Miss April Advises: #1 Fan, Christmas Present .

Dear Miss April,

few months back i got a new friend. one of my clients at work. A smart engineer, in his fourties. He gives you a serious first impression but as you get to know him, you soon realise he is a fun, social seeetheart. He’s preety cool and i am crazy about his friend !

so recently we met after holidays and he gives me a gift, “just a christmas gift” (he describes) actually a misunderstanding because my colleague/best friend at work got him a present and he thought it was me when i cleared things… was too late, he had given me the gift already… A beautiful enormous red heart, some sort of pillow he bought back home and nicely packed.

heartwarming, i hardly get gifts 😦

Now afcourse i have to give something in return… no surprise here, i dont know what to give.

thinking i have this really cool electronic cigar with nice flavours to go along.(no tobacco)

and i went to ask him. our convo…

Do you smoke? he replied no.
me: Because you can’t or you dont want to? He says: just never been curious, i smoke yes but not tobacco,why?He asks. I said: Because i have something really nice i want you to try. That def made him curious. he kept asking about it all day long 😀 but i never gave him in time because he travelled.

He is coming back soon and now i have to choose, i either give him the electronic cigar or a pen (that might be expensive)

my friends say an electronic cigar is not an appropriate gift for a non smoker but i keep on insisting with this because it will save me less i dont have to buy it 🙂 and I dont think the electronic cigar will hook him up but i also dont want to look like someone who offers things that can be addictive. electronic cigar is safe for me atleast. Oh and I also want to make an awesome impression in his friend with the gift.

Ok my dear miss salvation, help me decide please ? whats your opinion with the electronic cigar ? if its a no then any other ideas …

regards,

your #1 fan xoxo

images

Dear Dearest of Dears,

I do declare, I am beginning to know you. Yet, I do not know thine age. What year are you in, my dear? I hear many readers now cry out – what oft this? How does age matter? Well, I’m of the belief that usually the people who claim “age is no matter” are much older men justifying undeclared dalliances. I bring this up because your attention falls upon a man in his forties. Of such a mature age, is he not married? Committed? I say to you, if he is, why on earth is he handing out heart shaped pillows? (I mean apart from learning seduction techniques from the Sweet Valley High series with a babysitter fetish).

If he is not betrothed, in his forties and a sophisticated, connected man of the world, how on earth does he think such a gift would win someone over?

Enough of your coquettishness. Do not prevaricate around the bush. If you are desirous of presenting a gift of an electronic cigar (what on earth is this?) or a pen, why not go all out and just get a penis shaped bottle opener? Does phallic symbolism mean nothing anymore? Forgive me for my maternal extinct, but my suggestion is gift him with a fire extinguisher and expunge this ill-fated dalliance before it has time to engulf everyone around it.

You are bored. You need to get a better hobby then dull old men. With best wishes for your happiness,
Yours,
Miss April

PS. True friends don’t fuck around with ridiculous gifts.

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Miss April Advises: Wendy Ngo, Public Art Confusion.

Dear Miss April,

I almost crashed the Cayenne the other day. I was careening down Victoria Parade with the kids Ipading in the back and nilly had a conniption.

Theres a huge pile of Lavender steel holding up a gold George Jensen neck brace, two cartoon gunners in Lavender and a flock of olympic or gay coloured ufos. Really I dont care just choose youre side ladies, Putin/ Hair you choose. I found out later they were coolie hats. I had Jacinta google it on her Iphone5. The city of Yarra web site is very proud of these shallow cultural strereotypes. I pride my self on only being shallow for myself. I find it horrid in others.

OMG, its OMG awful. You seem to be able to explain public art. You cleared up the swarofski thing at the cultural centre. I was excited by the bling power but you are right it was a bit not shiny enough for any of us. Can you tell me that this thing is? Its like a vomit meets a car crash meets a thai restaurant interior. Can you tell me why its there? Can you tell me why it cost $3million [ jacnitas iphone, I was driving] and the electric cables are still showing. I have nice looking electrician if they need one.

Oh and whats with the tigers, this things not even in richmond, well one is, but really?

Hope you can help, i hate googling , it hurts the nails.

Your bestie

Wanda Gno.
East Melbourne

Hoddle Street Gateway by Avant Garde artist collaborative group "the community, the local business association, & the 3 tiers of government ". Think Girls on Speed combined with Pussy Riot, with fervent Richmond football club supporters and committed literal interpretation devotees.

