‘Building a Collection’ @ NGV

27 08 2009

The full title of this exhibition is ‘Building a Collection: Recent acquisition of prints and drawings‘, and it at the NGV International.

I visited this exhibition on a day when I actually went to the NGV with the sole intent of seeing if the jewellery collection had changed over yet. The last time the display changed was some time between the 3rd and 26th of April – I’ve been going back once or twice a month to see the next change-over, but have been disappointed to date. Perhaps I should have believed the information-desk person when they told me the display changes every three or four months, instead of wishing it to be more regular! It’s been four months now – so I’m holding my breath and am ready to see new objects.

Anyway, on my way out I remembered the new print exhibition. The gallery is on the ground floor and is decorated in the style of the late 1960s in a homage to the original St Kilda road gallery spaces. The walls are a pale peach-pink, which was apparently meant to be warm and welcoming; but a background colour isn’t my favourite thing as I think it literally colours how I perceive the art. On one wall of this exhibition though it actually seems a suitable colour – the below lithographs are by Maurice Denis, 1897-98.

photograph taken with persmission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

The prints and drawings in this exhibition span dates from the earliest print now in the collection, c1465 ‘Master of the E Series Tarocchi’ (image on NGV site), up to contemporary work. Consistent with the title, all shown were purchased since 2002. I found it interesting that some were from funds donated by ‘an anonymous donor’ – I like the idea of donating funds to the NGV (when I become fantastically wealthy!), but I do believe I am vain enough to ask for my name to be written under the art bought with my help.

The highlight for me was a large-scale etching by Grayson Perry, ‘Map of an Englishman’, 2004 [further images here and here, the second allowing close-ups of each panel and is definitely worth checking out]. I think I’ve written before about my love for maps, so it is no surprise I love this.

photograph taken with permission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

There is so much to see here. The features I love the most, aside from some insightful and hilarious ‘place-names’ (including ‘Smacked-arse-in-the-moonlight’ and ‘Pretentious-moi’) is that the ‘Dreams’ region is an island not connect to the mainland, and that the two main landmasses are connected by a bridge between the major cities of ‘Love’ and ‘Sex’.

photograph taken with permission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

The complexity of the village and town buildings tell a story – it is interesting that ‘Sex’ is a vast fortified place, the walls of ‘Love’ aren’t so high, and ‘G-spot’ (in the ‘Cliche’ region) is quite a lovely round walled township not too far away from ‘Yes-yes-yes’ and ‘Up-a-bit’. Spending time looking at this work of art was an utter delight!

Building a Collection: Recent acquisitions of prints and drawings‘  is at the NGV until 31st January 2010.

Nicholas Building open studio

26 08 2009

This Thursday and Friday afternoons (27 & 28th August), from 4 – 9pm, selected artists in the Nicholas Building (37 Swanston, cnr Flinders Lane, entry via Cathedral Arcade) will open their studios. A must-see – there are lots of jewellers!


RMIT jewellery auction – the night

24 08 2009

I was so dearly hoping to add to my collection at this year’s auction, but was defeated by an amazingly enthusiastic crowd doing some fantastic bidding!


just before the start

The venue was packed initially, but the crowd reduced a little after the first break.  I do have to admit that I went home (like a nana, I know) during the second set (of four) as I was feeling mighty weary, and more importantly had been out-bid on the brooch I really really wanted – a beautiful enamelled piece by Claire O’Halloran [piece, her site]. That’s not to say there weren’t lovely pieces after #31 of #101, but I did have my heart set…

In my day (again, nana, I know) we were impossibly tickled and impressed when a piece reached $150 say – but this year that mark was effortlessly sailed past by many in the first and early second set … a good indication indeed of the wealth of support for this event and the artists and the artform. Someone next to me remarked: ‘what global financial crisis’.

A lot of effort goes in to organising this kind of event (especially while also attempting to concentrate on producing a body of work for assessment in a few short months), and each graduating year learns from the previous years. The one tip (by no means meant as a criticism of this year’s event) I would suggest to next year’s group is to look for a larger venue – this annual evening is so very popular, and as alumni and general community support continues to grow, more seats and room will become necessary. That said though, through my own experience, I completely understand how hard it is to find a venue that ticks all the boxes – close to uni (for safe transport of pieces and organisation), drinkies for the bidders, a good feel, a least a little protection from random-crazy-dudes who wander by and make havoc (this happened a few times in the past), and not too expensive to hire (preferably free), with the facilities for holding an auction (stage/platform, audio, lights, projector, etc). It is easy to underestimate how successful you’ll be and I would venture to say that every year has been surprised by it – perhaps planning for a very large attendance sometimes feels like tempting fate. This was actually a pretty good venue, but if only it was a smidge larger.

The most impressive development was the on-line previewing – the photography was exceptional, and it did relieve some of the pressure to get to the boards to see the pieces on the night. This must be continued in future years, it is almost necessary.

I hope the graduate group had a fantastic night and that the fundraising was most successful!

Please feel free to share your experiences of the evening – did you get to take home the piece you had your heart set on? Did you stay to the end and have some more stories to share?

My jewellery collection #2

21 08 2009

Following the first post on my own jewellery collection, the next piece I wanted to share was one of the other three necklaces the weird-stealing people didn’t take.

It’s a fairly simple sterling silver production piece from a jeweller’s workshop in the Orkney Islands (far north Scotland). Again, it has quite a bit of sentimental value because it reminds me of the week holiday I spent in Scotland. It was around summer solstice and I was so excited to be so far north at that time of year. One of my most amazing memories of the holiday was a morning I got up at 3:30am to walk to the Callanish standing stone circle on the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides island) and it was already dawning … amazing.

Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Anyway, the necklace … the Orkney Islands is popular with artists and it was fantastic fun to hire a little car and scoot around the island visiting various workshops. I just wanted to take something home with me as a souvenir; and the story behind this pendant was interesting, and I liked the maker.

The design is inspired by the story of a woman buried on the islands in a Viking ship (for scale, it is around 30mm wide).


The maker’s name has been lost to the mists of my memory – but if you recognise it or know the maker, please do let me know!

… last post on my jewellery collection #1