Wednesday 16 June 2021

Covid and the Melbourne Triennial

'The NGV Triennial brings contemporary art, design and architecture into dialogue, offering a visually arresting and thought-provoking view of the world at this time. Featuring major new commissions and recent works that span geography, perspective and genre, the exhibition celebrates the work of some of the world’s most accomplished artists and designers, while also giving voice to emerging practitioners'.

                                                                              Quote from the NGV website

We hadn't been to Melbourne for nearly two years so when a small window of opportunity came up in April to see the Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria we made a day trip. We spent more time travelling to and from the city than we spent in Melbourne but it was worth it.

Covid rules were still in place; we had to book free tickets in advance so that numbers entering could be controlled, the 1.5 metre social distancing rule applied and masks were highly recommended.

Once inside the NGV all thoughts of our troubled world outside were forgotten; washed away by amazing art, colour, texture, imagination.

As I am writing this two months after the visit I will not be able to credit the works I post but be assured that it was spectacular. Electronics, ancient religious art, film & video, whole room experiences, some old masters and some new masterpieces in the making, political comment, fashion, electronics, environmental works, beauty & passion.

Ever changing and overlapping the frame

The changing light in the portrait room was amazing, stars, birds flying around the room, a thunder storm!

Quite a lot of these works had movement involved so something is lost in a static photo, but still a photo reminds me of the incredible creativity of so many people.

After several hours in the gallery we headed for a late lunch before driving home. Lunch out was a rare treat so we headed to Lygon Street Carlton to one of our favourite casual places to eat.

Pasta and a glass of Italian red rounded the day out nicely. We felt the stress of the long lock-down slide away from us as we reminisced on the various works that we had seen. A few treasured hours!

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Living the Pandemic in Australia and a Visit to Echuca

 It is now sixteen months since the pandemic Coronavirus Covid 19 started to affect us and we had to make a hasty return from South Australia. It is almost twelve months since my last blogpost when the long lockdown in Victoria was getting very depressing as winter arrived. 

Life as we knew it came to a stop for us on 21st March 2020 when the whole state of Victoria went into lockdown, and there we stayed for months. Living in country Victoria we were almost free of infection so eventually had some restrictions slightly eased but still it was Rotary by Zoom, Mass by U Tube, meetings by Zoom even doctor appointments by teleconferencing. Messenger chats with the family became the norm, even a 50th birthday was celebrated via Zoom. It may not have been Canada that Cate expected for her big birthday but with many Zoom parties and so many gifts arriving at her door, it turned into one the best birthdays ever for her.

Face masks, hand sanitizer. border crossing restrictions which required permits and the word Cancelled crossed through months of activities listed in the diary. I couldn't even go to the supermarket as that was 'one person per family only'.

There was a bright side as creative people did creative things on line. 'My Bin Goes Our More Than I Do' photos were great fun, 'The View From My Window" gave us views from around the world, Jimmy Barnes and family started posting a song daily dedicated to the people of Melbourne especially. What joy these and many others gave us (and still do).

Eventually released from the full lock-down and a border bubble being formed along the Victoria - New South Wales border, we began to feel life was returning. Sadly we have had three more lock-down periods where travel no more than 5 kms from home was allowed. Now (June 2021) those of us in the country can travel unrestricted within our state however most attractions are still closed and the weather is cold so not of real value. The borders to NSW and Queensland open and close as the figures in Melbourne are released, as does The Ring of Steel around Melbourne.

Considering the horrific statistics from around the world Australia's figures are small. 

Australia as a whole has had 30,274 cases with 910 deaths (as at 16 Jun '21). Within that, Victoria has had 20,668 of the cases and 820 of the deaths.

The Covid jab is being rolled out in Australia but progress is slow and with twelve weeks between the first and second jab, it will continue to be a long process until enough people have been inoculated.

Still, while the government won't allow flights out of Australia for pleasure travel and Qantas still has their planes in storage in the Mojave desert, the chances of international travel still look bleak. At least another 12 months is the prediction.

At the end of February, almost twelve months from our last trip, we planned a couple of nights in Melbourne. However a week before, restrictions came in again so we opted for a night in Echuca, much closer to home and a safe area.

What a thrill to walk into a book shop, handle real books and to buy some. I felt like the trip had been worthwhile already! Sitting outside a bar having a drink and watching the world go by was pretty good too.

That evening we had our first meal in a restaurant for twelve months. How we enjoyed our meal at Sunago! Described as a lively taverna serving traditional Greek fare, we were enraptured.

Echuca is an Historic River Port Town so no visit is complete without a walk around the old port area.

Before returning home I visited a superb quilting fabric shop, the best I have ever seen. Simply called South Fabrics, if you are interested in patchwork you must visit this shop in Echuca.