Hoddle Street Gateway by Avant Garde artist collaborative group “the community, the local business association, & the 3 tiers of government “. Think Girls on Speed combined with Pussy Riot, with fervent Richmond football club supporters and committed literal interpretation devotees.

Dear Wendy Ngo

How delightful you (and your little brood) sound. I am so very honoured to be the recipient of your lyrical prose worthy to be presented as a gift to the gods, most assuredly. I have sashayed down Victoria Street many a time during the past annus mirabilis under my parasol, waving to the opium traders, stepping over the tracksuit wearers, admiring the beards imbibing in the open-windowed bars, and satisfying my delicate lady appetite with fragrant banquets of 6-8 mouth-watering dishes. I must admit I have been so confounded by the Leviathan and its many hats and accompaniments that they don’t seem to register in my long-term memory. Accordingly, I am as equally perplexed with every venture to the precinct of which I am so fond. Your correspondence therefore has provided me an opportunity of reflection and repose. I must know myself as I relate to the discombobulation that is known to be The Victoria Street Gateway Project.

My first revelation Mrs Ngo is that you are quite mistaken to view it as public art, as much as one assumes that giant sculptural and pictorial representations placed on public land is often assumed to be such. I also made a similar misassumption , and was at first keenly eager to discover who was behind this Avant Garde artist collaborative calling themselves ‘The Three Tiers of Government’ who had worked so closely with the other band of creative bohemians the ‘Richmond Asian Business Association’ and ‘Community’. Oh, my heart was all a flutter at the thought of discovering the identities of these foreword thinkers, cultural philosophers, and creative chieftans. Alas, I was shocked to discover that they were quite literally their namesakes and no professional artists were involved in this process at all. Ah, now that makes a tad more sense. Now that we gaze upon the Gateway with this tidbit, of course, NO ARTIST INVOLVEMENT AT ALL, and…the penny drops.

For what need do we have for the mind of the artiste when we have a successful architectural firm capable of designing award-winning buildings? The true creative here my demure Wendy is in fact Gregory Burgess Architects, who has proven themselves to be extraordinarily talented designers of celebrated buildings. Herein lies the quandary – their most literal approach, which must have served them well for architecture, does not perform well in translating culture into inspiring art. In fact, nowhere does The Victoria Street Gateway Project ever refer to itself as public art. So it appears it is suffering from a terrible crisis of identity. It is a construction, a gaumless literal creature.

You see, the gateway represents a boat (well, you know Vietnamese refugees, boat people arrivals, you know..). Then of course, we have traditional Vietnamese hats represented by, well.. big hats…suspended above. We are also presented with a light box panel of green bars (bamboo) with two “welcoming” tigers. Now this is a departure, as there are very few to no tigers left in Vietnam, so what is the deeper meaning here? Conservation? Species extinction? Oh, wait, football – oh how I laugh, so quaint. Thank goodness it only cost 2 million. Discretely I wonder on the ‘inclusive’ properties of declaring one’s sports tribe on a broad community gateway, but who am I to question such things, as the representative of the Richmond Asian Business Association declares: “Everyone has to support Richmond. If you support Collingwood that’s a different story. People boo us.” Ahh, welcome brothers and sisters, see how we represent you so. Halt Wendy, do not complain, for God help us they will probably stick a Magpie up there as recompense and that would just be too much to bear.

Then we also have aluminium panels fixed to the railway abutment walls, get this, you’ll never see this coming – another boat ! Plus, a traditional Vietnamese drum. Golly, I haven’t seen such dedication to literalism since Marcel Marceau. I am only surprised they restrained themselves from buying massive amounts of take-away rice paper rolls and just nailing them directly to the wall. Or perhaps suspended neon spring rolls could be a later addition, and let’s go crazy by putting up some sticks to represent chopsticks.

Do not misunderstand me, I celebrate the oeuvre of literal interpretation, some of my best friends are Westboro Baptists, and of course, I am a fervent practitioner of Literal Interpretative Dance, a most powerfully creative physical expression of the musical lyric.

Sunshine = widespread fingers, both hands move outward from a centre point.
Rain = wiggle fingers while moving hands from a raised position to a lower position in front of body.
Happy = beaming smile with open hands framing the chin, keep fingers wide.

