Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MELBOURNE: Exhibitions and Shows

Melbourne always gets the best exhibitions and this trip was no exception. Four in total and all brilliant in their own way. And then there was King Kong and Oliver Mann’s album launch.

Hollywood Costume

I went along to this exhibit at the ACMI on my first afternoon and was completely blown away. I was not prepared for soooo many pieces. I descended the stairs to a large video screen playing clips of classic movies and to my right noticed Nicole Kidman’s Satine costume from Moulin Rouge atop a swing hanging from the ceiling. In place of a head was a video screen the size of an ipad with an image of her character moving ever so slightly. Each costume throughout the exhibition had the same technology and it added a whole other dimension to the experience.
After some time just taking the entrance area in, I walked to the main part of the hall and my jaw dropped at the array of items packed within the area. I slowly made my way through. Each area had a theme, eg Sci-Fi, Queen Victoria, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, Classic Directors (Hitchcock, Scorsese, Allen etc), remakes, and so on. There were costumes, artefacts, videos, memorabilia, interviews and much more.
Interspersed amongst all this were classic costumes. Scarlett O’Hara’s Green “curtain” dress, Marilyn’s white halter neck dress from The Seven Year Itch, The suits of The Blues Brothers, Dorothy’s gingham dress and ruby shoes, Audrey’s little black dress by Givency from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dude’s Dressing gown from The Big Lebowski! Spiderman was crawling up a wall, Superman flying overhead, I was blown away by the variety.
No photographs were allowed, I was trying to sneak one of The Dude when I noticed a guard coming my way, so I moved on. You just have to believe me in how spectacular and voluminous it was.
I also went into ACMI’s regular exhibit of Multi-media and a special exhibit about Shaun Tan’s Lost Thing. Both also excellent.

Australian Impressionists in France
Later the same afternoon I went to the Ian Potter Centre. This is part of the NGV but situated in Federation Square, opposite ACMI, and dedicated to Australian Art. This exhibition was lovely with a range of remarkable Australian artists painting in France during the Impressionism period, also featured some other French Impressionists.

As much as I loved this, being quite the ‘fan’ of Impressionism, I expected more. Still it was certainly worth seeing. The actual collection in the gallery is also worth seeing, so I had a lovely wander through also. There are some interesting pieces within the building, corridors etc that I managed to sneak some pics of. Also great views over the Yarra, and through to the MCG from the building itself.

Monet’s Garden

This was the main reason for travelling to Melbourne for this trip. After visiting Giverny last year in Europe, you might wonder why I would bother. For me Monet was my first introduction to art. As a young girl I saw his lovely lilac lily swirls and was totally and utterly in love...what girl wouldn’t be?
Over the years my art education has come from books and museums and is driven by beauty and aesthetics and I probably appreciate and love other artists more but will always come back to Monet.
So I can’t get enough, and despite seeing many, many pieces at The Musee D’Orsay, L’Orangerie, and Giverny itself, I knew most of the paintings in this collection came from another museum in Paris I didn’t get to visit.
When I got to the Gallery a little before opening on that cold Monday morning, I joined a small queue. The push across the foyer to the paying line after opening was astonishing, with elderly men being the most obnoxious in terms of rudeness and actual physical pushing!
The first room was really full, something I find annoying. However, I am a seasoned exhibit viewer. Most exhibits are chronological, with the first room being lesser works, and this was no exception. A quick zip round, got me through the room and past everyone; also being knowledgeable of the artist means you don’t need to read everything which can slow you down. This means you can get ahead of the crowd and enjoy the art as a leisurely pace without annoying tourists getting in your face!
There were many paintings that were familiar to me from books, but many, many I had never seen, including some less ‘impressionistic’ ones, using stronger colours and lesser imagery. I was quite drawn to them. There really is nothing like seeing something new for the first time and just sucking it all in, unable to move, and everything around you disappearing.
The second to last room had some interactive bits and pieces, taken up mostly by families, so I moved through to the last room with a lovely oval screen and a sweet little movie about Monet and Giverny with footage from the place I had visited not even a year ago. I stayed in the dark room for two viewings and got a little teary seeing a place I fell in love with so much, right there on the screen. The inspiration at Giverny is remarkable.
After that I took a quick tour of the NGV to see some of my favourite pieces, including Picasso’s Weeping Woman. I cannot visit without viewing that at the very least. NGV’s collection is remarkable, a great collection of international art, thanks mostly to the Felton Bequest.

