We finally managed to make it to the Mona, the Museum of New and Old Art, in Hobart, Tasmania. There’s quite a bit of hype about this new museum Down Under, and it is certainly different from what we are used to in Australia. The museum is the baby of David Walsh, a millionaire from Tasmania who made his fortune with gambling systems and owns a private art collection. He decided to give something back to the place he is from and built a museum to his image. The museum itself is quite different – the architecture is amazing and worth the trip itself. To get to the Mona you can drive, but what I reckon is the cooler way to reach it is by using Mona’s private boat, painted camouflage-style and with cool stuff inside – you can also enjoy food and coffee and the half-hour ride is very relaxing. Upon arrival, a flight of stairs takes you up to the museum. Watch out if you are going on a weekend, it gets very busy – both the museum and the boat, so book in advance. What I liked about the museum is: the eclectic art collection; the theme is definitely sex and death, but the variety and originality in the pieces of art is quite amazing; the architecture, as I mentioned before; the fact that it is in Hobart; and how everyone gets into it. There are however a few things that didn’t gel with me: the space is quite narrow, and when it is busy, it gets really hard to walk around and the atmosphere gets stuffy (it’s all underground too, very dark and with no windows); there is no signage next to the art: what you are supposed to do is use an App or your phone or get headphones (they are available) – the problem I see with that is that if you are with someone and want to talk about what you are seeing, you can’t do that with headphones, and you don’t necessarily want to listen to a recording; when I looked around I could see many visitors reading their App instead of looking at the Art; there is no other way to know what you are looking at and this is annoying; there is also no visible logic in how the art is exhibited; and finally, because it is a maze, you end up missing some of the art. It’s still a great experience. There are also bars and restaurants and cafes to relax and enjoy a glass of wine of the nearby wineries. There’s even a brewery. If you get there early, you may get a seat!
Category Archives: Exhibitions
I saw a wonderful exhibition today, which shows a selection of around 60 paintings and calligraphies by three artists, Lu Chen (1935–2003), Zhou Sicong (1939–1996), and Shi Hu (1942– ). Pictures are mostly in ink and colour on paper, and were collected by Dr Leung Kam Ching over the course of thirty years. Some of the pictures are exquisite; they need to be seen from various angles to realise the power that lies underneath each one. My favourite ones are from Shi Hu and Lu Chen. “A keen collector of Chinese antiquities, Dr Leung began to include contemporary paintings to his Jian Gu Xuan collection in the 1980s. Leung’s interest in traditional Chinese culture, and specifically the expression of the human figure, can be seen as a consistent theme throughout his painting collection. Another prominent theme is that of friendship as Leung’s collecting of these paintings arose out of his close personal relationships both with the husband and wife team of Lu Chen and Zhou Sicong, as well as with the iconoclastic contemporary artist Shi Hu.” (Extract from the exhibition’s brochure)
The exhibition was supposed to end on 15 February, but I went on the 16th and it was still open, so you may try your luck. I love the calligraphy below.
The exhibition is held at the University Museum and Art Gallery – UMAG
94 Bonham Road, Pokfulam (University of Hong Kong) – Hong Kong
Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 9:30 am to 6:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 to 6:00 pm
Admission is free.
I went to see a great exhibition today entitled “An aerial portrait of our planet – toward a sustainable development”, consisting of about a hundred or so aerial photographs taken by famous French photographer and environmentalist Yann Arthus Bertrand. The photos are amazing. I own a book by Arthus Bertrand, Earth from Above, which was published a few years ago, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the photos in the exhibition were not all from the book. The exhibition focusses on sustainability and renewable forms of energy. It is staggering to know that only around 14% of energy currently produced in the world is renewable… The pictures are beautiful and have each a deeper meaning, from New Orleans’ houses covered by water after hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, to waste dumps in Africa or France, or land mines in Australia. The exhibition is held at the Open Piazza, Olympian City 2, Kowloon, Hong Kong (Olympic MTR Station), and lasts until 26 December.
I don’t want to infringe copyright by posting photos on this blog, but for those interested, you can visit Arthus Bertrand’s gallery site here. There are a lot of beautiful photos to be browsed on the site. There are even many free, stunning screen savers for your computer.
If you have the time and manage to get tickets (I heard it’s sold out), there is a fantastic exhibition in Hong Kong at the moment. The Animated Version of the Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival, which was exhibited at the China Pavilion of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China, is currently in Hong Kong! Projected on a screen of more than hundred and twenty metre long and six metre high, the picture is really amazing. It’s as if you were sent back to Bianjing, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, nine hundred years ago. The animated version of the picture is thirty times the original. You can admire the bustling streets, the moving boats and the people walking in all directions. The picture shows night and day cycles lasting four minutes each.
Zhang Zeduan’s “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival” is among the top ten most famous Chinese historical paintings. It depicts the life of the various social classes in Bianjing during the Qingming Festival at the time of the Song Dynasty. The exhibition’s website states that “Cities in the Song Dynasty underwent drastic changes when compared with those in previous times. These were revolutionary changes for cities in China. On the one hand, the urban outlook changed a great deal such as appearance of shops and workshops along the streets, and on the other, the social life of people changed greatly such as enrichment in cultural life of civilians. In addition, the painting demonstrates the harmony among ancient citizens inside a city as well as that between urban and rural areas.” The entire piece was painted in hand scroll format. It is often called China’s Mona Lisa by the Chinese.
Here are two pictures of the original painting.
Last weekend I hopped over to Taipei for a short visit. Taiwan’s capital city is a large metropolis spreading over kilometres and kilometres. It drizzled on the first day, which gave the buildings in the older part of the city a rather gloomy look. However it was sunny the next day, and things looked much more interesting. You can’t miss the 101 Tower, the second tallest building in the world (for how long, though?). It’s a beautiful structure from which you have an amazing three hundred and sixty degree view over the sprawling city. Food, of course, is delicious, as it always is in Taiwan, with a strong influence from Japan. In fact, I can’t help notice every time I go to Taiwan, that it sits half-way between Japan and China and that it has been influenced by both cultures. People are very friendly, and many speak English in Taipei, unlike in the rest of the country. There are even national radio stations mixing English and Mandarin! What amazed me though was to find a city with hundreds of bookstores. When you come from Hong Kong, which is a real books’ no-man’s-land, seeing all those beautiful bookstores is a feast for the eyes. There is even an underground street (a shopping mall, really) which is only occupied by bookstores. It’s a shame that Taiwan uses traditional characters, so I wasn’t able to buy Chinese books, but I did enjoy spending time looking at the shelves, touching and smelling the books… At the moment there is a temporary exhibition called “Finding India” at the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Arts of Taipei), which exhibits works by Indian artists. It’s a bit “out there” for my liking, but very interesting nonetheless. I especially liked the hundreds of cockroaches glued to the walls in one of the exhibition rooms!
And here are the photos…