Do not avow my dry descriptions here best exemplified by interpretive dance extraordinaire Johann Lippowitz.

But I digress.

The Victoria Street Gateway Project is a noble goal conducted with honourable intention (I assume). It is most definitely public, but sadly does not reach it’s potential as art. Do not lament though Mrs Ngo, we must all learn that potential is often nary fulfilled, and tragically beautiful opportunities can be lost forever such as a drop falls into the tranquil stream of lament. However, the three tiers and business posse are sure to be happy, and the gapeseeds will no doubt reinforce their predetermined vision. There is naught to be done. Acceptance can be a powerful mindset.

Do take care of those darling children,
Yours,
Miss April

rice-paper-rolls-large

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Miss April Advises: Warning, not suitable for unsuitable readers: Hans A. Whey

Dear Miss April,

I have three things to say that are remotely connected but establish a pattern of inconsistency in the area of governence and moral governence on our behalf. Could you examine these articles and hopefully console me for I think that in the light of these observations my radical liberalism ( moral optimism) has been subsumed by hysterical liberal [voters]?

See three things below.

1.Artist works seized for illustrataing a sexualized Justin Beiber [ surely the beib’s publicist should have been the perp for premeditation BTW this content was shown under Mr Doyles watch with no mention of dripping cocks on Bourke street in the papers]
2.Blonde St Kilda footballer with respectable penis blackmailed by unnamed teenager[surely if your blackmailing you should be named no matter what your age or if not, your parents might need to explain how your child got to be there to take those pictures]
3.Bill Henson celebrates youth through beauty but is vilified [no one notices the beauty part except liberal Turnbull who owns one]

Liberal salutations.

Hans A. Whey

Dear Hans A. Whey

I’ve been quite oblivious to the current furore as I have other urgent matters at hand such as catching up with my cross-stitching and waiting furiously for the cinematic release of Behind the Candelabra.

However, after perusing recent newspaper articles at the local library I thought, golly, the powers that be really want to stoically protect our fragile minds from the corrupting scourge of collage. I then noted the key words – penis, child, degenerate, Justin Bieber, paedophilia –tax-payer funding – gasp! Dirty, dirty, words.

I am confident you are referring to the artwork of a young Mr Paul Yore. Unless I am mistaken and there is another hysterical bout of hypocritical self-serving Machiavellian manipulation Civic Duty afoot. He has been quite the hot ticket of late, in the city, along the hip-strip, amongst the leafy establishment, and now then down in the former-seedy-area-now-well-and-truly-gentrified St Kilda. Gosh, simply everywhere, so imagine my surprise that we all come so lately to the conclusion it is no longer suitable for the sensitive eyes of gallery hopping siblings and sensitive Councilors.

Look, to be perfectly honest with you Hans, I’m a bit of an old prude myself. I do not take kindly to nudity. I especially find male genitalia most distasteful when displayed both in flaccid and extreme performance mode even if it is plastic; combine this with the images of Justin Bieber children and you have just described to me the very things that I despise about the selfish putridity of adult humans. In my humble opinion, the only male grotesquery wont to be seen in the fine visual arts is the sacred penis of Baby Jesus, front and centre, so close to the picture plane it almost pokes one’s eye out whilst gazing in trembling holy rapture.

Correggio, Madonna of the Basket, c 1524, held in the National Gallery of London.

Correggio, Madonna of the Basket, c 1524, held in the National Gallery of London.

Needless to say, I was ready with softened nib pencil to underline the compelling arguments against Mr Yore’s work, justifying the necessity to ensure that I had no opportunity whatsoever to assess for myself the level to which I objected to the work. I was not disappointed. The complainant articulates: “The Pope is f—d, Everything is f—-d, the police are f—-d, Pigs with guns…The police would have loved that one…And when you go into the grotto, it looked like teenage boys with erections, with stickers over them…Degenerate…It’s not the right time to do any of that stuff at the moment anyway, you know what I mean with all the stuff with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Touché.

However, that being said so eloquently, I am but one among many and I have enough experience to realise that everyone has a right to tell their story, and to suffocate those who try to do so is a most heinous moral crime.