Alfred Felton, a hero of mine, was an Englishman who came to Australia in search of gold. He was an importer and in time, a druggist for Chemists. He collected art and lived in the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda! He never married and gave away a lot of his money to charities. When he passed in 1904, he left half his money to his charities, and the other half and his collection of art to the NGV. The money was about $35 million by todays standards and continues to help grow the collection.
The Extraordinary Shapes of Geoffrey Rush
This fabulous exhibit was not as well promoted as the other three and I very nearly missed it! Best of all it is free.
It is at the Arts Centre (next to the Art Gallery) and on until 27 October so I highly recommend checking it out if you are in Melbourne.

It was full of costumes from some of his movies AND plays, Shakespeare in Love, Pirates of the Caribbean, Exit the King, The Importance of being Ernest and, my personal favourite, Quills, amongst many others. The costumes were a delight to look at, but there was also memorabilia, photos, videos and all sorts of extraordinary bits and pieces.

Hand written notes for characters, photos from his younger theatre career, the video of Cate Blanchett and him ‘doing’ Margaret and David, so much is such a varied and illustrious career.

It was a visual feast!
And then there was the piano...
With The Oscar, The Emmy, and The Tony sitting on it side by side.
I nearly died!!!!
I went away with a greater love of an actor I already worshipped, the man can pull anything off!!

King Kong: the musical
The other reason for being in Melbourne was to see King Kong: the musical! I love the 30s movie and the remakes aren’t bad either and I was curious to see what they would do with it on stage. To be honest I thought it would probably be a so bad it was good kind of thing, but how wrong I was.
It was remarkable, easily the best musical I have seen in Australia. It is at The Regent Theatre on Collins Street, a theatre I have never been to before and it is a beauty! I scored an excellent seat, being just me, upstairs, front row to the left.

There was nothing to fault, the acting was great, the staging beyond perfection and then there was Kong!
The staging was remarkable, lots of movement physically of the stage, fabulous lighting, lighting and sound effects. The early scenes depicted 20s Broadway with lots of musical stage numbers, colour, costume and toe taping tunes, as you would imagine 20s Broadway would be. The boat expedition to The Island was also great, with the stage transforming in to a boat. To be seen to be believed. Also the effects upon arriving at the island were brilliant and haunting and rather real.
The anticipation of Kong kept you wanting, which was just perfect. He was a huge puppet, steered by ninja puppeteers leaping around the stage. This sounds distracting but it was anything but, it added to the excitement.
I really don’t want to give much more away, as it really is something to be seen, and is still on in Melbourne, unsure if it will come to Sydney, the staging is specific. But if it does, do not hesitate, you must see it...or you know, pop down to Melbourne!

Oliver Mann Album Launch
I love the unexpected and Sunday turned out to be that. My friend, M, collected me for Brunch with S in Northcote, and afterwards we headed to the Northcote Social Club for Oliver Mann’s album launch.
M, a fellow Librarian, was introduced to me by our mutual friend A via Twitter, so we had not met until I arrived in Melbourne. Of course we had been chatting for ages online, but it’s always lovely to meet tweeps in real life – they never disappoint, and M was no exception there. After a quick meeting on my first afternoon there, outside the City Library no less, we arranged to meet on the Sunday.
Oliver Mann used to work at the St Kilda Library and is an amazing musician. His voice has incredible range and his style is guitar/singer, sort of folk spliced with Opera but a modern feel. His support act, another guitar/singer works at the local Northcote Library. And people think Libraries are daggy!!!
The Northcote Social was a great venue for this intimate gathering of hipsters. The range of ages was large and the vibe friendly and relaxed. We had some wine and enjoyed the sets.
Oliver was incredible, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Melbourne. I bought his album and have been enjoying it since returning. His songs not only sound divine, but the stories he tells through his music are fascinating.
Many thanks to M and S for their welcoming hospitality that day, their kindness was much appreciated.



Simon said...

What an action packed visit, sounds fantastic.

Cathy said...

Always fantastic :)

The Fresh Ingredient said...

Love the sound of all of those exhibits, you always manage to find a small new gem in Melbourne & this trip no exception

Cathy said...

Each and every one of them were wonderful yet different. Melbourne really turned it on for me this time Mary :)