207 9645 4414 harryandfrankie.com.au
There’s nothing wrong with that spot in fact, it’s a great spot to watch people file in after their climb up the stairs opposite Loop Bar on Meyers Place. It’s easy to spot newcomers. Pulling open the heavy door they enter straight into the dining room. Their heads swivel around taking in the faux-wood laminate tables, 1940s curtains, well-worn carpet and walls of mismatched framed prints, together with blackboards displaying the menu (mains on the dining room walls – desserts over the kitchen). The food may be simple fare, but there’s plenty to choose from: minestrone, pate, anti pasto, classic pasta, veal, steak and chicken. It’s comfort food, and it might not be like Nonna used to make it, but it’s just as comforting. Whilst there are plenty of regular customers, there’s certainly no consensus on a favourite dish at The Waiters Restaurant, although I’ve never been with a group that hasn’t ordered a basket of garlic bread (and devoured it in moments, wearing the crumbs as evidence). Some lean towards a classic spaghetti bologna. I went through
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 35
Townhouse Speciality coffee has finally arrived in Toorak. Welcome to Townhouse; the new kid on Toorak’s turf rivalling its southeast neighbours.
BY MARIANNE DULUK
ou’re forgiven if Toorak hasn’t been on your radar for speciality coffee – French patisseries and chocolatiers, perhaps. However with the arrival of Townhouse in December, this stylish joint has quickly become the hot spot for quality coffee in the hood.
a phase of somehow ingesting the slippery spaghetti carbonara, and another of wolfing down the charming meat-and-three-vege style porterhouse for dinner after skipping lunch. The chicken parmigiana will sate even the most ravenous appetite. Wine (identified by variety only) is served in tumblers that clack as you ‘cheers’. If you haven’t been to The Waiters Restaurant, it’s certainly worth a visit.
» The Waiters Restaurant 20 Meyers Place, Melbourne 9650 1508 Lunch: Monday – Friday Dinner: Monday – Saturday
Set in a former Tudor townhouse, she’s a bright space, with restrained Scandinavian furnishings and that familiar ‘neighbourhood’ vibe. It’s the second venture for Matt Ward and Mitch Haworth – the brains behind Camberwell’s Prospect Espresso, joined by head chef Will Manning (Prospect Espresso, The Botanical and Verge). Coffee is a serious topic here. “Having two grinders gives us the opportunity to run a single or special blend of our choice in the other grinder, along with our standard blend,” says Haworth. The Rosso house blend has been a hit, whilst guest roasters may include Industry Beans, Seven Seeds and Market Lane. “We have great respect for the intricate work of these roasters and do our best to showcase that.” Filter methods including pour over and cold drip are on offer and the boys have also
applied for a liquor licence. Bring on Bloody Marys with our bacon, thanks. Pretty crowds perch themselves at the coffee bar, chatting to the equally pretty and sociable crew. However the snug courtyard, amongst the kitchen’s herb garden, is prime brunching territory. Manning’s dishes are classic with European stokes. Ethical and quality produce is sourced with fancy pants ingredients such as brioche, truffled cream and bergamot sprinkled across the menu. Dig into the cured smoked salmon on dark rye ($17.50): Perfectly poached eggs are dressed in a preserved lemon hollandaise and avocado mousse. There’s zing, texture and bite in all the right places. Creamy mousse reappears on the French Brioche Toast, with strawberries and maple pecans, adding sweet crunch ($17.50). Come lunchtime the Townhouse Burger
packs a punch ($21.50). House minced Angus beef parties with bacon (free-range) and pickles, in a glossy brioche bun. Or perhaps quinoa is more your calling; teamed with cauliﬂower couscous, apple and almonds, ($18) it’s a wonderfully nourishing salad. Along with its inner south-east neighbours, Townhouse has now put Toorak on the map for great coffee and smart food. Be sure to stop by before the Toorak types Tweet her silly.
» Townhouse 466 Toorak Road Open Mon-Sun 7am-4pm 9973 8721 facebook.com/Townhousetoorak
36 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014
Autumn Reds BY ANDREA FROST
Too often we think of red wines as being heady and heavy with depths like the abyss. But these days, winemakers and wine drinkers the world over are appreciating the virtues of medium bodied red wines. Here is a selection, which makes a perfect line up for autumnal drinking.
