Art Gallery Gazing.

27 June 2014

When my artist cousin, Maria, comes to visit, where would we find ourselves but at the galleries. The local Penrith Regional Gallery and the State Gallery of NSW, two places which could not be more different. Each beautiful in its own way. Each inspiring. 

I like to gaze at art.
Sometimes I think, "Is that art!?!?"
Sometimes I think, "Wow!"
Sometimes I think, "Mmmm."

My local Penrith Regional Gallery, MLP and I fondly refer to as the snake gallery.

One weekend in the not too distant past, as we wandered leisurely through an exhibition of 1950s  holiday art and photography, we turned a corner to be face to face with the most amazing little fold-down 1950s caravan. I have a very soft spot for vintage. And vintage caravans, well, I'd love to own one, to do one up, to go weekending in one. So when I spotted this one, my heart leapt. I oohed and aahed and moved in closer to peer in the windows. "Oh, look at that! ... and that" … and then MLP barked, "There's a snake!" and jerked me backwards.

My heart REALLY leapt as I watched a red bellied black snake disappear inside the caravan's crevices.

Initially, MLP thought the slithery one was made of rubber and quaintly part of the exhibit. Snakes and holidays go hand in hand, don't they? But once it moved, that thought vanished.

The Gallery was closed forthwith. The snake catcher called. Our gallery gazing was over.

Despite these laugh-about-it-now memories, it is a gallery worth frequent visits.

The Lewers Bequest house attached to the gallery is my favourite section.

This visit, its verandah posts have been bombed by a group called Random Acts of Knitting and Love. I have to find out more about this group. I like their style. Perhaps I could join them.

The home's verandah has been made warm and toasty for winter.

Inside the art is graphic and colourful and wanders off the canvasses onto the walls. I like that.

And, as always, has an interactive section for kids … and adults who like to feel like kids again. Well, you have to have a go, don't you?

Unfortunately, the gallery cafe, always with the most scrumptious food, is closed on Mondays and we have to move on for lunch.

Later that week in our cousinly ramblings, we venture to the State Gallery of NSW. Architecturally, it dwarfs the snake gallery.

And its art is … well … grander.

I have my WOW moment when I see this.

Ben Quilty's Margaret Olley.
Archibald Prize winning and jaw-droppingly WOW.

The paint has been applied in great thick strokes.

Cousins, and ring-in strangers, sit and gaze.

I think it's far better than the Dobell, another Archiblad winner. I like Quilty's style.

I know so much about art that I can make these opinionated statements!?!

What about you? Which do you prefer?

I ponder how many hours must have been taken to perfect the installation in the entry hall. How many minions painstakingly taped ribbon after ribbon after ribbon in orchestrated sequence?

Its beautifully graduated colour deceives the eye.

I like this too.

And the juxtaposing of old and new.

And Jeffrey Smart. Love his work.

Maria points out some still-life. I'm normally not drawn to still-life, but these two are special.

Tiny repetitive brush strokes.

Crisp, sharp lines.

A couple of Mmmm moments.

A patchwork style piece makes me move in closer to inspect the stitching. My mother's influence.

Max Dupain, the master of black and white photography.

I like this sculpture too. I think it's the Art Deco beauty of it. 

Picasso even makes an appearance. Bizarre, yet intriguing.

And as we ate our divine Vietnamese chicken salad at the gallery cafe for lunch (Luckily this one was open), these two little lorikeets kept us entertained.

So, there you go. Libby's cultural tour for the week.

We enjoyed it. Did you?

Are you an art tragic like me?

I can't explain the nuances or the symbolism.

I can't explain the appeal.

I like what I like, but I don't know why I like it.

We wined dined in the David Jones Food Hall on our way home. OMG!

But that's another cultural experience.

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