I wrote and contributed this experiential essay then although not immediate to the 17th. What definition I wonder did we choose, the ed. and me … to move on to something else instead.
The hubbub of children oscillated like a drone in the hall. Fashionable ladies with smiling grey-haired, white-headed and bald men gathered near the vinyl/leather lounge where I was sitting. Hardly an individual voice could be heard. I was lost on the second/third floor of –perhaps – an outlier of a department of the NGV for all the sense I could make of foyer areas of bare walls and stretches of carpet with scrambles of schoolchildren pets accompanied by their teacher-owners walking them. Wherever I walked. Some carrying chairs and so far I hadn’t seen any art much. It is a big place to feel adrift. Feeling very much a loose cannon, might I cut and run. Escape the noise setting up its one all mighty gig in my head. As if off the end of a water slide whooshed. Barely treading water was I considering the carpet a stretch of a hard sea. I had decided to walk to meet with the thrill of discovery of a random piece that would transport me to heaven. An intrigue of an oil painting by an abstract artist. The solid of a sculpture by a realist. I began wending my way across a loch inside a castle on the island in its moat. I could not be far. I reached a lift door hidden in a blank wall. Art was in the air as a bespectacled youth with another bespectacled youth met the lift when I stepped out. The young people spoke to the silent lift as they stepped in. Their words whisked into the drone of words, laughter, giggling, sneezing, coughing, talking, whispering, rustling, but no footsteps. A spy could get a spy with polonium-210 in that place. People maintained their distances, walked singly and flitted with chairs.
Harrall Fletcher’s exhibition appealed to me for its title: The sound we make together (Melbourne). I did not attach to it thoughts about the initial cacophony of nothing and everything going on in my head and space as I defined it in the interior’s conclusions of edges of blocks of shadow and light and unlit corners. “Soundscapes” (an assumption) had lept out of a flame of interest to the forefront of my narrowing mind and I turned to looking for locational plans, a wall directory, signs. A sign after choosing the traffic of attendees going somewhere to trail after was obscure that appeared in a dark (I am sure) wallplate: ‘Harrall Fletcher’ I discerned and details. I chose the modest door and felt blocked by a screen with hanging on it a dark (I swear it) photograph that didn’t appeal as I wondered if it was lit or I unlit. ‘Collaboration and Participation’ was not what I was after and yet I chose a community-based project. I was more and more engaged in interest in the individual.
When I walked around the screen and saw the sea of floor, felt an immense separation of feelings I noticed stirring in instinct to bond them, from where I stood thus I undertook an honorary inspection of the room empty other than for its exhibits and decided…to leave the NGV for another visit to Melbourne. Outside, I saw a couple of enterprising men using the synthetic grass space next to the gallery to stretch and discuss the dynamics of their musculature. They waved their hands at each other. I thought that looked interesting. A thin young man in an ill-fitting suit sat on one of the clustered bales provided on the lawn. He lifted a pamphlet to read it and discretely scratched his top lip with his free hand. I recognized a Movember moustache as I did another and another inclusive of the same self-conscious gesture wherever I had walked through the streets of Melbourne that day. Art abounds in Melbourne city in the street, that seeming to be wherever it can be fitted and adorning its architecture.
Somewhere alongside the Yarra River I sat at a bus stop, changed into the Crocs I unpacked out of my possessions in my rucksack off my back and found a rubbish bin for my sneakers. I had over the course of two days walked my sneakers to ribbons and as well I needed to repack my belongings ready to catch my plane in the early morning.
Emmjay and I met at First Dog on the Moon’s book launch of FDotMs Christmas Book of totally scratchy (hilariously funny) text and cartooning, which is why I was in Melbourne and on that day we both were on invitation to attend. We had a delightful meeting. Emmjay (he mistook me for the woman in the grey dress) I learned was holed up somewhere earlier enjoying a pre-launch vino. I was sorting myself at my digs at the backpackers across the way from where the early evening event was held at the Trades Hall.
Although Emm had to leave to catch a plane home I could stay on for an evening of side splitting comedy of one after another stand-ups who followed the launch on a separate billing. The talent of the performers every one particularly the lack of pointless profanity I recall as a breeze on a summer’s day. I explored the corridors of the Trades Hall after the show.
Victorian workers won the first 8 hour day in the world in 1856. An original address for the Victorian Trades Hall was built in 1859 and the present building is result of upgrades between 1874 and 1925 (Wikipedia). The structure is magnificent from an architectural viewpoint of a monolith. The commodious space where the launch was held was comfortably filled later by the large audience that enjoyed the evening’s performance comedy and when I had arrived before the launch, I took a wrong turn and found myself in a series of meeting rooms.
I photographed the display of the image of Gough Whitlam on the landing of the magnificent Trades Hall staircase that has accommodated the tramping up and down its sweep of who can imagine how many workers.