Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Bloody Flower and Garden Show.

I suppose as a garden enthusiast and being pretty keen on flowers I should be all for a show in their honour. But I'm not, well not this type of show anyway. I last went with mum about three years ago and we both left feeling underwhelmed. She is a keen home gardener and not an historian in any way so clearly it wasn't just me being a snob either. So what don't I like?

It annoys me that the close the gardens off for two weeks, my favourite and quickest route to work through the gardens from the corner of Victoria St and Nicholson St toward the Museum. But that area is a no go zone. Must be annoying for all the people who head there for their lunch and general daily relaxation. Plus they in fact monopolise the garden space for much longer as the exhibits are constructed and dismantled. It irks me that a public space can be shut off to the public for such a long time and that locals and visitors are charged for access. In addition some research I have done indicates that the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show essentially uses the space rent free. As an inner city resident I rely on these garden spaces to enjoy recreation and some downtime away from the built environment.

Another reason is the damage they do to the park. The grass has only just recovered from the drought and is looking luscious and green and they go and cover it in plastic and boulders and dig up the ground to plant yukkas or flax or whatever the latest trendy plant is. To add insult to injury the garden are on the World Heritage list, which is meant to give the site global recognition and legal protection!
Residents and other groups have lobbied the government and council to have the show moved elsewhere. But so far with little success. You can read a report here.

Clearly the irony of ruining a World heritage Garden in order to supposedly celebrate gardens is lost on the MIFGS and the Government who approves its use.

And that is the final annoyance, it isn't really about gardens in any meaningful way, just about consuming gardens as a commodity. Buy the latest super dooper SVU wheel barrow. Use these gloves with their amazing grip and self-cleaning ability. Subscribe to a magazine. Look at a water tank. It is all just about money. I guess on one hand this is what shows are these days. I was thinking about the Art Fair and why I quite enjoy it when it too is really about consuming art, but it also gives non-buyers the opportunity to look at masses of interesting (and boring and pretentious) art. If the art fair was run like the garden show it would have stalls selling pastels and paint brushes. I'm sure maybe 10 years ago the show used to have a lot more interesting design, it was still so designers could advertise to clients, but they also took up the challenge of presenting an interesting space. Now so much of the design follows after those ghastly backyard blitz shows with dull and uninspired and highly derivative and repetitive designs. Or nobs basically claiming they invented the idea of 'the garden room' when it has existed in garden design as far back as we have decent records. I guess the flower section is more creative in some ways, but I am too annoyed by the rest of it to go or to give them any monetary support.


There are some wonderful garden shows elsewhere but I haven't had the chance to go. Will post about them in a few days.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Save Lonsdale House

This building is under threat of demolition so a lane can be widened. Please read the article in Heritage Melbourne here.

Also see the Art Deco society page here.


Image from Heritage Melbourne.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NGV buys new Bracks painting

The NGV has bought John Brack's The Bar (1954). Press release here. Don't get broads like that behind Melbourne bars these days. Pity.

As it says in the press release, this is widely regarded as the companion to Collins St, 5pm. I look forward to going and having a look at the new one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Landscape by Paul Bril

I am just doing some filing of old articles and came across some about the landscape painter Paul Bril (c.1554-1626). I worked on him years back in undergrad in a subject where we looked at sixteenth and seventeenth century landscapes as a way of learning about connoisseurship and attribution. Shortly after it ended I went off to London for a few months and had great delight in my new found ability to spot a Paul Bril without reading the label. The paintings are typically small landscapes on copper and have a jewel-like quality. Oil paint on copper tends to hold its colour well so the blues and greens of landscapes are usually brighter than similar works on canvas. Here is a landscape, now at the National Gallery of Scotland, simply titled 'Fantastic Landscape', in reference to the fantastical nature of the scene depicted, but also possibly because it is bloody brilliant, hah. It was painted after Bril's arrival in Rome but the scenery depicted is reminscent of Netherlands where he was born, the rocky outcrops in particular, as well as fragments of ruin common to Italian landscapes. Image courtesy of the National Gallery Scotland, link to painting here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Old Signs

There is a google map dedicated to old Melbourns signs, generally commercial signs that refer to something that no longer exists, or has moved on. It can become quite an obsession once you start looking at them.

Link to the map, clicky.

Link to the discussion on Walking Melbourne, clicky.

One I spotted on Lt Lonsdale St near the Spring St end, behind Casselden Place.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Snapshot, Everglades

An image of the garden at Everglades in NSW, designed in the 1930s it incorporates a range of style, including elements of the Italian and French Baroque garden revival that is found in many American designs of the same period. I wish I had more photos of the garden, I had taken some old style film shots but can't find them. Still, these windows scenes are winners.The first two are the one window.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rain rain rain

I didn't actually get stuck in the rain yesterday so I felt all happy and took some photos of buildings in puddles before stamping in said puddles in excitement.
I got stuck in it today and felt less charitable.
The damp and dripping garden is one we don't see much of lately in Melbourne.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snapshot, St Kilda

The St Kilda City Hall in the late afternoon sun. The architect was William Pitt and the hall was constructed between 1890-1925.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What I'm working on... Versailles

I am currently doing some research on the fête, or divertissments held at Versailles during Louis XIV's reign. Music, theatre and gardens all came together to create a powerful political symbolism, but they also reveal much about the way that Baroque gardens were regarded, as stages for performance. The performances often lasted several days and would include ballets, feasts, concerts, plays and carousels. In recent years Versailles has once again become a stage for grand spectacles, I hope to go and see one sometime soon. Visit the photo gallery here.

All images courtesy of the British Museum online image database (go and browse, hours of fun await.)

Israel Silvestre - Première journée- The Four Seasons, with musicians. From Les plaisirs de l'ile enchantée, 1664.

Israel Silvestre -
Troisième Journée - Explosion of the palace set on the garnd canal. From Les plaisirs de l'ile enchantée, 1664.

Jean Lepautre -Sixième journée - Illumination of the Grand Canal. From Les divertissments des Versailles, 1674.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Juvarra

This is the Superga in Turin. It sits atop a mountain and in theory looks down upon the Po Valley if it weren't for all the smog from those Fiats. It was designed by Fililppo Juvarra for the Savoy family and constructed from 1715 onwards. It is easy to observe the strong vertical emphasis common to much of Juvarra's work.

The view toward the alps, the church is 675 metres above sea level.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Oops, a long hiatus. I have been writing writing all day long so blogging has fallen away a little.

There is a wonderful exhibition on at the NGV at the moment if you are in Melbourne. The work of Carlo Bugatti, his sons Ettore and Rembrandt, and Ettore's son Gianoberto (Jean). The exhibition includes sculpture, furniture and cars, good to see a great big engine in a gallery. The animal sculptres are wonderful, crying out to be touched. The furniture is crazy, wonderful crazy.

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