Pinky's Book Link

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pinky the Accidental Art Critic

My son Thaddeus and I padded around the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, soaking up the familiar works of Tom Roberts, Sidney Nolan, Fred McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale and the like, attempting to ignore the disdainful glares from the security guards. 

There were paintings I’d only ever seen in my grade twelve art text book and my father’s coffee table books.

                         "The Golden Fleece" by Tom Roberts

And then I came upon this.

At first I thought the painting was hiding behind a black screen... so it was with not a small measure of dismay I realised that no… this was the painting. 

At least I think so. 

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Have you ever read the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’

Feeling like the lone little boy who shouted out to the naked Emperor that he was, indeed, walking around in the nuddy, I dragged Thaddeus over and directed his gaze to the abstract piece.
“Are they ‘aving a lend of us?” I challenged Thaddeus. “This is where Australian taxpayer’s money is going? Can somebody really justify this as a piece of art?”

It made me recall a play I read one time. It was about a gallery janitor who accidentally left his apple core on an empty pedestal. The next day the art appreciators arrived and on seeing the ‘new sculpture’, milled around it; analysing the line and features and praising the innate symbolism. 

Even now, as I write this, I’m still not positive the painting wasn't just hidden behind a screen...

At Thaddeus’ request, he and I had spent the morning ploughing up and down King St in Newtown. The natives were a different genre to that in the heart of Sydney. There were no suits and blonde bobs, but more vintage cardigans, chunky black boots and hipster apparel. 

The tempo was slower as well, unlike for example, the congested pedestrian traffic necessitating moving around as if you’re in a game of Frogger every time you cross the road.

“I feel like I’m in the middle of a Whitlams’ song,” commented Thaddeus as we walked up the trendy inner city suburb’s road.

There was a mother and teenage son standing in front of us at the lights. Mum was clearly coming down from something or other as she stood slapping the cross walk button hard and sharp for the full five minutes the lights took to turn green, shouting, “F#$k, f#$k, f#$k, f#$k, f#$k!!!!” the entire time. Her son looked bemused but a bit embarrassed at the same time.

“See!” I shoved Thaddeus in the ribs. “You could have done worse than Pinky as a Mum.”

“Can we go to check out King’s Cross?” he asked. 
I agreed since it was the middle of the day and it was unlikely either of us might be unfortunate enough to cop a ‘coward punch’. 

Not that there’s all that much to see in the Cross except a lot of exceptionally weird and wonderful characters, an iconic fountain, a soft drink sign,

 and a few select folk walking around with obvious symptoms of delirium tremens.

Thaddeus stood on a corner checking out Google on his phone trying to source the name of the nightclub which hosted Todd Carney’s recent shenanigans. 

I think he wanted a photograph of the signage to post on Facebook. I stood beside him on the corner as a couple of cops pulled up at the lights. “Look!” I undiplomatically pointed at the cops. “They’ll probably think I’m a hooker and you’re my pimp!”
Thaddeus turned around to look and the cops stared back with a glimmer of interest…  then drove on ignoring us.

‘I’m probably too old to be mistaken as a hooker anyway,’ I thought in minor disenchantment.

We saw a girl in a Marilyn Monroe wig, a white bejewelled ball gown and twelve inch heels walking up and down the street. There was another older lady in a fluorescent spray jacket screaming her head off and doing a slow striptease across the road. It was quite a show for a couple of country hicks such as us.

We’d been out until midnight the previous night watching Strictly Ballroom at the Lyric Theatre.  As we’d been walking around all day it was nice to sit quietly sipping a Shiraz, people-watching from a bar in the middle of King’s Cross and discussing which movie we’d go to see that night.

Then it suddenly occurred to me how bloody lucky I am to have a twenty-four year old son who is such damn good company. He’s worldly and amenable, flexible and considerate and an all-round delightful travelling companion.

I must have done something right in my parenting after all.

Don’t feel sad about your kids growing up. It’s just as nice if not better when they do.