Mystery over – just arrived in Uluru, Northern Territory 

Staying at Desert Gardens Hotel and this is the view that greeted me when I checked into my room. It’s been six years since I last visited but I’ve never forgotten how truly awesome and humbling this area is. So I’m really excited to be back. Tonight we’re off to see the art installation Field of Light by Bruce Munro which has been so successful that it has been extended by a year and is a key reason for my visit. 

Now off for a pre Field of Light drink with Emma.

Uluru always impressive – this is an 3.30pm

NGV – Ian Potter Centre

Continuing my efforts to be a tourist in my home city I found myself wondering through the Ian Potter Centre on Flinders Street. I hadn’t been for a long time so I walked through the whole thing and as ever there were two paintings in particular that kept drawing me back. Although before I get to those, I would be remiss in not mentioning the “Who’s afraid of Colour” exhibit which was not at all what I expected (in a good way). 

Anyway, I kept coming back to two John Brack paintings – the first is called 5pm on Collins Street and is dated 1955 and the second is called The Bar and dated 1954 O(when apparently bars had to close by 6pm so it is no wonder everyone is heading out with a mission in the first paining)! I live close to Collins Street so know exactly where the first painting is set and wonder if much has changed? Maybe those crowds are more likely at 6pm and no more hats on the men but thankfully more women in the crowd. Do people still look that miserable?

As for the lady at the bar – clearly you wouldn’t want to mess with her but she also retains a particular charm which made me smile – and check out those fab earrings.

Enjoy

Melbourne, World class art at the Van Gogh exhibit but my fave piece is a simple black and white drawing

Back home but always lots to do here so visited the NGV as they have Van Gogh as their Winter Masterpieces exhibit. Of course it is hard not to love Van Gogh’s work – some of it is so passionate in its colors and vibrancy that it brings a lump to my throat. There are not many artists who can do that. This exhibit takes a seasonal approach to his work and displays the pieces by season rather than in any other chronology. Apparently he loved Autumn the most but I think his summer works are the most spectacular (but then I am rather fond of European summers). 

Given my recent visit to Japan I was interested to see that he had been heavily influenced by Japanese block prints (which are also prone to a seasonal focus) and these were shown in the exhibit also to provide context before the Van Gogh exhibit started.

Below are the Japanese block prints, some of my favorite summer paintings and finally the one that drew me back again and again. I had not seen it before. It is a simple drawing of a peasant reaping at harvest time – it was done close to before he shot himself so whether there was any double meaning with the “grim reaper” I don’t know – but there is something about it that I couldn’t stop looking at.

See what you think?

Japanese block prints that influenced Van Gogh and which he collected avidly

My personal faves

The Reaper

Malta, Gozo and last observations

On our last day we visited Gozo, the small island about 20 minutes by ferry from Malta. I’d heard mixed reviews from previous visitors – some really liked it and others weren’t too bothered. Maybe because the sun was shining and the sea was sparkling I actually liked it a lot. It is small and quiet and not changing as rapidly as Malta is – that is probably what I liked most about it – it is not full of new or being built high rises. While there we visited the GGantija Temple which is actually older than Stonehenge – who knew and also saw the many salt flats where salt is extracted from the ocean using very old methods – I will never think of sea salt in quite the same way again. All in all a nice day out in the sunshine

FINAL OBSERVATIONS

The old parts of Malta – Valletta, Mdina and others make this a special place to visit. Equally I worry about the massive construction going on as more and more foreigners flood onto the island both to holiday but also to live and retire (it is a relatively easy place to move to for retirement). The cost of living is low, the crime rate virtually non existent, the water is clear and clean and the sun shines a lot too. I look at the photo below and hope the top section remains the norm, rather than the bottom.


Next stop – home in Melbourne for a while but off again mid June.

Malta, M’dina

Visited the north of the island which I much preferred to the south. In particular I really loved M’dina – the old capital pre Valletta. It is pedestrians only and just a great place to wander around and through alleyways. It was deliberately built high up and as far as possible from the ocean so that all marauders could be spotted long before they made it to where people were living. Seems to have worked as the place is pretty much untouched from how it must have looked 500 years ago.

Gets my vote as a must see.


Malta, churches, more churches and a few cathedrals

It feels like there is a church for every inhabitant in Malta and a few to spare. Not just any churches mind you but quite a few massive cathedrals (or co-cathedrals as they call them). Churches are small, medium and many are massive with art (some of it spectacular in its own right) and gold and wood and stone carvings that would not be out of place in Rome. I think a lot were built following the arrival of the Knights of St John when they were kicked out of Rhodes by the Turks and it has gone on from there. To be honest I found the interiors somewhat excessive for my taste and I am always concerned by extravagant interiors in churches in places where the people are not exactly well off – and certainly would not have been at the time many of these were built. But equally, the Maltese are very proud of them so there you go. Take a look.