So what of it Mr Yore, are you trying to outdo the Pope with your sequined dresses and garish aesthetics? Is that it? You, a formidable man of a long 25 years, who looks around you to see the magnificent institution ruled by the Holy Seed See so vulnerable now that you choose to kick it while it’s down? What with all of the terrible truth coming out and such, and those thousands of victims who survived the stuff of nightmares persecute the sacred institution? Or perhaps you see those victims who did not survive.

All I can find from Mr Yore: “We live in a time that is very important for artists and musicians and writers to express themselves and a lot of people are confused about society and see the world as a dark place”. Ha! Well thoughts like that will get you arrested in these times sir, so is it worth it? Well, actually I suspect probably now more than ever. But I hear the City of Port Philip could just save themselves around $100,000 a year, and as long as it makes good economic sense it’s a win-win, right?

Children and artists, they make from what they see. Point in hand I move on to your second article, St Kilda Teen. You say she blackmailed someone? I do not recall, I was under the distinct impression the young lass was rather generously democratic with her photography. She too shared with us the visual outpouring of the world around her, it just happened to be a vast array of footballer penii*.

Should her name have been published? I thought St Kilda Teen was her name. Are her parents responsible? Well, responsible enough to send her to school. The visiting footballers successfully seemed to take over at that point.

Or did they? A most unusual event occurred, the girl did not go away. How utterly incredulous and confusing this is for young gods such as these – desire begets undesirable consequences?? How were they to foresee that this 17-year old girl would expect they admired her and wanted to be with her just because they graced her with their penetrative presence? They, along with other naked penises needed protection, stat; and that’s where multi-million dollar businesses can truly be rather helpful.

And so it came to be. The child was a child no more, she had transformed into the Femme Fatale. Vulnerable, abused, at risk? No, monsieur, no, you have it all askew. She is a liar, a temptress, a young lady that uses her sexuality to corrupt the heroes – and, how you say, does not shut up when men tell her to. This is the perfect French film script, non?

Quelle Horreur ! The underage Femme Fatale is, in popular media, somewhat akin to the most frightening of all underage seductresses, the man-hating, satan-worshipping, teenage lesbian murderess – terrifying to powerful heterosexual men, however completely fictional to all other social groups.

So in real life when a child has quite literally been debased what do powerful people do? Why, the send in an experienced, respected, compassionate family man. Unfortunately, it was reported he might have been accompanied by a bottle of wine, illicit substances, and alas, his penis. Heroes fall quickly when we see the world through the eyes of another. And the child eventually disappears.

Mr Bill Henson is a master of beauty, a Renaissance spirit, a painter’s photographer. There is no denying the true art of his magnificent works – you know, there’s no icky bits, nor ugly truths. Chiaroscuro. Allow me to repeat, Chiii-rrrra-scurr-o. You can’t argue with that.

And let us be quite frank with each other, once there is the sound argument of ‘but he’s famous internationally; he’s in all the national collections; it’s beautiful; important; investment’ – why, debate closed! Alas, herein lies our most despicable of lost opportunities. Debate never happened; not even a delicate vapour of conversation. What we got was:

Degenerate
Ignoramus
Paedophile
Wowser
You are
Am not

Not quite what one hopes for to invigorate important public discourse and insight. It does make one wonder the role of art in the first place, yes? But Sir, it would be grotesquely remiss of me to neglect to state indefatigably and publicly: therein lies in Mr Henson’s work a potent sexuality that one would need to have their eyes poked out with hot skewers to be unable to recognise. I would like to clarify, as I am merely a lay-person more interested in sneering at neighbours through my curtained windows , I do not believe they are in the slightest way pornographic. However, I find it incredulous that anyone could look at these images and not recognise their own selves at a time in the world where adults did not exist, where emotions ran deep and strong… and unfathomable.

Dearie-me, perhaps that is why the viewer can be so drawn in, but so uncomfortable. It is a world that we are perhaps not meant to observe, a burgeoning sexuality that needs to be protected from adults, from our gaze and interpretations. So much more difficult to do with photography – n’est pas? – we feel our presence, the subject’s, the photographer’s, it becomes so literal that we almost place ourselves in the role of intruder, destroyer, adult. What a lively conversation that would have made.

It is a rather interesting albeit shameful parody that we are at a point so vigilant to protect our children that we must whitewash, victimise, shame, objectify, and arrest them to do so. Alas, there is an ill wind my dear; a very ill wind indeed, and I suspect we won’t amble too much further along this path before we all turn to one another in a moment of horrific clarity and agree with Mr Yore. Everything is fucked.

