03/29/2012, Hobart Tasmania
I apologize for being a few days late with our blog entries about sightseeing in Hobart. A major reason is that I really needed time to digest the experience of going to the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA).
The picture at the top of this blog entry is a photograph of the MONA building that I lifted off the internet. None of my pictures did it justice.
There are two dilemmas involved with describing MONA. One is that a lot of the best pieces would be considered profane by many people , so I have had a hard time figuring out how to describe the experience politely. The other is that its totally unlike any museum either of us has ever seen and I'm sure one visit was not enough to let us figure out what the place is all about.
One floor was closed for the installation of a new exhibit while we were there.
MONA is made up of the private art collection of a Tasmanian named David Walsh. Walsh is a very wealthy man with and incredibly developed imagination about how his collection should be displayed. I have not researched it but someone told me he made his money in gambling. I guess my source meant games of chance gambling not the stock market kind. Either way, MONA makes it pretty obvious that he is someone who has figured out what to do with his money. He has built an impressive monument.
If you are in Australia it is worth the effort to get to Tasmaina, if only to see this museum. If you are not in Australia, this place is a reason to travel here.
The building is stunning. It is carved out of a limestone cliff face on the bank of the Derwent river. . You enter on the top floor and are advised to start at the bottom and work your way up. You can either walk down the circular stair case or descend in a circular glass elevator (aka "Lift"). We walked down and when we were finished at the top we walked back down to get our elevator ride up. Its a cool elevator.
Nothing in the museum is labeled. That is something my aging eyes and back appreciate. I did not need to bring my "museum glasses" which are cheap reading glasses that have a magnification that works for things that are farther away than my regular reading glasses can focus but not far enough away that my unaided vision works. Im also getting tired of museums that put the labels at heights that work for people in wheel chairs or for Michael Dunn. If they want to put wheel chair accessible labels up why can't them put a set for people who are average height, too?
Anyway, I digress. Instead of labels MONA hands you an iphone to wear around your neck. The iphone figures out what exhibits you are near and brings up multiple levels of information about each piece. You can read as much as you want about the things that interest you. Sometimes there is Audio included. Shawn used his iphone to get maps to our next destination (Kmart) as the iphones also provide internet access. You could even check your email.
The big thing at MONA is the collection and we were there when there was a temporary exhibition of the work of someone I had never heard of but who is the most brilliant modern artist I have ever encountered. Wim Delvoye is Belgan who lives in Ghent. He was born in 1965, the year I graduated from high school. Delovye paints, carves, casts things in bronze and uses photography. He also uses laser cut steel and car tires in his sculptures. He has used live pigs as a canvas for tattoo art.
I think it would challenge an art critic for the "New Yorker" to describe MONA. How the works on display fit into the continuum of modern art and old is something Im not equipped to do,. I do want to communicate the impact this place can have on someone like me who does not know much about art but, hopefully, recognizes quality when he sees it. In a brief movie Delvoye mentioned his distain for modern artists who paint like Chimps. He is not one of those.
Wim Delvoye showed me things I would never have thought to appreciate. His observations about life, as expressed through is art, are a very powerful thing to experience.
Ill just provide a brief description of the Delvoye works that left an impression on me and also mention some of the other works we saw.
Mona records your visit through your iphone and give it to you online. You can access my visit by going to the following site and entering my email address (email@example.com).
We started our tour on the bottom floor and the first work we came across was kinetic water sculpture. I had not figured out the iphone thing at that point so its not included on my recorded tour. This sculpture is a 20 foot long bar that is suspended,horizontaly, about a story and a half above the floor. Every second or two a computer controlled array of solenoid valves, in the bar, release drops of water in a pattern that results in water falling in a way that shows the most googled headlines from the internet. The letters are close to a meter high and, as the array of drops fall, they become less well associated and eventually become unreadable before they crash into the floor. The lighting is designed to allow you to easily read the words as they fall. It is a mesmerizing piece.
We quickly found ourselves in the Delvoye exhibits.
The first works were bronze castings of various religious and anatomical objects. One piece was a 25 foot long double helix in polished cast bronze. The helix was made up of distorted images of the crucified Christ.. The Crucifixes were stretched and twisted to force them into the double helix structure.
Another piece was a polished stainless steel case for a motorcycle, including the motorcycle inside the partially opened case.
The first of Delvoye piece that really got my attention was a display of 14 enlarged radiographs where he had posed dead rats as the actors in the stations of the cross. On my iphone each radiograph's description included the biblical verse describing what was going on at the particular station of the cross.
Shawn was first to realize the irony of this exhibit when he said that mice would never do such cruel things to a member of their own species.
There was an exhibit of car tires (tyres in Tassie) carved in traditional Chinese motifs by Chinese craftsmen. It is a testimony to Delvoye's imagination that he could see the possibilities that something as mundane as tyres offered.
One room was dedicated to delft style paintings of windmills, and other typical delft scenes, but they were done on propane bottles like we use for our gas grills in the states. Some of the paintings we done on shovels. For something like this to work it has to be extremely well executed and Delvoye shows himself to be a very accomplished painter.
Another room is dedicated to tanned pig hides that are decorated with tattoos. Delvoye owned a pig farm in China (probably the only country where he could get away with it) where his staff raised the pigs and where he and other tattoo artists under his supervision could work on elaborate tattoos on the backs of the pigs. The pigs were allowed to grow to large size and were killed for their hides. I doubt that the rest of the pigs went to waste in a Chinese village.
The images he selected include on elaborate design centered on a picture of Osama bin Laden and another featured the princesses from Disney cartoons. Snow White and Tinkerbell were included. He also had one hide that was a repeating pattern of high fashion logos that he discovered are very popular on pirated goods in China.
The other tattoo art of Delvoye that was arresting is called Tim. It is a guy named Tim who is a musician from Melbourne Australia who has had his back tattooed in very elaborate Delvoye designs. The skin off Tim's back has already been sold to a collector who will get possession upon Tim's demise. Tim removes his shirt and sits on a pedestal in front of one of the few windows in this museum. Time just sits there with his back to the passing crowd.
The crown jewel of the Delvoye exhibit is named Cloaca. It is a 70 foot long and 12 foot high process chemical reactor that replicates the human digestive tract. It is fed twice a day through an insinkerator garbage disposal mounted under a polished stainless steel sink.
The cloaca consists of half a dozen glass bioreactors with feed lines and probes to allow control of the digestive process by an industrial process control computer. The device looks like something that might be used in a pilot scale biotechnology plant to manufacture a drug or other complex biochemical. Instead it is designed to manufacture poo. Every day at 2:00 PM the cloaca eliminates the product of the prior 24 hours of production.
We are always marveling at robots that can mimic human activities. Delvoye's cloaca seems to be saying that it is imitating a human activity to is frequently overlooked, i.e., poo manufacturing.
Do do this Delvoye had to build a machine the size of small truck. One can only imagine what sort of scale up would be needed if he wanted to build a cloaca on the scale of a Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich.
Delvoye also had a display of what he calls "Anal Kisses". He put lipstick on peoples anuses and had them make "kisses" on paper. The detail that made this work special is that he used stationary from 5 star hotels from all over the world. MONA has greyed out these images on their web site but you can easily see them by googling the subject. Like most of Delvoye's ideas, you wont find a sea of similar things on google.
There is also a life size model of a cement truck ,outside the museum, that Delvoye made from laser cut steel so it looks like a gothic cement truck. There are also several sculptures inside the museum made from laser cut stainless steel.
This long blog entry barely scratches the surface of the Delvoye exhibit but Im moving on to a couple of the other things that impressed us.
An Australian named Daniel Mudie was very moved by Tina Turners song "Proud Mary" so he has taken it upon himself to do a lip synched music video of the song every 5 years of his adult life to record his aging. The museum has monitors with the two most recent versions on display. This is already an interesting exhibit and one can only imagine what it will be like in 10 or 20 years.
The other modern thing that we really enjoyed is a karaoke room with 30 monitors featuring 30 different people performing Madonna's complete "Immaculate Collection" Album. The performers were a 50:50 mix of male and females. They all appeared to be 35 or younger. They are all non native English speakers and homeless. This display is hysterically funny. Some of the performers sing the background parts too. One was a drag queen who stopped to reapply makeup between songs. Some of the performers tried to mimic Madonna and others took liberty with the musical ornaments.
The museum also contained a lot of old art that was, for the most part, nicely displayed and explained on our iphones. There were collections of Roman Coins and Egyptian mummy cases and scarabs. The only issue I had with the exhibit of the coins is that they put them in tall cases where the coins were mounted from my knee height to just over my head so it was uncomfortable to get into a position to view many of them. They were also mounted so you could only see one side of the coins.
I will post some of our photos of the exhibits we saw. Unfortunately a lot of the photography on the MONA site does not do justice to the exhibits.
MONA belongs on everyone's bucket list.
03/26/2012, Hobart, Tasmania
The title of today's blog post may have you puzzled. Shawn came up with it and it's inspired by the fact that the "Bob Barker" and Sea Shepherd ship is docked only a couple of hundred meters from us.
Bob Barker was an American TV game show host who was an animal rights advocate. He ended every episode of "The Price is Right" with a reminder to his viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered to reduce the population of unwanted cats and dogs. Bob gave Sea Shepherd $5,000,000 to buy the ship near us and use it to fight Japanese whaling ships in the southern ocean. Hence the reference to having your whale spayed or neutered.
The day after we arrived back at Kettering our friend Reg picked us up and took us to his place for the night. We got to do laundry and also ride around on the peninsula and see some of the sights which are mostly breathtaking views. The D'Entrecasteaux channel is one of those places that photos can't capture (unless you are as talented as Ansel Adams). Its stunningly beautiful view in every direction. I took some pictures and will post them, but don't expect much.
We had a invite for dinner that evening at the home of Bob and Lindi. Bob was one of the crew on Reg's boat when we met them in Port Davey. Lindi and Reg met in law school.
Bob and Lindi have a cozy home in the mountains near Hobart. They have a big vegetable garden and everything we had for dinner was out of their garden except the round beef in the Moussaka. Even the beets were noticeably better than store bought.
We spent the evening sitting in front their wood stove in the living room and trying to explain the reason for the Republican primaries in the US. We are yet to meet an Aussie who is not appalled by the things they read about American politics. They just cant understand why people vote for politicians who are so obviously working against their best interests.
When we left, around midnight, we saw lots of local critters like pademelons, potoroos, and wallabies helping themselves to Bob and Lindi's landscaping.
We had a nice comfy night at Reg's place sleeping under two comforters.
On Sunday we hung around Reg's place for a few hours and helped him with some chores like getting the bird netting off his pear trees.
Then Reg took us for a hike to see Snug falls. It was one of those hikes that starts with a long down hill walk. I hate that. I like to do the uphill part first but that approach wont work if you need to go down to a waterfall. After the hike Reg dropped us off at the dock. While we were there we got to take Reg down to Dave and Marcie's boat. They are leaving their boat in the same marina as Reg's boat while they travel back to the US for 6 months.
We spent the night on Petra's mooring and took off for the 15 miles trip to Hobart.
We got to the Constitution dock at 2:00 PM and had to tie up and complete the paperwork before they opened the bridge and let us into the transient docking area. They charged us $123 AD for a week and that includes nice clean showers and rest rooms on shore as well as a nice laundry that is the cheapest we have come across in Australia. The nicest thing about this location is that it is right in downtown Hobart with stores and museums a short walk away. The only thing we will need transportation for is going out to the Museum of New and Old Art that is about 12 miles up the river. We can take a ferry, a bus, rent a bike (the museum rents them at a location near our dock) or even sail the boat up and anchor near the museum.
There is a copy of the Endeavor which was Cook's second ship for his explorations in this part of the world. It looked to be nicely built and the pictures they displayed of the spaces below decks looked like they were probably quite a bit more sanitary than Captain Cook would have enjoyed. They had some big groups of school kids lined up to go aboard and wanted $18 each for us to tour the ship. We took a pass for both reasons.
We want to tour the Sea Shepard ship named "Bob Barker" but they are not doing tours today. We will catch them tomorrow afternoon. We also want to see the Maritime museum and the Tasmania museum, both of which we can see from where we are tied up. There is also a map store that Reg raves about. Its a short walk away and is on our "must do" list.
03/23/2012, Kettering, Tasmania
The Tassie summer ended abruptly last night. Temps have dropped and the change was accompanied by rain and wind which tends to amplify the effect of the temps.
Our goal for the day was to leave Port Cygnet and return to the mooring that our friend Pam was kind enough to loan us in Kettering.
We were a bit late leaving Port Cygnet because every time we got ready to get underway it started to rain again. We finally got the hook up and motored slowly for about 15 minutes while we dragged the anchor just below the surface to get the mud off. It was too cold to stand up on the foredeck and squirt the mud off with our washdown hose.
The trip back to Kettering was fine. There was enough wind to sail but neither of us wanted to handle the wet lines in the 50 degree weather so we just motored. We needed to charge the batteries and run the watermaker anyway so it probably did not cost us much more in fuel than we would have used anyway.
Next week we plan to tie up at the constitution dock in Hobart where there are some creature comforts for visitors like hot showers with infrared heat lamps and a laundry with a washer and dryer. We will also have dockside electricity while we are there so we will probably buy a small electric heater that will keep the boat dryer than our propane heater.
Our friend Reg is going to pick us up tomorrow and take us up to his place for a couple of nights which will be a nice change from being on the boat 24/7. He has a washer and dryer so we can get caught up on laundry and enjoy Reg's entertaining company.
I have been reading a very good book called "Win and Clyde". by Janet Fenton. It is the story of a couple who lived in the South Western Tasmanian wilderness that we just visited. We visited their house at Clayton's corner when we were there.
Fenton is an incredibly good writer who is the daughter of Denny King, a legend of the Tassie wilderness. Fenton had access to both the subjects of her book, while they were alive, and many diaries that provided a lot of interesting details about the rugged life these self reliant people lived. As I read the book I am amazed that Win and Clyde were living out their adventure in the Tassie wilderness around the same time that Vicram Seth's uncle and Aunt were have an equally unique but entirely different life in London during WWII and the years following. Seth's book is called "Two Lives" .
"Win and Clyde" not available on Amazon. The publisher is a small Tasmanian publishing house called 40south publishing.
I wish I had run into Janet Fenton after I knew how good her book is. I would have encouraged her to find an ebook outlet for it so that more people could read about her incredibly interesting aunt and uncle.
The picture on this blog entry is the cover of "Win and Clyde"
Win and Clyde were fortunate to have had an incredibly interesting life and even more fortunate to have had someone like Janet Fenton to tell their story so well.
As I close off today's blog entry we are sitting safe and secure on Pam's mooring with 15 kts of wind out out the west. The remote thermometer in the cockpit says its 46 degrees out there and its still an hour until sunset. Burrrrrrr.