2012 TELMO RODRIGUEZ ‘GABA DO XIL’ MENCIA
2012 SORRENBERG GAMAY
GERHARD PITTNAUER DOGMA, 2012
S.C. PANNELL GRENACHE 2011
Valdeorras RRP $33 telmorodriguez.com
Beechworth RRP $40 sorrenberg.com
Burgenland RRP $48 pittnauer.com
McLaren Vale RRP $60 pannell.com.au
If you need proof that a country’s history is reflected in its wine, Mencia may well be it. A red grape variety indigenous to the Bierzo region of north west Spain, Mencia has endured – and reflected – most of Spain’s political and economic vicissitudes. Since the 1890s, phylloxera infestation, civil and world wars, political distraction and the industrialisation of agriculture, left Mencia neglected and out of favour. However, in the 1990s Telmo Rodriguez – winemaker and crusader for Spanish wine – set out to reverse this decline for Mencia and other varieties by rediscovering regions, cultivating native varieties and improving wine quality. This wine is a culmination of that campaign and a lovely expression of a wine whose popularity, plantings and quality are all increasing. From Valdeorras, it is a highly perfumed wine, offering vibrant lifted aromas of berries, herbs and some floral notes. The palate continues with additional savoury and smoky flavours typical to the variety, finishing with pleasing and typically soft tannins.
It is understandable that Gamay is often compared to Pinot Noir – not only is it a midweight red wine, which Pinot Noir is perhaps the most famous, but Gamay also comes from Pinot Noir’s heartland, Burgundy, where the virtues of the two were compared for centuries. Pinot Noir, obviously, won out in the ‘great wine’ stakes while Gamay become known for its role in Beaujolais – the bright, fruity wine style released very soon after vintage. Gamay is now grown in many countries, including Australia, where its ability to make complex, spicy and medium-bodied wines, is being loved and lauded. Sorrenberg, the esteemed producer from the cool Victorian region of Beechworth, produces a benchmark Australian style. It is like wet autumn swirling in your glass. The nose offers alluring red and dark berry fruits, shimmerings of spice and a savoury earthiness while the palate continues with a beautiful mid weight body, fine acid and gentle tannins. An elegant wine that is as close to drinking autumn as you’ll get.
Much easier to drink than it is to say, Blaufränkisch (pronounced blouw-frank-ish) is one of Austria’s three indigenous varieties and expresses similar wonders as Gamay, so much so that it was once mistaken for Gamay, which you might recall from the previous note, was once mistaken for Pinot Noir. Another deliciously perfumed, medium-bodied beauty, at its best Blaufränkisch makes a complex wine offering cherries and red berries, spiciness, pepper and a lovely savouriness. Brigitte and Gerhard Pittnauer of the Burgenland region of Austria, produce a number of excellent singlevineyard Blaufränkisch from their biodynamic estate. Fruit for this wine comes off their best Blaufränkisch site, ‘Ungerberg’. The wine is free of additions, including sulphur. The wine is fresh and vibrant on the nose and tastes of earth, minerals, violets, berries and spice. Featuring a refreshing line of acidity, the palate is medium bodied and very attractive. The 2012 is the first release of the Dogma and is available in Australia from April.
Also known as Garnacha in Spain, Grenache is one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. Not only does it make a wonderful wine on it’s own – it is a superb composite of spice and berry fruit offerings – it is also a great companion to other red varieties such as Shiraz and Mourvedre and is often blended with both. Grenache flourishes in hot and dry climates making it an excellent longterm prospect, especially in places such as Australia, where the climate may be considered marginal. The Barossa and McLaren Vale both produce stunning versions of Grenache and McLaren Vale’s Steve Pannell is well known for his innovative winemaking and success with Mediterranean varieties. This wine is no exception offering an intense, generous and lifted perfume of red fruits and spice, and a weave of savouriness. The palate offers a similar composite of red berry fruits woven with complexing spice and earthiness with a gentle rub of tannins. Lovely, savoury, spicy stuff.
THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014 37
FOOD.WINE.COFFEE Square, Union Dining (Richmond), Attica (Ripponlea), Ladro (Fitzroy and Prahran) and many, many more restaurant and café roofs. There are also some hives in private and community gardens. Restaurants and people who host hives share in the honey, and learn about bee keeping. “We thought that we would just have half a dozen hives as a little hobby project for the weekend,” says Vanessa of their intention over ﬁve years ago – it’s now very much a full-time commitment. No week is quite like another but Vanessa and Mat bee keep when the weather’s good (above 20 degrees and below 32 degrees) gather and deliver products (honey, candles, seeds, gift packs and more), and help provide bee keeping education at public workshops, mentoring sessions and tours. Vanessa tries to spend at least one day a week working on a new project or product development. Mat. “It was accidental in a lot of ways,” Vanessa says of the business’ growth. “It was just a hobby project that Mat and I had started. We knew a couple of chefs and thought it would be a natural thing. One, to utilise an unused space (i.e.: the roof) and two, connecting people to food and having something that is actually a local product. I thought that would naturally be something that chefs and café owners would like.” The hives are placed on rooftops all over the city and inner city – including at Federation
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey What started out as a hobby project has grown into a network of over 70 beehives on Melbourne restaurant, café and business rooftops.
BY LOU PARDI
anessa Kwiatkowski now spends every day caring for and promoting the interests of bees, but her passion for these honey-making critters is relatively new. “I’ve always been fairly fond of animals. But not insects,” she says. “I’ve got to say I was really quite ignorant before I got into bees. It was one of those things I just discovered along the way. I wasn’t born loving bees, not at all.” Her interest in bees followed on from an interest in gardening. When she and nowhusband Mat Lumalasi were considering what would be complementary to their Heidelberg backyard veggie patch, bees were an obvious choice. They joined a local beekeeping
group (then mostly older men, although the demographic has changed over the years) and learnt how to care for bees before starting up their own hives at home. Vanessa shares that although they have made some great friends in the beekeeping world, like many pursuits, not everyone is keen to see women participate. “It’s the usual females thing in a man’s world,” says Vanessa, “They ask me, ‘oh do you actually bee keep?’” Without going into the specifics, an estimated one-third of human food supply relies on pollinating insects participating in production. Whilst in Australia we’re relatively lucky, bees (and insects) all over the world are under threat. “I was concerned that people didn’t know where certain foods came from,” says Vanessa. “And the other thing is I wanted to bring awareness to everybody about their plight around the rest of the world. And how fortunate we are here in Australia.” The varroa mite - a threat to bees - is present in every country in the world except Australia. “We are the only country in the whole world that doesn’t have it. Even New Zealand has it,” says Vanessa. According to most experts, it’s not a case of if varroa mites will get to Australia, but when. Other bee-killers include commercial and domestic chemical use – including weed killers. Melbourne City Rooftop Honey now has over 70 hives, which are attended to by Vanessa and
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey is available through stockists all over Melbourne and there’s not one distinct ﬂavour. Where the bees live and what they eat provides a unique ﬂavour of honey from each hive – yet another subject to ignite the great Melbourne South v West v North v East debate.
38 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014
Mitchelton makes its mark
Mitchelton’s wines to yet another dimension – so watch out for a Blackwood Park Riesling of even greater ﬁnesse and complexity – and more award-winning Print Shiraz, in the tradition of the Mitchelton Print Shiraz which won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1991.
Photo by: Brett Goldsmith
BY MICHAEL HINCE
arry Humphries once referred to Mitchelton Winery as being a “vineyard up the Bourke Street end of the Goulburn (river)” – not so now; it’s much more at the Collins Street end these days.
Since it was acquired in late 2011 by entrepreneur Gerry Ryan (of Jayco fame) Mitchelton has been transformed into a mustvisit wine and food destination, far beyond the conﬁnes of a typical cellar door.
what makes Mitchelton’s 114 hectares of vines special is that they are part of Nagambie Lakes, the only Australian wine region, and one of only six worldwide, where the meso-climate is dramatically inﬂuenced by an inland water mass – of which the Goulburn River plays an important part.
Fast forward to 2014 and what was true in 1978 is manifestly and dramatically true today. For starters, imagine gliding along the Goulburn River on the luxurious Goulburn Explorer boat en route to Mitchelton, sipping a bubbly (or two), in anticipation of a leisurely gourmet lunch at the new Muse Restaurant overlooking the river.
Or, coffee in hand, simply talking in the beautiful and tranquil environment enveloped by the meandering curves of the Goulburn. What makes Mitchelton unforgettable is its
Younger drinkers see wine not as an end in itself or in isolation, but more as part of a broader, integrated, fun experience. Hence, Ryan’s vision for the new era Mitchelton goes way beyond crafting consistently good wine. He is intent on making Mitchelton an all-embracing wine happening rather than just a cellar door visit. It’s undergone a total transformation including a 55-metre high, million-dollar observation tower, the top of which has been described as an airport control tower. This includes operating The Goulburn Explorer cruise boat from Nagambie up river to the Collins Street end of the Goulburn.
