Art Gallery of NSW
If you approach it through the Domain, the art gallery of New South Wales looms out between the trees in a manner not dissimilar to any other grand architectural monument. The building itself resembles other temples to the arts such as London’s National Gallery and Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery. Indeed, considering the youth of Australia, it did not follow too far in their footsteps.
The permanent collection in the Gallery of NSW is certainly smaller than those found in Britain. It does however include a collection of early Australian works which gives a beautiful insight to a newly discovered land and particularly when placed next to European pieces of the same era depicting their familiar pastoral settings, the alien landscape of Australia is highlighted.
In the Modern section of the gallery, again, although smaller than its British counterparts, the lack of standard fare gives way to a perhaps a few more diverse choices which wouldn’t normally get so much of a look in. Works by Lucian Freud take pride of place, looming large on one wall. Equally the single Van Gogh in this collection shows the master of colour working with a very muted palette of browns and greys, showing another side to his work, and one that I, as an art novice, had never seen.
Alongside this collection, indeed the main reason for my excursion, was the gallery’s current exhibition ‘Pop to Popism’ . The exhibition used the chronology of the movement to anchor the pictures and traces its roots from the early sparks of the movement until its culmination. The exhibition features all of the usual suspects. Warhol, Lichenstein, and Richter all appear but alongside works by Australian artists of the genre. The colours and patterns of the aboriginal art seemed perfectly suited for this style and proved to be some of the most eye catching of the exhibition.
State Library of New South Wales
Wandering back from the art gallery and past the grand State Library, my eye was caught by the large posters adorning the pillars. They had on them an image of a very familiar scruffy cartoon dog. One that I not only remembered from my own childhood, but one that I had read a lot of recently. Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary having a lasting appeal. I wandered into the exhibition where I found a beautiful collection of early sketches and original drawings from the books. The biographical boards described Dodd’s rise from art student to beloved author and cabinets containing her works highlighted just how prolific a writer she had been. The whole exhibition reminded me of what joy her characters had conjured up and really did prove her universal and enduring appeal.