An Adventurous Broad Abroad – NGV

I’m learning Australian. ‘Ambo’ is an ambulance (always good to know that one), ‘pot’ is a small glass of beer (they have some very good ones here) and ‘arvo’ is afternoon (go figure). I’m also getting used to the fact that almost any important place has an acronym. Cities have a CBD – Commercial Business District – and usually something that ends in CG. So MCG is the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, etc and you’ll make more friends here if you know that one. I spent a glorious day at the NGV – the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Melbourne isn’t the capital of Australia, although it would have liked to be, but they nonetheless seem to have usurped the rights to a ‘national’ gallery and a very good one at that. There are actually two locations for the NGV – the primary location on St. Kilda Road and the Ian Potter Centre, a satellite site that forms part of the wonderful outdoor plaza at Federation Square.

The Ian Potter Centre features a luscious display of aboriginal art. As is usual in the galleries I’ve visited in Australia, there were several groups of school kids learning about the pieces and in this case, hearing the aborigine stories that are so much a part of each piece.




These stunning paintings depict a story or journey or landscape in thousands of dots of colour. This style of story-telling is apparently a fairly recent art form.


The elongated shapes with the stripes in this piece represent the ceremonial paint that aboriginal women would paint on their breasts for ceremonies. The repetitive circles are likely water or salt pans so this painting might represent a women’s ceremony.



This intricate piece is a ‘map’ of sorts of various waterholes throughout the desert and the path taken to navigate between each one. The spaces in between water holes are intricate descriptions of the terrain on the route.


Not all the pieces are aboriginal. This piece is called ‘Nest’ and is an illustration of our tendency to humanize inanimate objects.


This is the primary location of NGV on St. Kilda Road. It was pouring rain and cool on this day – a perfect day for the art gallery.


All the museums I visited in Melbourne are free! It’s totally impressive and might help explain why museums are all well-populated with children. I wonder how many more kids would come to museums in Canada if they were free?

These kids were invited to “Slip off your shoes and let’s draw comics!”


I watched this very interesting installation for quite awhile. Note the computer cables. It’s programmed so that every few seconds something happens – a beat of a drum, a breeze catching a flag or a boot stomping.



Melbourne is celebrating fifty years of The Australian Ballet with this lovely costume display in the Center for the Performing Arts and with another display at the NGV.


The tutu and pointe shoes for a performance of Swan Lake. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen a ballet so seeing Swan Lake is on my ‘To Do’ list.



The exhibit included a video of a modern piece with interesting costuming that included this unique take on the traditional tutu.



I loved the architecture of this gallery which included soaring open spaces like this huge, colorful atrium…


…and an expansive terrace leading to statuary on the lawns and in the ponds.


This mosaic, about two feet by eighteen inches is set in the wall along the river near the gallery. It commemorates the original site of the Wirth Bros. Circus which would come to town and set up along the present site of the Center for the Performing Arts.


I’ll head northeast now to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast but I can’t leave Melbourne without a tribute to The Olsen – the exquisite art hotel that was my home for the week. From the moment I walked in this seemed like a wonderful place to linger and I actually extended my stay just to have more time here.

More than a hotel, The Olsen is filled with spectacular artwork. The whimsical frog theme in this opulent painting by John Olsen is repeated throughout the hotel in other art pieces and on some of the amenities.



A welcome sight at the front entrance after a long day at the horse races or sightseeing. The cups say “Our glass is half full…” This is my kind of place.


The rooms are spacious, very well equipped with great workspaces, fully equipped kitchenette and comfy sitting areas.



I dipped into this wonderful mini-bar basket with real gusto. Not only does it have a great selection but at surprisingly reasonable prices and if I felt inspired there’s a small canvas and paint set in here!


As bathrooms go, this one ranks up there. I’d give it a nine on my BRS – Bathroom Rating Scale – only because it doesn’t have a tub.


Be honest now….when was the last time you had a good belly laugh in a hotel bathroom? If these labels on the bathroom amenities don’t make your day…


Location, location, location. In addition to being a fabulous place to stay The Olsen is steps from great shopping and train or tram stops to everywhere. And in case you feel like alternative transportation you can pick up one of the bicycles at the front door or rent their SMART car. Now how smart is that?!


The Olsen is one of the Art Series Group with several locations planned for Melbourne. And only Melbourne, apparently. I’m going to write them a letter to see if they’ll consider expansion to Canada and I’ll be their agent. But first I’m off to Brisbane.

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