Back in 1978, nine years after it was founded, wine writer Sam Benwell said Mitchelton was “worth more than a single visit, for it provides both a vineyard and a sheer spectacle of winery and cellar design in a modern idiom, apparently unhampered by cost. For family visiting, it is unrivalled.”
Then after lunch visiting the stunning cellar door and sampling a 2010 Print Shiraz, a 2012 Blackwood Park Riesling or an Airstrip Marsanne - Roussanne - Viognier white (my favourite Mitchelton wines).
Now new generations of switched-on, savvy wine drinkers are likely to discover Mitchelton via social media or at venues such as the Mitchelton Wine Bar at the Woolshed, Docklands (as part of Virgin Australia’s Melbourne Fashion Festival).
This results in different style wines coming from vineyards in close proximity to one another within Mitchelton. idyllic location – the rest (and there’s plenty) is but the cherry on top of the cake. Some cake, some cherry! There aren’t many wineries in Australia, let alone the world, you can access via a scenic river cruise, calling in at the historic Tahbilk Winery on the return trip. From a wine growing and making perspective
Mitchelton has long made quality, albeit under-appreciated wines, since the days of the late Colin Preece and the talented Don Lewis’s multiple gold-medal-winning 1975 Mitchelton Riesling – now selling under the Blackwood Park Riesling label. Today winemaker Travis Clydesdale is focused on optimising fruit quality and taking
Ryan wants to replicate the success of Leeuwin Estate and the Yarra Valley’s Rochford Wines by establishing Mitchelton as a contemporary entertainment centre capable of hosting not only rock bands, but also the likes of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who performed at a Mitchelton twilight concert in 1990.
» Mitchelton Wines 470 Mitchellstown Road, Nagambie, Victoria 5736 2222 mitchelton.com.au » The Goulburn Explorer River Boat Cruiser Cruises operate from the first weekend in November until the last weekend in April and daily throughout the school holidays. 5736 2222 or 5794 2373
THE MELB OUR NE R EVIEW MARCH 2014
FORM D E S I G N • P L A N N I N G • I N N OVAT I O N
X MARKS THE SPOT Plans to change the existing 41 Exhibition St address of the Australian Institute of Architects into an exemplar of integrated and sustainable architecture have come full circle.
Lyons Architects. Photo: John Gollings
40 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW MARCH 2014
HIDDEN ROME IN MELBOURNE BY COLIN HOLDEN
ntil June 22, visitors to the State Library of Victoria’s Murdoch gallery will be able to enjoy Rome: Piranesi’s Vision, the most extensive exhibition of works by eighteenth-century printmaking genius Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) to have been presented in Australia. His evocative views of Rome with its baroque churches and palaces, and of classical ruins across much of Italy, transport us effortlessly back into an eighteenth-century world. His early training as an architect underlies much of his work, but in his Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), a series of 135 unusually large prints his artistic genius almost enables him to draw out the individual personality of each building that he depicts. His art was extensively patronised by the aristocrats, gentry, scholars and collectors from everywhere in Europe, whose extended travels across continental Europe in search of cultural enlightenment were already known as `the Grand Tour’. Parts of the world that he depicted is closer to our own than we might ﬁrst expect. We might begin with the facades of the State Library itself, the Collins Street Baptist church and former East Melbourne Baptist church: all feature Corinthian columns support triangular pediments. It was the kind of façade that had been used for many classical temples including the Pantheon, the subject of several of Piranesi’s prints, and much later, baroque architects harnessed it for the facades of
churches. Unquestionably the most famous of these in Rome is Bernini’s St Peter’s, the subject of several impressive works by Piranesi, including an intriguing bird’s-eye view. It is not just a coincidence that Melbourne contains echoes of the architecture that Piranesi loved. A number of the nineteenth-century architects who designed buildings in Melbourne had inherited traditions that stemmed from eighteenth century Europe’s neo-classical revival. Rathdowne Street’s Sacred Heart church with its twin towers is another Melbourne building whose models appear in a number of Piranesi’s prints. Borromini and Rainaldi’s church of St Agnese dominates one side of the Piazza Navona, the subject of two of Piranesi’s vedute. When St Agnese was completed in the middle of the seventeenth century, it was widely regarded as a more successful example of a dome ﬂanked by twin towers than those of St Peter’s by Bernini. (Combining a dome with twin towers was then regarded as a kind of intellectual conundrum, an architectural equivalent of squaring the circle.) Ahead of Bernini at St Peter’s, Carlo Maderno designed a pair of towers that were added to the Pantheon, again visible in Piranesi’s views. Nicknamed `the asses’ ears’, they were removed in 1883. Though the Rathdowne Street church lacks a dome, it belongs in the same architectural family.