Yours most sincerely, Miss April

* Penii – noun, plural. Anatomy, Zoology . the male organ of copulation and, in mammals, of urinary excretion. Miss April’s preferred pluralising of the singular form as the term penises can sometimes be a mouthful, although it can at times have a pleasing rhythm when strategically placed.

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Miss April Advises: Taken for Granted – Artists are peeved!

Dear Miss April,

I’ve been reading your column. It seems you are quite knowledgable when it comes to the arts and aesthetic issues.
We all hear that the arts industry is unregulated. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. We know that in opposition the goverment is leaden ,bureaucratic and unresponsive. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. What happens when these areas overlap, say with the Australian Council?

We have all seen the self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics at work, but happens when you get the arts industries heightened pitch overlaid on this gravelly platform provided by the goverment? Well, sometimes its self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics. It doesnt make for a sure footing.

The grant system seems to help in a direct individual way and the artists/ creaters/ creatives sometimes get some money too, but this cash injection is the most impotent of the boards traits. Perhaps if there were broader impacts than turning up at private openings and previews at the opera house for the bereaucrats. What about lobbying for a better tax position for artists? Imprisonment for lazy curators? Ensuring the funding goes to the artist not their dealers who write the applications? Why hell, even making their web site user friendly? Beneficial longterm outcomes!!

Do you think its time they put down the Chardonnay in Sydney and had a good look at what theyre offering the arts community and the tax paying public?

Best

Taken for Granted

Dear Taken for Granted

Stop, please, don’t! You’re making me blush! It is true that art woes seem to have predominated this advice column, but I believe that may be less about my own knowledge and more about the mindset of our local community. Lucky to have such woes!

Oh, wouldn’t it be a blessed thing to have arts funding policy decided by an Agony Aunt column, the power is making me swoon! It is interesting to note though, that yours is not the only frustrated voice (like him, him , him & her) regarding our nation’s major arts grant body. Why, I do believe our federal fund is currently under review‘transparency please!’ – is the cry upon the winds. I ask you though, what is it that you really want from Miss April? Much of what you say are statements, opinions, questions which demand a nodding and smiling agreement.

I’ll tell you this. Clogging up our prison system with yellow-bellied curators would probably exhaust our arts funding, not relieve it! We’ll have another grant category just to cover it – legal defence funds for dull curators. It is sad that we have a national tradition of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’ when it comes to acquisitions, grants, curatorial inclusions, publicity, etc, etc. All a rather big yawn isn’t it?

I agree, a user-friendly website would be helpful. I mean have you seen this clip? I agree, the system has led to accusations of nepotism! I agree, seeing the same commercial gallery being awarded tens of thousands of dollars year-in and year-out, despite them being the most successful and fiscally liquid business in the industry is rather eyebrow raising. I agree with many of your points. And that is all I can do for you here. Or is it?

Dear Ms/Mr Granted, may I call you Taken? I infer from your moniker you see yourself as a victim of said system? An artist yourself perhaps, a musician, actor, dancer, painter, writer? The frustration at the inequity of the system feels worse because you see yourself at the short end of the stick? Then I would like to impart some advice to you before I sign off here today. Put it behind you. If you spend your energy rallying against the system, not only will you go mad, you will be spending precious time and energy away from your craft. I can imagine it is frustrating that grants are awarded to others under perceived dubious methods, but fear not, because the artist does have the last laugh. Do you know the secret of becoming an artist, truly? The secret is: just do it. Don’t wait for grants, don’t waste your time thinking about policies, don’t waste your time stewing on the system, concentrate on your work.

Not to say that you should not submit your grant requests, continue to do so if you so wish. You’ve got to be in it to win it! Here is a case study where an artist is talking about their approach to writing grant applications. There is some good advice there. However, it also emphasises the need for the artist to be adroit at influential writing skills, not a skill all have, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage. So my advice for you here would be to draw upon your friends and family, if you know someone who can help you prepare – ask them. The video also inadvertently points out a bittersweet element of the grants system – multiple successes for the same artists & organisations, means no success for others. If you want to get involved, why don’t you register as a Peer? If you want to critique or suggest improvements – write, email, call them. Contact the board members. Also, you could contact the Department directly in Canberra. Make yourself KNOWN.

