Monday, 24 March 2008

Art and architecture in Canberra

We did a bit of wandering around in Canberra over the weekend, and it rammed home just how different Canberra is to the rest of Australia. It really is the odd ball city - in the nicest possible way.

Take public art for instance. It seems that there must be a law somewhere that says that every office building must have a hideous piece of sculpture out the front. I didn't take note of what the people in this office block do all day, but it might be full of arseholes, because there's a sculpture of a colon out the front.

This wheat silo shaped building, funnily enough, belongs to Trade. Have a look at the silver knobbly bits that punctuate the walls along each floor like thumbtacks - they're sure to get this monstrosity heritage listed.

This pile of junk sits outside Tourism House. If you thought our tax money was wasted on running useless ads overseas, it's nothing in comparison to the money wasted on "contemporary art", which is little more than the contents of your average farm rubbish tip welded together and spray painted.

This is more to my taste - this hangs in the entrance to the Art Gallery (we went to see the Turner to Monet show). This is a great painting - most people think it's a photo that's been blown up. As I went around the gallery, every few minutes I'd hear an alarm go off, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the alarm was for. It turns out that it is a proximity sensor in front of this painting - people are so taken by it, they lean over to touch it, and then the alarm goes off. I sat at this spot and watched a number of people as they tried to poke the art. Personally, I'd attach a taser to it. That's fuck 'em.

Chooks in windows. Manuka.

Another Manuka chook.

This sort of building fascinates me, mainly because it is so unsuited to our climate. You wouldn't think of moving to Switzerland and building a Federation style house with a low pitched roof - the snowy climate would ensure that your roof collapsed in the first week of winter. Buildings should reflect the local climate.

If that's the case, why are we so happy to import Euro-fads that might make sense in Berlin or Venice or Bath, but make no sense whatsoever out here? We need some sort of censorship bureau that bans the import of books on European architecture. I like European architecture - I even like Bauhaus and all that. But I like it in Germany, not Australia.

This photo didn't come out that well, but check out the bird in the window. Nice touch.

Another version of a building that I don't mind, but which is about as appropriate in Australia as a mink coat in Cairns.

We popped into the old Parliament House, and one thing to note is that the heritage people have buggered it up. The place was built in the 1930's - back before anyone had air conditioning, so all the doors and windows were designed to open. They all had fly screens on them, since Canberra is built on three sheep stations, and the place had a lot of flies in summer.

Get this. The heritage mob have removed all the fly screens and for all I know, installed air conditioning.

Will this spark a war between those interested in heritage and those promoting global warming? After all, they've taken a building that was designed around good environmental principles (air flow and all that) and turned it into something that requires a poultice of power to keep it cool in summer.

Typical heritage fuck-up. Just goes to show that if you see someone from a heritage group sniffing around an old building, you are probably looking at someone that has no idea what they are doing.

The other disaster that the heritage mob have inflicted on the old House is that they have scattered furniture seemingly at random throughout the place. When the place was built, a stack of furniture was commissioned, and it was all very specific to a function and a place. A certain type of table was put into a certain type of room.

The modern heritage mob of course have no idea, so they have put furniture in places where it is completely inappropriate. It would be the equivalent of a Martian putting a toilet seat in the lounge room, thinking that just because people sat on it, they had put it in the right place.

1 comment:

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