Thursday 30 July 2015


a Mona Visit, a Must

I went to visit Mona, I now believe in GOD.

After running the gauntlet of ‘stuff you don’t need’ at the airport. After being shot at high speed through clouds into a soft blue space. After landing with a slight rumble onto the tarmac at Hobart, we were ready for Mona.

Where does one begin with this amazing and magical place. I suppose at the start would be good. A ferry ride up the Derwent river to the Mona landing followed by 99 steps took us to the entrance. A wonderful way to arrive. However, before we entered the Museum of Old and New Art there was much to see outside. Set in a frame of heavy slabs of rusted steel, a border with the outside world, we wandered and wondered from one art piece to another.

A larger then life cement truck created from waste sheets of rusted steel welcomed us into the land of magic and wonder. Wandering on we found ‘Chapel’, a building created from similar rusted steel by the same artist. ‘Exquisite’ comes to mind. Next, a huge slab of aluminium, suspended in the sky, has a square hole cut in it. I sit below it and view a framed aspect of the sky. This simple but strong and beautiful work seems based on the concept of the Zen view.

Time to enter the museum. Two doors of black glass, situated in a wall of mirrored metal, slide silently open into the entrance and the world of magic. The magic of art, the magic of architecture, plus the magic of both brilliance and madness combined. One takes a circular lift into a subterranean world and lands into a space, I imagine, not unlike that of Alice in wonderland. The first artwork to be experienced, besides the astonishing architecture, which, by the way, reminded me of being in an Egyptian pyramid, was a work where water dropped from a horizontal pipe and in that dropping created words. One word after the other dropping from above. Random words. Readable rain. A mesmerising work. 

Between this work and the last, which was a full size Porsch, manufactured in fire-engine red plastic, (Imagine this car blown up and becoming very fat,) were many truly fantastic works to be enjoyed, to marvel at and be surprised by. Works such as an eerie room, like a tomb. You walk on stepping stones, set in black water, towards a platform with two coffins, one with a mummy and one with video of the same mummy, which slowly reveals the inside of the mummy. So, in time, a skeleton is revealed. A powerful piece. In another space, on a black wall is a line of 77 3d white porcelain prints of vaginas. Each one different. Then there are numerous multimedia works and video installations. Plus throughout, special pieces of ancient art. One wonders where David Walsh, the creator of Mona, got these treasures.  

There was a clue when after a day spend in the museum, I once more wondered around outside and found his reserved car park. It stated in big bold letters ‘reserved’ ‘GOD’, with a slick car in front of it. GOD was home. Next to this was an equally shiny Mercedes with the words ‘reserved’ ‘GOD’s mistress’ on the wall.

That is why now, after visiting one of the most amazing museums I have ever experienced, I believe in GOD. Go and visit Mona. You haven’t lived until you do. You may even get a glimpse of GOD if he isn’t gambling somewhere, that is, to make more money to finance his wonderful museum.

                                          At the cosmic filling station ask for a "full Tank"


June 2015

Monday 27 July 2015


maeve staite with her sustainable house model

The pleasures of learning

One of those wet watery windy winter days when the cold cuts right through your clothing no matter how warm you are dressed. I was walking up the bleakness of Vincent Street on my way to the Daylesford primary school to attend the sustainable housing expo, a project by the younger students of the school.

Entering the school I immediately became aware of ‘the warmth of welcome’.

This was carried right throughout my visit by the friendliness of both students and staff.

For this project the students of three classes had each made a model of a house with special attention to the possible sustainable qualities. Qualities which they had learned about as part of this term’s project.

There where as many different approaches to this brief as there were students. The variety of the work was enjoyable, impressive, inspiring and creatively exciting. I was once again reminded that whenever I see creative work by our young people I, as a member of the older generation, feel pretty hopeful that the future is in good hands, as I did once again when I viewed this particular expo.

I loved the creative answers the kids had come up with. The way things were interpreted. In some of the designs it was clearly evident that dad or mum had partaken in the task at hand, which I thought was another wonderful aspect of this project. Working together with your mum or dad. Working together with your son or daughter. Excellent outcome. In my mind’s eye I saw the family gathered around the table during a winter’s evening, knotting out the problems and finding answers. What stood out in all of this creation of architecture was the creative use of ordinary stuff. Stuff, that lies around the house, to interpret the various objects depicted as part of their buildings. For instance the use of a set of CDs as solar panels, or a drinking straw as a rainwater pipe. Simple. Effective.

This worthwhile project seems the natural continuation of the school’s kitchen garden project. Another project where kids are learning about care, wastage plus the growing, preparation and presentation of food. The thoughts entered my mind that in relation to my experience of primary school there was no comparison. Learning today seems such fun.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are those benefits of this project that you cannot see but that are just as important, if not more so. The fact that the kids who had taken part in this project will, from now on, have a new awareness about housing. When out and about, they will notice the things they have learned about in the environment around them and take notice. Thus they will keep on learning. The subtlest result of this project

With a project such as this, many aspects of learning are touched upon. Art, design, mathematics. model-making etc.

It is commonly understood that most students who take art as a subject at school will not become artists. However, those who attend art classes will have their lives greatly enriched by the way they have learned to look and see. This goes for all the other subjects as well. Learning about these things creates a greater awareness and thus a richer life experience.

Here I realised we were also presented with another very important lesson. That learning does not only happen in one’s head. Learning also happens from engaging the world with one’s hands, through one’s hands. Learning does not only come about from sitting at a desk. This rather narrow approach of desk learning does, for many students, at times more harm then good.

Looking at the result of this project and the absolute enthusiasm with which the students answered my questions and explained their work, it was obvious that this approach of making is successful and all involved should be commended for the creation of joy and pleasure in the learning process.

Petrus July 2015