Monday, July 18, 2011

Archibald in Healesville

Yesterday Kim and I took the scenic trip to Healesville to see the 2011 Archibald Prize exhibition at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art. It was well worth the trip. The gallery itself is situated on a hill and the view of the surrounding valley is gorgeous.

I have to say though, I remember back in the day when the Archibald was a free exhibition at the Arts Centre and then later it was shown at Myer (which was a bit strange, I admit) but now it's shown at whatever gallery wins the bidding that year (although I'm not complaining this year as it's a nice excuse for a drive to Healesville) and you have to pay to get in...and it was busy! In fact, busy is an understatement. I was glad I'd pre-purchased our tickets on-line and arrived right on opening. I'm sure it would be a more relaxed atmosphere on weekdays. But nevertheless, we got to see all the works and it was an impressive exhibition.

I bought some postcards of the ones I liked the best. They don't really do the originals justice, of course, but I like little momentos like this:

2011 Archibald Prize

The first one pictured is Mother (a portrait of Cate) by Del Kathryn Barton. It's Cate Blanchett and her three sons. This painting was absolutely huge in scale and the detail was incredible - lots of little dots and intricate patterns make up this piece and you really have to get close to appreciate it.

I love the quirkiness of DA by Amanda Marburg. 'DA' is David Astle who writes the cryptic crosswords for The Age (among other publications) and I like the way this painting is like a puzzle itself - although you can't quite see this in this picture - it's a painting of a plasticine model. Love it.

The last one is the winner: Margaret Olley by Ben Quilty and it really has to be seen in person. The brushstrokes are so bold and textured that when you're up close you can barely recognise it as a face at all. It's best appreciated viewed from the other end of the gallery where the white of the face is almost luminescent - it's just such a striking piece. I'm glad I got to see it.

It was an all-round great day with lunch in town, a stroll down the main shops and a stop at the local nursery for raspberry canes, shallots and garlic for our vegie patch. So relaxing.