The above pictures were taken in National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the most visited art gallery in Australia. Melbourne is also known as Australia’s cultural capital for its well-known galleries and literary scenes. The gallery was divided into two main buildings: the domestic and the international exhibitions. On interesting thing about the international exhibition is that it features a considerable number of art works from Asian countries.
It was my first time visiting an art gallery properly; I only visited Singapore Arts Museum (Singapore Biennale 2016-17) once for my school assignment – I guess that didn’t count. Suddenly what I learned in one of the modules in USP (Nationalism and the Arts) made more sense to me: how I should approach one art work and interpret it, how the caption next to each work could help me or distract me, and how historical and political background could contribute to an artwork. I was intrigued by the national narrative of Australia conveyed through each art work, and how European culture, for better or worse, interacted with the local culture. I remembered a term called ‘cultural surrendering’; it means that when a coloniser forces its own culture to its colonies, there won’t be any cultural exchange, but only cultural surrendering. I guess that sense of cultural surrendering also makes contemporary Australian artists reflect on their past and identity.
I was also lucky to catch up with a special exhibition on Hokusai, with hundreds of his work borrowed from Tokyo’s art museum. I was intrigued by the scenaries of Mount Fuji depicted by Hokusai, and his creative philosphy – people are powerless in front of unpredictable natural forces such as wave and wind. It symbolises a sense of awe to the environment of earth and advocate for a harmonious relationship with the natural landscape. Hokusai started paiting rather late in his lifetime, but he was nevertheless glad that he could finally find his true passion.
Next, the Great Ocean Road, or more precisely, the Twelve Apostles (interesting name for some giant stones LOL, although there were only eight on that day, with an extra one just collapsed not long ago). I guess one cannot claim to have visited Melbourne without spending a day on the Great Ocean Road. It is perhaps the furtherest point from home I have reached in my lifetime so far. Besides finding the place the background of many Hollywood movies, I felt peaceful despite the strong wind and occasional passing rain on that day. There is no music that can capture the magic of waves catching up with the sand, but still, I listen to the humming of nature. There is no poem that can describe the sunset, but still, I see the beauty of this imperfect world. It was really a memorable day and place for me.
Finally, some other pictures I have taken in the Melbourne city area. I especially enjoyed the trams and spent quite a few days wondering around the state library and haunting cafes. I really had some fond memories in Melbourne (the world’s largest IMAX screen for Dunkirk). I hope to visit it again!