To be honest with you Taken, there could be vast improvements, they could inject some fresh blood and new ideas, and transparent assessment processes; and perhaps I could spend my years pondering such matters, perhaps you could too. But I would rather get back to my typewriter, and you should get back to work. 

Thank you most sincerely for entrusting me with your worries,
Yours, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Knee Deep – kid’s parties get complicated

Dear Miss April,

I have been placed in charge of an extremely unfamiliar task. A children’s birthday party, under 10’s to be exact.
My memories are of sugary phantasms, sprinklers on lawns and throwing up in the car. I’m sure times have changed, what with child obesity and peanut, wheat and lactose intolerance in the under 10 set filling the newspaper.

I’m not sure how sparking mineral water, imaginary tea, crudites and felafel’s will go down with the pink outfitted ruffians I will be hosting.

Any catering tips would be appreciated?

Soon to be

Knee Deep

Dear Knee Deep

Good old blogs and Facebook pages now hold host to plenty of information about such topics. There is a Thermomix page (for those dedicated to the hot right then 1960s Italian kitchen technology now popular in Australia) where eager food obsessed mothers recently swapped some children’s party food ideas such as: fruit kebabs, rainbow cupcakes, cake pops (very ill-advised IMHO), or even the chocolate beetroot cakes and magic bean chocolate cakes (made with red kidney beans) for those who take delight into tricking children into eating a healthy ingredient cooked to death.

One time-blessed mother listed her complete menu: vegetarian sausage rolls, cinnamon scrolls, apricot and coconut balls, fruit platter with yoghurt dip, popcorn, mini-quiches & pikelets.

Another suggestion was homemade hummus served in individual plastic shot glasses, each fitted with a carrot and a celery stick. Healthy yes, but then you risk the ire of those who condemn such perverse overuse of plastic. A tricky balancing act at party time.

All of these are wonderful suggestions, but really most kids go straight to the cheezels that one’s husband/brother/uncle decided to serve up and ignore all healthy options. All of a sudden there are party pies, fairy bread, and bowls and bowls of lollies that seem to come from nowhere. Well-intentioned mother has wasted her time, and no-one seems to empathise because by golly its a party and time to kick back. One soon finds out, that behind the facade of conversations eye-ball deep in healthy matters, most parents are sick to death of thinking of gourmet options subconsciously suspected as pretentious brainwashing and fantasise about halcyon days of sugar highs, and food full of hyper-real colour.

This pickle of a situation recalls a story I once heard. A story of upright, disciplined citizens with only the best in mind for their child. No additives, no sugar, no fat; only a fully controlled diet for their little boy. But they understood that other parents were not so strict so chose to have their little one’s party at McDonalds, with a large food-colouring fantasy of a cake. Isn’t that nice of them? Their son, of course, could only watch on, nibbling at his rye wrap while his best friends devoured their starch and fat, and delighted in his birthday cake from which he did not taste a crumb. Model parents. A quiet boy.

But I would be remiss to treat lightly the seriousness of food allergies and child obesity. I can solve the latter by simply stating, a child’s birthday party is no place for you to worry about the Western world’s obesity problem. Leave that responsibility where it rightfully lies, with the parents, broader community’s attitudes to fast foods and capitalism. If you do have a guest with food allergies I am certain you would be duly informed, and it is then your responsibility to supply  suitable options for their needs. That’s where the magic bean cake comes in handy.

So take a page out of the child’s manual to parties, put on your tutu and join in the fun.

Bon appetit!
Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Underdazzled

Dear Miss April,

I have attended a performance by Rufus Wainwright at the revised Hamer hall. The performance was dire, underwhelming, phoned in; but that’s not what I’m writing to you about. I had a pre dinner drink and went down to the underworld of the theater to take my allocated seat. I endured the show and with the lumpen throngs exited conventionally up a sets of escalators planned like jack knifed semi trailers tumbling through a cement boot. Arriving at the top and facing away from the exit then redirected by doorstop docents, I trudged with the masses to the exit, like so many heifers at the RNA show toward the front door. An object caught my gaze on exit.At first I thought it the new chandelier as is expected of great concert halls. But it emitted no light, merely reflections from a series of carbuncles growing from tubular space frames. My stunned look elicited a comment from a passer-whizzing-by. “Its art” they blurted. It was in fact forgettable but what I do remember was that it was like an enlarge reproduction of an accessory from my little unicorn that had been vajazzled or some new organic surveillance system.
If you’re passing pop in and tell me what you think it might be.
Even under the heady influence of a dragging performance and now appropriate numbers of pre show drinks , I’m still unsure what I saw.

