October 23


Vernon Ah Kee and Mariette

Vernon Ah Kee and Mariette Dölle

This week in Canberra our lives have been filled with the joy of important visitors who happen to be infinitely genial. Firstly Mariette Dölle Artistic director of TENT in Rotterdam arrived on Monday with Danny Lacey Director of Westspace in Melbourne. Mariette is travelling courtesy of the Australia Council’s International Visitors Program and her time in Canberra has been tight to say the least. Having scarcely landed Dan Vukovljak had Aussie staples, beer and potato crisps, waiting for her in his studio at ANCA Australian National Capital Artists. After Dan showed Mariette his ambitious new work that encompasses the entire history of painting, the “girl next door” Nicci Haynes revealed prints, drawings, photography and 3D pieces based on performance in which she contorts the body into positions most of us can’t even dream of. Nicci has some unusual skills. Back at CCAS Annika Harding conducted a special tour of  Backburning, 7 years of emerging art in Canberra.

Day 2. After coffee at trendy Mocan and Greengrout , Terence Maloon, Director at the Drill Hall Gallery showed Mariette around a magnificent exhibition Roy Jackson: Retrospective 1963-2013. A longish ‘ladies lunch’ followed with Deborah Clarke Curator of Visual Art at Canberra Museum and Gallery plus Terence, Danny and David Broker of CCAS. The afternoon was spent at the Australian War Memorial with Ryan Johnston Head of Art who uncovered some of the gems in the AWM’s collection.

Day 3. Following breakfast with Raquel Ormella at the ANU Art School there was a visit to Megalo Print Workshop where the lovely John Hart gave a thorough tour of the Megalo’s fabulous new facilities. Next up more coffee with Brisbane’s feisty proppaNOW who are in Canberra for Insurgence, a ripper show at the Museum of Australian Democracy curated by Jenny McFarlane and comprising a goodly number of  proppaNOW classics. Brilliantly, it looks down on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and it would be a first for a provocative exhibition like this to take front row in an Australian Parliamentary Building. Vernon’s austracism piece looms large in the front windows of old Parliament House. Stick it up em guys ! At the Insurgence Symposium Richard Bell’s new film The Dinner Party was shown and followed with some insightful discussion and pertinent questions. Chaired by Margo Neale (Senior Research Fellow, Senior Curator and Principal Indigenous Advisor to the Director at the National Museum of Australia), Lyndy Delain joined Richard Bell, Jennifer Heard, Vernon Ah Kee and Gordon Hookey for a lively discussion with a generous smattering  of distinctive proppaNOW humour. Always entertaining if a little confronting. Where could you go after that but the National Gallery of Australia to visit James Tyrell’s Skyspace and  the collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. Down to the wire:  there was just enough time to take in Sydney Nolan’s essential Ned Kelly series and Present history: a selection of photographs of New Zealand 1960s to the present, including Greg Semu’s Auto portrait with 12 disciples (from ‘The Last Cannibal Supper . . . cause tomorrow we become Christians’ series), Lisa Reihana’s Digital Marae and portraits by Hans Neleman.

Phew …. who said there was nothing to do in Canberra ….. yes, who did say that?

Mariette, John Hart and Danny

Mariette, John Hart and Danny at Megalo Print Workshop

Jennifer Herd, Vernon Ah Kee and Richard Bell

Jennifer Herd, Vernon Ah Kee and Richard Bell


Gordon Hookey and Mick Huddleston

Marritte, Danny, Merry, Jen, Vernon and Richard's red hat

Marritte, Danny, Merryn, Jen, Vernon and Richard’s famous red hat

Danny, Mariette and the iconic Sine Dome (Martian Embassy)

Danny, Mariette and the iconic Shine Dome (Martian Embassy)