Weekend Round-Up 2006 #1

I skipped last week's instalment as it was the Christmas/New Year period, the heat was roaring, the barbecue was grilling and sitting in front of a computer terminal did not appeal in the slightest. As I recall you didn't miss much.

Jeffrey Smart is one of Australia's great modern artists, and I'm astounded by the people who never seem to have heard of him but who indicate instant recognition when they see his work (see here for some examples). I wonder if this means that the art is more famous than the artist, or something else. Anyway in "The Age" this week Ian Britain (editor of Meanjin) reviews Margaret Olley: Far From a Still Life by Meg Stewart and Jeffrey Smart by Barry Pearce, but there doesn't appear to be an entry for it on the website.

Nothing much is shared by Olley and Smart except their medium and their creative resilience. Yet that is sufficient perhaps to prompt some reflection on whether the very exercise of painting, the amount of physical stamina it involves, the demands of a direct and constant visual engagement with an external world, the tactility and ooze of paint itself, are greater regenerative forces than the disciplines, tools and sensory focus of the average writer or composer.

Neither book reviewed here explicitly addresses such questions, yet each provides recurrent testimony to the therapeutic or recuperative qualities of the act of painting: its power to dissipate more than abet any self-destructive, over-introspective moods occasioned by emotional setbacks or physical afflictions in the painter's life.

We do, however, have access to Michael Gordon's review of Graham Freudenberg's autobiography A Figure of Speech: A Political Memoir. Speechwriter for any number of Labor leaders from Arthur Caldwell to Bob Carr over a 43-year career, Freudenberg's insights into the political left in Australia provide very interesting reading: "What comes through is history's capacity to repeat itself in different guises, with the challenges Labor faces today - addressing its own failings, preparing a platform and resonating with the people - bearing more than a faint resemblance to those met by Whitlam in the wilderness years."

In "The Australian" I couldn't find anything Australian being reviewed. It's that time of year. Everyone's at the beach.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 3, 2006 2:09 PM.

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