Please advise.

Underdazzled

Dear Underdazzled

You appear to be undertaking the role of Aesthetics Arbiter with noble dedication. Do be careful to not exhaust yourself!

I visited the venue with the mind to formulate arguments in support of artistic interpretation and to dispel your disquieting disdain. As I gazed upon the suspended artwork I found myself painted into a wee bit of a corner, and felt rather amused at my pickle of a situation.

Firstly, let me say if you know of anyone who vajazzles unicorns please slip a note to their therapist. Secondly, I would write a stern letter to the toy manufacturer enquiring as to why they even made it possible to vajazzle their weird little horse dolls.

That said, are you aware of the practice of lauded Australian artist Robert Owen? Geometric abstractionist, interesting colourist, successful public architecture collaborationist? No / Oui? Well, you might be surprised to learn the installation you refer to is in fact the collaborative efforts of Mr Owen and lighting designer Rachel Burke. They are very happy and very proud of Silence. The staff at the art centre are a little more divided perhaps. One kept mentioning that the ‘big chandelier’ is not coming back because it ‘doesn’t fit’, with genuine sadness in her tone. Another younger, eager spokesperson was much more enthusiastic and very proudly told me that no less than 22,000 (!) Swarovzki crystals – I believe that is called Bling Power in TV shopping network circles – were used in the creation of the new Hamer Hall suspended masterpiece.

Alas, we can’t win all of them can we? And that does go for talented artists as well (there is also another dubious construction by way of a building in Southbank which I don’t believe quite makes it either, in my humble opinion). I acknowledge the reference to the art centre spire – the fractal geometric design that seems mandatory for all key Melbourne developments these days. What I do find interesting is the philosophy behind the Art Centre’s decision to ‘reclaim’ it as their own, to point out to all and sundry that they were the originator of this architectural signature and not bleeping Federation Square. A little too insecure for my liking, I mean surely the cute logo spire would have sufficed? However, the light, shadow and movement which the installation achieves also designed with this same message – I was here first – should be appreciated as a worthy effort.

But my responsibility is to defend my position, and I do. I applaud the emotion and the reasoning, but sadly I do think you are right, the installation screams more of My Little Unicorn rather than glamorous artistic achievement. The steel constructions appear paltry and thin within their surroundings, and dare I say it, I believe it would have benefited from more obvious wizzbang rather than the glitter dust and craft kit bedazzling it seems to have received. The distance, the height, the lack of weight of the sculpture does not compliment the materials. I entered absolutely determined to like anything I see if it achieved one thing: inspired the venue going audience to dress well for their event, and abolish this insulting fad of wearing jeans to the theatre. Sadly, I can see that it would only encourage said audience to ornament their prison garb with a home-made bedazzler kit and feel right at home. But it is here to stay, so we should feel lucky that we have kindly neighbours to inform confused guests that indeed ‘it’s art’.

So alas Underdazzled, let us mourn Arcturus together for that brightest star shines no more at Hamer Hall.

Don’t fret too much it only encourages wrinkles, yours in good faith
Miss April

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Miss April Advises on Art Gallery Etiquette

Dear Readers,

As you may recall I responded recently to Distance Admirer in regard to issues concerning appropriate behaviour at public art exhibitions.

You can then, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I happened across wisdom from the ages which supported my general thesis. What was sound advice to the best American society in 1880 remains steadfastly appropriate for today’s art goers.

“In visiting picture-galleries one should always maintain the deportment of a gentleman or lady. Make no loud comments, and do not seek to show superior knowledge in art matters by gratuitous criticism. Ten to one, if you have not an art education you will only be giving publicity to your own ignorance.
Do not stand in conversation before a picture, and thus obstruct the view of others who wish to see rather than talk. If you wish to converse with any one on general subjects, draw to one side out of the way of those who wish to look at the pictures.”

Truly, commone sense prevails throughout the turning of ages. If only we heeded it well and more often!

Adieu fair readers, let common sense guide your way,
Miss April

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