Monday, 18 April 2011

Eugene von who?

I'm in the National Gallery (Ian Potter Centre) suffocated by dreary small talk emitted by the soon to be purple rinse brigade dressed in money, tailoring, chiffon, the odd hat and copious amount of hair spray. I meander through the masses scanning the room for curious characters, my brain processes them as made up words in an otherwise dull text - trustafarians with facial hair and interesting cable knit, multicoloured aunts punctuated by handmade jewellery and the odd mad professor with the ever arousing bow tie or seamed stocking.

With free moonshine and anticipation as my accoutrements I strike up conversation with the security guard, it proves fruitful when he offers me tips on the how to avoid the scrum into the exhibition. I feel slightly self conscious though and head back to the bar, I'm on my fourth glass by the time my friend from 'out of town' arrives, he seems put out by the fact the free bar closes in ten minutes. We feign interest in the speeches as we move crab like into the gift shop, a welcome distraction to the self congratulating, I'm too young to care about the whys and where's I want to see what the fuss is about. Paul dips out for a smoke, I down two more glasses and immediately head to the loo on the third floor, the clapping ends and I hear the scrum approaching. It appears the show has opened right in front of me, second inside, in my fizzy wino state, I congratulate a very mumsy looking first with a high five.

Dashing through the first room as though it were a supermarket sweep, my brain takes drunken snapshots of the wonderful sketches and paintings whizzing past me. I slow down and focus, absorb, absorb, by room two, I'm gazing awe-struck at the sequential images of Cape Woolamai, longing for the outback, a wilderness to surround me, a horse to ride and camp fire to curl up next to. It’s the Australian dream untouched, I pull out my $20 phone and type in my future destinations, it surreptitiously saves a few, I make a drunken vow with myself and anyone in ear shot to venture to Weatherboard falls, Cape Woolamai, and another even greater Cape, my phones functionality (or lack thereof) alluded me at this point. A return visit is on the cards - I want to search out the mystery destination, which may not actually be as it was a hundred years ago, but worth exploring.

Eugene von Guérard works (even in my hazy state) display painstaking craftsmanship and attention to detail, the inflections of light on the New Zealand lakes and orbs radiating from the trees in twilight. An excellent introduction to the beauty of Victoria and beyond, being in Brunswick you forget where you are.

Eugene von Guérard
Nature Revealed
runs until 07 Aug 2011
Ian Potter Centre
Federation Square

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