David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

21 September 2013

'AUSTRALIA' at the Royal Academy

The exhibition 'AUSTRALIA' opens today at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

21 September 2013 - 8 December 2013
Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London
in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia 

The reviews so far are mostly disastrous. 

However, from another perspective, this return to the Old d'Art with a Royal Academy show - Robert Menzies would be tickled pink - could be seen to have brilliantly anticipated the new backward-looking isolationist head-up-own-bum posture of Operation Sovereign Borders AUSTRALIA under last weekend's newly elected Abbott coalition government. 
 .  .  .  . 
Australia at the Royal Academy : 
Ned Kelly to the rescue

Adrian Searle / The Guardian
17 September 2013
read full article here

Searle's conclusion :

"It is a great deal easier for curators to deal with a single medium like painting, and to convey a sense of its continuity and divergences, than it is to deal with the multitude of strategies artists now work with. What we end up with is a horrible sort of group show. How might art be different in Melbourne or Sydney, Perth or Cairns? How has Australian art engaged with immigration, or tackled politics and racism?

Whatever artists have to say about these issues is reduced to a few one-off gestures. I want to see something tougher and more prickly, art with more bite. I am not interested in what might constitute some sort of Australian artistic identity, because I doubt there is one. The fertility of Australian art is a product of successive, unending waves of human migration, as well as part of a global dialogue. It is hard to recognise that here, bar a few isolated examples. The show signals divergence, without actually explaining or expanding on it. What about the relationship of Australian art to film? Or doesn't film count? The exhibition just sort of gives up, representing neither the artists, nor Australian art, in a meaningful way. I thought the days of shows like this were over. They ought to be."

 .  .  .  . 
ScapeLand :
Kelly blasts the w/hole idea 
The Interior ] spatial concept (
collection : Heide MoMA
 .  .  .  . 
Australia's London art spectacular is a 'clumsy embarrassment'

John McDonald / THE AGE
19 September  2013

read full article here 

McDonald's conclusion :

"By the end of the show the tendency to include one work an artist has become an embarrassment. When I attended an early preview, one of the London critics asked: "Surely you've got better artists back in Australia?"

Not only do we have better artists, we have much better examples of work by artists who have made the cut. If the colonial part of the show is questionable, and the indigenous works seemingly chosen at random, the contemporary rooms are beyond redemption.

It is not the quantity of art or artists that counts in a successful exhibition, it is the clarity of the presentation. A display does not consist of names but of carefully chosen pieces. It is hard to believe that Australian curators could put such rooms together and feel satisfied with their efforts. It is clumsy. It is provincial. A great opportunity has been wasted."

 .  .  .  . 
Golden Slumbers :
The Harsh Australian Light 
Golden Slumbers ] The Harsh Australian Light (
Performance by Theatre of the Actors of Regard 
National Gallery of Victoria, 1985, at the exhibition
'Golden Summers: Heidelberg and beyond'
photo courtesy : The Debt Collection 
 .  .  .  . 
‘Australia’ at the Royal Academy : 
dreamtime meets the incomers

Jackie Wullschlager / Financial Times
20 September 2013
read full article here

Wullschlager's conclusion :
"Today’s globalised Australia is bigger, better, more connected, than this. Disastrously absent, for example, are acclaimed contemporary sculptors Ricky Swallow and Ron Mueck. Their exquisitely crafted still-lifes and portraits exhibit true tragic sensibility, the power of time rather than place – universal not local concerns. By excluding work of this quality and range, this show remains finally, insistently, unnecessarily provincial."
 .  .  .  . 
"Disastrously absent..." also, we suggest, is the final exhibition of Ian Burn's 'Value added' landscape(s) from his Collaborations, 1993, at Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. 

One whole room for those, surely.
click image to enlarge   

'Value added' landscape No.14
Ian Burn and Hans Selke
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something ...