Veduta di Campo Vaccino
A number of Piranesi’s prints show aristocratic palaces and villas, built or rebuilt close to or during his own lifetime. The Melbourne building that most closely resembles them is J. J. Clark’s Old Treasury Building. In the case of the villas and palaces in Piranesi’s prints, their architects had absorbed classical standards either by a direct reading of the classical Roman architect Vitruvius, or from having absorbed the publications of
Renaissance architects such as Palladio, who derived their standards from earlier Roman sources. We do not know whether Clark had been directly exposed to either Palladio or Vitruvius, but it was easy enough in the early nineteenth century to ﬁnd architectural pattern books that reﬂected their standards. As well as the nineteenth-century architects who transplanted the classical and later Roman
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The Melbourne Review March 2014 41
FORM circular buildings, including many pavilions and follies in gardens. (There are also echoes of this temple in the Temple of the Winds in the Botanical Gardens). Meanwhile, not far from the Kew war memorial, the dome of Xavier College’s chapel is visible from many points east of the city. Perhaps more than any other single building in Melbourne, it recalls the ethos of the churches in Piranesi’s cityscapes, rather than the revival gothic fashionable here for most nineteenth-century churches. At many points, viewers of Rome: Piranesi’s Vision will be reminded that the scope of reference of much of Melbourne’s architecture is international. It is easy to find echoes of Piranesi’s Rome here today, if only we look.
Veduta dellArco di Tito.
worlds to corners of Melbourne, at least two twentieth-century architects designed quite different structures in our cityscape that reference the worlds we see in Piranesi. The local councillor who designed the war memorial near Kew Junction clearly had the so-called temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli in mind. In the hill country outside Rome, Tivoli had been a favourite location for summer retreats and the
site of a beautiful circular temple from the first century BC, long thought to be dedicated to an ancient Roman prophetess. It was the subject of three of Piranesi’s vedute, each showing it from a different angle, and each exaggerating the scale of this essentially modest temple. From the beginning of the sixteenth century onwards, it had been the model for architects all over Europe when designing a variety of
»»Dr Colin Holden is the Exhibition Curator, Rome: Piranesi’s vision and author, Piranesi’s Grandest Tour: from Europe to Australia. He is Senior Fellow of the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne »»Rome: Piranesi’s vision Continues until June 22 Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria 328 Swanston St. Melbourne slv.vic.gov.au/rome
42 The Melbourne Review March 2014
X Marks the Spot Plans to change the existing 41 Exhibition St address of the Australian Institute of Architects into an exemplar of integrated and sustainable architecture have come full circle.
1X stands as an impressive contemporary contribution to Melbourne’s streetscape. The 22 storey building houses the Victorian chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects over five levels, with the rest to be filled by commercial office oriented strata title clients. This is the first strata commercial office tower in Melbourne to explicitly target a goal of carbon neutrality over its 30 year lifespan and has achieved a 5 Star Green Star rating to boot. Governor General, Quentin Bryce opened 41X earlier this month, stating that, “41X
successfully shows how private and not-forprofit organisations can have a positive impact on the development of our cities by creating world class, cutting-edge, environmentally responsible commercial buildings.” This environmentally neutral tower is also intended to become a hub for architecture and design. Here the public, architects and design enthusiasts will be able to meet and mingle. Level 1 will house a ‘design haven’, replete with the Architext bookshop and boutique cafe, and the Australian Institute of Architects will curate a series of events focussing on architecture and design.
This merging of worlds commercial and public was always a part of the brief for 41X. In 2008, the Australian Institute of Architects held a two-stage design competition to see what would be done with the site. Lyons Architects won the competition with its hybrid design of public/commercial space. Adrian Stanic, Director of Lyons Architects, explains: “The design explores the idea of joining together a
public and commercial building, by connecting the city street space with Institute occupied levels. A major stair, visible from Flinders Lane, facilitates this and makes public engagement a focal point of the building.”
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