Afraid we are a bit behind in posts but catching up finally.

So Canberra, the reason we made such a quick journey south was to catch the last day of the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the national gallery; . I am drawn to the romance and beauty of the Pre- Raphaelites and G thought it would make me happy to see some old favourites. Anyway the exhibition was the reason for the speedy trip south, and I did enjoy again wandering amongst the romantic fantasies of the pre-raphaelites.

The national gallery of course houses many works worth seeing not least the extensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection: and the Australian collection which includes such iconic pieces as Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings, (they were, however, currently on tour on our visit); I did enjoy seeing some pieces by Grace Cossington Smith.

Probably the most famous or infamous piece, depending on your point of point of view, in the gallery is Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, most Australian’s are familiar with the story of the work’s purchase and the record price paid for the piece, $1.3 million in 1973. Gough Whitlam was prime minister and the price meant the purchase necessitated government approval, the artwork became iconically linked to Australian political history. The painting is now valued at $350 million. I must confess a fondness for the piece, I love the ambiguity of it, but can confess no great understanding of the painting, it is a work that demands contemplation and that perhaps is where its greatness lies. A while ago I read an article suggesting Pollock’s work was the next step on from Monet’s Waterlillies, the suggestion particularly appealed as the comparison in essence spoke to the experience of the works of both artists, as deeply contemplative and ambiguous in their meaning.

Incidentally it is Blue Poles that perhaps is responsible for my daughters passionate love of art. When Bronte was about two I took her on her first visit to the national gallery, we spent some time wandering through, what at the time was a special exhibit of paintings on loan from the Queens collection, largely very conventional pieces from the renaissance through to the 19th century. Bronte was not particularly impressed, but then we went back through the gallery’s permanent collection and my precocious two year old became particularly animated by firstly the indigenous collection, which she seemed particularly drawn too, especial the Aboriginal memorial piece, which by its very nature feels very immersive. The final piece we saw, was Blue Poles, at which point Bronte started bouncing up and down in the stroller yelling; “draw, draw” She did not want to move on from the painting and spent some time staring in fascination. While living in Canberra we made the several visits to the gallery with Bronte after that initial visit and we were always required to visit what she considered her favourite painting, it became part of the gallery visit ritual.

Canberra was home to us for ten years, and it was a great place to live, work and raise a family, at least it was when were living here and I am sure it still is, but it is has grown, and much has changed. I was surprised by how alien it felt in many respects, so many new high rises and even new suburbs. We bought our first home here, in what was then a new suburb in a new township. Canberra is made up of satellite townships supporting the heart, but it does make the city seem vast and spread out. It is still the bush capital, with horse paddocks and nature reserves, breaking up the urban landscape but it is sprawling to say the least. It was in the suburb named in honour of the traditional owners that we bought our first home, Ngunnawal. Canberra, traditional country of the Ngunnawal people, and as always I just want to acknowledge traditional owners of the land on which we travel and acknowledge their continuing connection to the land and pay respect to their elders, past, present and emerging.

Just a quick comment on where we camped, which was the Epic campground, essentially the Canberra show grounds, it proved a great site with excellent facilities, the hot showers were particularly appreciated with the cold temperatures. Canberra did not fail to remind me of its characteristic cold, with a morning temperature of 0 degrees on our first morning.

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