Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Nolan’

Australia Day

January 23, 2013


Soon we will have another day off. Just when I was rejoicing things were getting back to normal. I so wish we could just celebrate things without special days. Can’t all days be a bit special and normal? There seems to be an obligation about ‘special days’, and when many don’t feel any different there is the danger of feeling rejected and then dejection might easily follow. I mean, are we going to wake up different, jump out of bed next Monday and feel elated because it is Australia day? Will I not make the first coffee of the day, overlook the previous night’s dishes and the red stained wine glasses all left in the sink filled with cold greasy water with on top floating a halo of onion infused film of grease?

I noticed at the local supermarkets there was an atmosphere again of rejuvenation and optimism with a kind lady smiling at me in the butter section. Why is it that the dairy divisions of supermarkets seem to attract friendly customers? Perhaps it is the nature of those basic ingredients; butter, cheese, milk and yogurt that brings out our inherent friendliness.

The Christmas did take a lot out of people. With the public holiday next Monday, this feeling of a growing sense of normalcy returning while still so fragile, could well unravel easily. Routine gets disturbed.

I always felt that when overseas, especially in warm tropical countries, ever day often seemed a celebration and one lost the idea of it being a Sunday or even a lousy Wednesday. Is it a peculiar western thing to have days off to celebrate something?

Anyway, even Eurocentric Aldi is now selling those collapsible blue canvassed chairs with a kind of Southern Star Australian emblem screen printed on the seating. I suppose it is meant to be sat upon while watching the fireworks next Monday, Australia Day. I haven’t looked closely to see if it has one of those fish netted pouches to put a drink in. In advertising those chairs I noticed that Harvey Norman mentions those chairs as including having a…..’ drink station.’

At no stage have people on the streets ever been as thirsty as now. I can’t remember, (I could be wrong) but in my youth we never crossed streets while sipping some liquid from a bottle. It was never such a harrowing experience crossing a street in fear of dehydration before having reached the other side. Yet, today almost all have a bottle clutched in the hand and a mobile phone in the other. I suppose to call triple zero in case the other side hasn’t been reached.

Whatever, it must be such a boon for those drinks manufacturers. Can you imagine paying $ 3.20 for a bottle of water? As a young boy I used to lay awake in glorious anticipation of getting a drink of orange cordial next morning at my birthday. They were prepared by my mother the day before. Whole rows of them all filled to the same level and covered by a tea towel.  The drinks would be shared by my brothers and sister and invited friends.

Now, young people buy a fizzy drink, take a sip, and chuck the still almost full full bottle in the local park in contemptible defiance. I have often been tempted to pick up one of those almost full bottles and take a sip, perhaps as a way of atonement or making amends for those days of frugal pasts. I doubt however if the taste of those abandoned cola or other fizzy drinks could ever reach the delicious heights of those post war cordials waiting under mum’s tea towel in anticipation of next morn’s birthday…

How the sun keeps rising for the lucky young able to cross streets, take sips and then chuck away the almost full bottles?

We never took that kind of liberty for granted.

As for Australia Day. It should celebrate something, some event or happening. Is there an Argentine day, an Italy day or even a Finland day? I find it difficult to celebrate  being a larrikin or fond of sport and drinking. Perhaps it ought to be a celebration of something else, a kind of celebration of our artistic achievements, what with Australian aboriginal rock and cave art and present aboriginal art being unique and very Australian. Then we have Patrick White and Sydney Nolan as well…together, very Australian.

Reverence for Phar Lap’s Heart ,what about Patrick White?

April 6, 2012

Last week-end’s Australian Review featured a double paged article about a new book being published, almost two decades after the writer’s death, written by our national icon and Noble Prize Winner, Patrick White. It’s called ‘The Hanging Garden’. Its timely rescue from possible oblivion due to David Marr’s boundless admiration for Paddy whom he quoted as the ”most prodigious literary imagination in the history of this nation.”

