Tuesday, July 26, 2011

boat people can make us proud

Anh Do escaped an unstable and dangerous Vietnam in an unlikely boat after the withdrawal of Australian troops, wrapped in the arms of his mother. He is now a lawyer, but is best known as a stand up comedian. He recently won an important literary award for his book 'The Luckiest Refugee", details can be found here. I listen to his voice, and I sense the values that he seems to have developed, even in the absence of an easy childhood and he makes me feel a little bit of pride in being Australian. I only tell you this because I haven't felt this way often in the last fifteen years. There was a warmth in being an Aussie that has been partly subsumed recently by a shallow edge of materialistic and anti-intellectual self-interest.

Margaret Olley passed away to-day. She was an artistic institution here, not only as a painter for most of her eighty-eight years, or as a patron, mentor, and subject of many famous paintings, but as an on-going presence representing the artists artist- the type unaffected by fashion or trend, simply content to delight in the texture and colour and sensual delight of the painted image. Say her name and I smell turpentine and linseed oil, I think of domestic clutter and light falling across a kitchen table. I remember Cezanne and Matisse and Bonnard, and I'm reminded of the gritty surface of canvas, the scumbled brush and crinkly tubes with lids not quite on: the interior landscape of a perceptive mind both bound and liberated by the familiarity of ordinariness and the domestic space.

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