Sydney Biennale


Jim Lambie’s striped floor (MCA)

Having gone to a lot of effort to visit the Venice Biennale, I thought I should make a little more to get out the door and into some of the galleries and other venues to check out the 19th Sydney Biennale – a contemporary art event that is rather well-regarded. I must say I was pretty impressed with some of what I saw, though – as is natural – not everything. I didn’t manage to get to every venue, but did check out the works at The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of NSW; and I took the ferry to Cockatoo Island, an ex-industrial site, and spend a long afternoon wandering around and being surprised.

The curator for the 19th Sydney Biennale was Juliana Engberg, and she chose the ‘theme’ “Imagine What You Desire” — loosely interpreted, naturellement. You can’t corral artists too much, especially the contemporary kind.

I’ll just touch on a few favourites of mine. As usual, I found way too much video — digital needs to be special to resonate with me, but one did: Eva Koch ‘I Am The River’ (2012). It was inspired by a Borges quote:

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river.

At the MCA I liked John Stezaker’s surprising collages, Jim Lambie’s striped floor and ‘Ten Liquid Incidents’ (2010-12) by Roni Horn. At the AGNSW, I was intrigued by ‘The Library of Unborrowed Books’ by Meriç Algün Ringborg (2012) – a sad collection of rejects from the Stockholm Public Library.

Visiting Cockatoo Island was great – the spooky dilapidated old industrial buildings, some parts going back to the convict era, strangely off-set a variety of contemporary art works. I liked a spooky sound work in an abandoned concrete space, called  “This is before we disappear” by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth. I also very much liked a stop-motion film called ‘Maison’ (2012), made in a soon-to-be demolished house, by Augustin Rebetez and Noé Cauderay (Swiss artists). I discovered it by chance in an old weatherboard house in the convict precinct, and it was so absorbing that I almost missed the last ferry back to the city.

This is just a very brief glimpse of a big Biennale, but the experience was enough to make sure I visit the next one in two years’ time.


The Battle of Hastings


Battle, UK

If, like me, you claim descent from William the Conqueror (and there’s plenty of English people who can) you’ll be interested in The Battle of Hastings, that seminal moment in 1066 when the Norman king defeated Harold of the Anglo-Saxons. Who was in the right? William or Harold? Who had a better right to the throne of England? Continue reading

La Hougue Bie


La Hougue Bie, Jersey, Channel Islands

This blog has spent quite some time getting excited over ancient ruins in Italy, but on Jersey we explored a very old site – about 6,000 years old, in fact. The site at La Hougue Bie (pronounced La Hoog Bee) has seen human activity for over 6,000 years. It’s a great mound built to cover a Neolithic passage grave. Continue reading

St. Malo


St Malo, Brittany, France

If you’re ever in Paris and would like to travel to Jersey, which is only 13 kms off the coast of France, here’s my recommendation: take a train from Montparnasse to St Malo in Brittany. The ferry to Jersey leaves from there. Apart from being MUCH more fun than a plane, this plan also has the advantage of allowing you to spend some time in the attractive walled town of St Malo. Continue reading

Art, Opera and Lunch in Paris: Enchantée


Ah, Paris in April

For lovers of art and opera (see the tagline of this blog!) Paris is an excellent place to spend a weekend. In April, I was lucky to snag a seat to La Flûte Enchantée at the OperáBastille (Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’), thanks to a kind friend and wonderful singer who was singing one of the Three Ladies that night. It was an excellent production – one of the finest ‘Flutes’ I’ve seen. Continue reading