Saturday, July 05, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings - round the traps

Photo: Gordon Smith, Khan's Mine Adit 1

It seemed a good idea to begin this blog round up with a photo from Gordon Smith, lookANDsee. This particular shows an adit, lower left, from one of the many old mines lying in the gorge country to the east of Armidale.

Gordon himself has been back in Sydney, something that I know he would prefer to avoid, so has continued his Sydney photo series.

As a photographer, Gordon roams. When in Armidale he roams the surrounding ranges. In Sydney, he roams the streets looking for shots. Do have a browse. In writing about one old building, Gordon says:

This grand old building, on the edge of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, was formerly used by New South Wales Government Railways but has been left to grow into a state a disrepair - very sad.

I though that the comment could equally well apply to NSW itself. In disrepair, but still with faded signs of past glories.

Neil's template instability has continued! Leaving that aside, in Smart Art he carried some rather nice reproductions of the work of the Australian artist Jeffrey Smart. I like Smart's work, and enjoyed the paintings.

To me, Smart's work is very Australian. We live in a visual world surrounded by images and visual language. In all this, I find it remarkable how little exposure Australian art actually gets.

Still on art, it has been a little while since I visited Will Owen's Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye. I can only describe this as a serious error of judgment. Will has had so many good posts recently that I don't know where to begin in describing them. They really deserve a full essay in their own right.

I spoke of visual language in the context of Jeffrey Smart. As Thomas (still overseas) suggested in Tone, meaning, and socialisation, language has meaning because of the way we attach meaning to symbols, the words we use. The writer has one meaning in mind, the reader another. Communication depends upon shared meaning.

Something of the same thing holds for visual language.

All painters paints from their own context and experience. We can appreciate the painting as a work of art, attaching our reactions to it. We often appreciate it more when there is some linkage, a context if you like, between the painting and us.

Now take a look at Will's Warlayirti Artists, Balgo (Wirrimanu), WA. Here we have a juxtaposition between art works and photographs. Here if you look, you can see the linkage between art and landscape, the way in which varying colours and textures translate from one to the other.

I am not a desert person, although I do claim to be a country one, since I grew up in Australia's New England. This, the country of many of Gordon Smith's photos, can be rugged, but is less stark.

Yet while my own country is different, I can appreciate the colour and form in Will's photos and the link between this and the art. I have been imprinted with the visual images and the stories attached to them.

There can be no greater contrast between all this and the Virginia green Will reveals in Mr Kluge's Gift. This is an interesting story from an Australian perspective because I, for one, had not been aware of this US collection of Aboriginal art.

Mixed with the many posts on different aspects of Aboriginal art, many with stunning visuals, are a number of posts dealing with the Northern Territory intervention, triggered by its anniversary.

I did not write on this at the time, in part because I had nothing useful to say beyond a feel that the whole thing was being re-captured by the attitudes and policies that had so failed us in the past.

I cannot come at these things from the same perspective as some of my urban friends and colleagues. When I look at some of these communities, at things like the out-station movement, I do not see Aboriginal, I see country. In this sense, I am colour blind. I see no difference in problems in medical services or education between a small NSW country town and an NT community. The core difficulties are the same, accepting that there will always be local variations.

In My new book, Geoff Robinson reports on the forthcoming publication of When the Labor Party Dreams: class, politics and policy in New South Wales 1930-32. Congratulations, Geoff. I will read with interest. I reserve the right to be critical!

Marcellous's musical mania continues, an education in its own right, as does his interest in bike riding.

I don't know if I mentioned this, but David Maister (one of the management gurus within professional services) has suspended his blogging, at least for the present. I can understand. My two purely professional blogs are badly behind, and I need to do something about this. I hope that David returns re-charged in due course.

Good lord, look at the time. So much still to write, but I do need to stop.

No comments: