One month ago today, I left on a five-day trip to Brisbane, Australia to see a Matisse exhibition. It already feels like ages ago.
This afternoon I was looking through photos I took while there, and discovered I didn't take many, and they are all of appalling qualities, partially due to the weather during my stay, which was either tropical torrential rain, (some places "near" Brisbane started flooding before I left,) or humid tropical blaze. It was, though, was an eye-opening trip for me, so I'll post a few photos. (All the galleries except Matisse allowed photography, but I didn't take a lot and the few I did came out, oh, so badly.)
Barnes Murals because there were few visitors who were particularly interested in the work. The following morning, I opened my balcony window, and, whoa, serendipity.
Brisbane was big, bright, but not as brash as I had expected. The scholarship behind not just the Matisse exhibition but many others at both GOMA and QAG were high; they installed/hung artworks beautifully; printed material, lectures, and films associated with the exhibitions, many free, were excellent, and the staff, paid and volunteers, were exceptionally well-informed.
The galleries were beautiful, with plenty of indoor and outdoor sitting areas to rest and reflect on the artworks; bookshops were well-stocked with interesting and/or rare books in addition to their own publications; even the cafe food was great. I was mesmerized by the combined largeness and excellence of the galleries and shows, and felt strong multiple jolts telling me Nelson is a small place and there is so much out there in the big wide world.
Australia, and particularly Queensland at the center of Australian mining industry, has not been touched by the recent recession. Everything was expensive, including the exhibition catalogue (A$50, and no, I didn't get it, because it was so heavy!), accommodation, and food. Because I stayed in an apartment, I cooked most of my meals, having only two lunches at the galleries, but still I ran out of cash I took with me quickly and the trip cost far more than I had estimated. Although entry to most galleries were free; I think I only paid for the Matisse exhibition, which was A$20.
On the other hand, having lived in financial dire straits, both personal and worldwide, for quite a few years, I had forgotten how people walked and talked when they are experiencing good times; forward-looking, uplifting, and thinking big. I needed to be reminded of that.
Australia is really big. The central part of Brisbane has good public transport, not just on the ground by also on the river, but it's also easy to walk around. Something I can't experience in Nelson was taking 15 and 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other of one building, or to hop over to the next building. That in the torrential, tropical rain, or the humid tropical blaze.
When I think of visiting Australia to see art, I automatically think of Melbourne and the state of Victoria, but again, there is a big world out there, even within Australia, and it was good to be reminded of it. I'd like to keep an eye on what exhibitions GOMA hosts, and if possible, go back to Brisbane with Ben so he can experience that city. Though expensive, it's so near and we don't need to be away for weeks and months for a new experience.
You do realize, though, I'll be weaving and posting a lot about "merchandises" because, did I mention, Australia was expensive?
Nelson to Wellington is a 25-minute flight; Wellington to Brisbane was around 4 hours; Brisbane Airport to the center of Brisbane by train was about half an hour. The longest wait was A) having bags checked and getting out of Brisbane Airport, (somewhere between 60-90 minutes,) and waiting for the train at Brisbane Airport, (the train ran either every 30 minutes, or I think every hour when I arrived.) Wellington Airport charges NZ$25 to exit, but Brisbane Departure Tax is included in your flight, and people working in the travel industry don't seem to know what Departure Tax is; at least not the ones I asked.
You can use NZ credit cards on EFTPOS machines in any old shop in Brisbane, with your regular pin number; in fact if you have the new chip style credit card, transactions were much faster on the Australian system.
I expected to see many of the same brands on Australian supermarket shelves, because we import so much of their stuff, but that wasn't the case. I also had a hard time finding the variety of yogurt we have in New Zealand.
Julia and Kev did all that just to entertain me on that Monday, I know.
In 1988 when I first visited Australia, I was amazed how tall everyone was, even compared to Minnesota, especially the women. I wasn't mistaken; I saw so many extremely tall Aussies, well over 6 feet. There was one surreal moment in one of the smaller rooms exhibiting Matisse's earlier drawings: it was around 4.30, golden time, only people who haven't got the heart to leave hang around, taking longer in front of each drawing. There were three of us in the room, me and two tall men. One was tall, probably around 6"4', and I had this familiar sensation of belt buckle walking past me face. But I kid you not, a few moments later, a pair (??) of buttocks walked past my face; this man was older but with good posture, and he wasn't all out of proportion like some tall folks are, but he was... tall, and even the other tall man stared at him.