Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kitchen gardens and the injustices of taking art away from the suburban extremities.

Something happened when we got home from our lovely holiday. We went back to work and the kids had school, and there was tennis, music practice, more work, lots of rain, the boys got sick and I got tired. Possibly reality hit us with a large, blunt object. I think we're all good now.

The best remedy seemed to be to grab a camera, and grab a child (the one who has his own camera) and to head out and about. Somewhere with coffee and cake, mountains, flowers, trees, tumble down buildings and a comforting familiarity to it!  We ended up at Lanyon Homestead, a regular haunt and indulged in some afternoon tea before a browse around the gardens. I know I have blogged it before, but I love the place - its position beside the Murrumbidge River, looking up to the Brindabella ranges and its very loud echoes of a bygone era. I love its garden, its house museum and the interesting collection preserved within and without!

We ambled around the garden, and it is looking in great shape. Beautiful perennials (which I learnt once were as near as possible to the original plantings, although not entirely sure of this) and a really healthy looking veggie patch. It is a decent size, and services the cafe menu so you are assured of something seasonal, fresh and very local!  Coloured silverbeet, looking so big and strong. Some serious herbs - not your spindly, fine stemmed ones but vigorous, thick clumps of basil, thyme, parsely, chives and probably more but by this point I was going into overload! Artichokes! Marigolds! Beans! Blackberries and Raspberries!

I got so distracted by everything happening in the veggie patch that I forgot to snap all my usual subjects  - old windows, doors, rooflines and such!

I did get some flowers and some unusual textures....

These following ones were by my little side kick...excellent, I would say!

All that wholesomeness (including the chocolate fudge cake Bryn ate) got me thinking about kitchen gardens at cafes, and more specifically at cafes at art galleries or museums. I thought of a couple but I'm sure there are more (my friend Lou would know if she was reading!)  
cafe vue at Heide, out of Melbourne  
and the cafe at the Lewers Gallery (Penrith Regional Galleries), western Sydney
These places nearly make my head spin and my heart leap out, because they have ART, HERITAGE, FOOD and GARDENS.

Oh that's right...Lanyon used to have all that too, back in the good ol days when the Nolan collection was housed in...the...Nolan Gallery, in the grounds at Lanyon Homestead. 
Here's where the injustice comes in, and I get really frustrated, because the gallery used to house several collections of Sidney Nolan works, some of them specifically gifted by Sir Nolan himself with the express condition that they be exhibited on the Lanyon Homestead precinct. There's debate and conjecture from opposing factions (Lady Nolan vs. Commonwealth gov), but as far as I can tell (please correct me if anyone has insider knowledge and I'm wrong) the collection was moved after "some" storm damage to the building which placed the important works in danger. Fair enough, move them to dry ground temporarily whilst refurbishing the building. Instead they were moved permanantly into locations in Canberra CBD, where authorities gloat that a broader and larger audience is able to appreciate them.

That's so unfair! It really was a huge cultural asset to have in the southern suburbs of Canberra - an interesting, significant and engaging collection where there is not a heck of a lot of other art. I'm sure more visitors eye ball the works in their current positions at the National Gallery of Australia and Canberra Museum and Gallery, but I'm also sure that more could've been made of their original, ethical home. I dont know the stats on the Nolan Gallery visitor numbers, or the cost of keeping it open, or of refurbising it to be a stable place for art works, but I dislike how swiflty and smoothly something of great value can be removed and never returned. I wonder if more time, energy and of course money could have been spent on promoting the gallery, and on attracting visitors and I suspect punters would still travel (30 minutes) from town to see an important collection.

Anyways...just a few days after our jaunt I read something interesting in the local paper....

oops...not that one (that's shameless self promotion) was this - an article entitled Jewel in Canberra's crown

 Not only does it picture the fabulous gardener, Alison McLeod, but it discusses ways in which the site can be opened up for more community use. It comments on the number of visitors, and the Arts Ministers' hope that local artists would be encouraged and inspired by the space, in the same way Sidney Nolan was. They are trialling an artist-in-residence program in the "Sidney Nolan Building" (read - gallery with the art works taken out of it). I love the idea of that, but I love the idea of having the Nolan works there too, for an even greater, deeper sense of place, relevance and history. So I guess I'll be responding to the call out for comments and input...

1 comment:

  1. Love the post but that 'shameless self promotion' is fantastic!! Well done you :) Hope you picked up a few extra copies :-P