Hang on; national icons, I thought they were Donald Bradman or Phar Lap. It is strange that our sport heroes continue to have a greater place in our admiration than our much more enduring artists. We can still read Patrick White or listen to our Joan Sutherland but somehow dead sport heroes seem to have priority over our artists. (Do people really watch old footage of Bradman swinging out with his bat?)Perhaps this is because there is very little public exposure of our deceased artists. We don’t easily bump into them, especially not in bronzed sculptures scattered around our public parks.

We all know that people in Russia are well provided with larger than life size bronze statues scattered around most of their public parks and open spaces. Those sculptures usually depict the heroic male farm worker holding a scythe or a stout busty female pointing a sheaf of wheat skywards with a clutch of children at her feet. It’s hard to take a seat anywhere in public and not be overlooked by the revolutionaries of Russia. Enormous Lenin’s also made those eating pirozhki at Gorki Central park of Culture and Leisure a rather noble and humbling experience.

Fortunately, the bronzed sculptures are not all heroes of revolution or political mayhem. Many are also of their writers, poets and other artistic giants. While I was there I saw many very pensive and good looking Pushkins about. The bearded Tolstoys seemed to feature much less in number. This might well be for technical reasons. It is not easy to cast a figure with large flowing beard and seated in a cane chair into a bronze statue. What do you think the pigeons would do perched on the cane chair?

We don’t revere our mayhem causing revolutionaries and political   wreckers to that degree. We would be very chagrined stepping out of the train at Wynyard being greeted by a life size Beazley on horseback. Can we imagine for one moment, after a big night out at the Bankstown RSL, bumping into a John Howard with cricket bat?

We do have a stern looking Queen Victoria at the entrance to the Queen Victoria Building near Sydney’s Town-hall. She hails from such a historical distance away that we accept her as easy as we do a park-bench. She served our calm Anglo history very well. The kids just love her too.

Captain Cook is peering beyond distant horizons. He just needs an occasional dusting of his binoculars. Not much further is a mysterious bronze pig whose snout gets polished together with coins being donated for the hospital just behind it.  I am not sure if the pig polishing and coin throwing is still connected to making a wish as well! The relentless march of history has a habit of finally blurring out the edges.

Another animal cast in heavy metal is the Gundagai drover’s dog. I could not see him at the spot he was supposed to be last time. Perhaps dogs roam around even after cast in bronze.  Maybe the drover’s tucker box was getting empty.

A weird and rather spooky relic of the past is the sad and somewhat forlorn sight of a large heart kept in a jar of alcohol. It is Phar Lap’s ticker. For those outside Australian territories and our horse ignorant young; Phar Lap was one of the fastest horses to run around a race course. It was a phenomenal winner, making lots of money for the punters. I can’t imagine the horse being too impressed if it knew its heart ended up being pickled inside a jar.

The omission of our well known artists cast in bronze seems to stick out somewhat. Mind you, not far from my place we do have that famous icon, a cricketer in tarnished bronze. His name is Donald Bradman. He is famous and certainly an artist with the bat & ball. People queue up to get their picture taken standing next to him. They arrive from all parts of the world, even Fiji and Pakistan.

Are we ready to grace our parks and public open spaces with sculptures celebrating our best in the arts. Why can’t we have our greatest writer, Patrick White being honored with a life size sculpture or even a statue? I know he would be horrified but he won’t see it. His ashes were scattered around Centennial Park.  He was always a bit grumpy when it came to bestowing recognition and fame on him. He would rather stay home than face the media or the hungry crowds.

He was a modest man. Even so, we do need to give greater recognition to our creative artists…For posterity.  For our children. They need to know and see our artists as well as the sporting heroes.

What about a Joan Sutherland in bronze, a corrugated zinc alume armored Sydney Nolan? Perhaps a Brett Whitely in shimmering stainless steel next?

Just let’s start first with Patrick White though. I can see him already, jutted jaw, his mouth firmly set, looking straight at us. A bit miffed but pleased about ‘The Hanging Garden’ also been published.