Day 21 : Art?

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Felt weirder than expected to leave Lisa’s. It was almost like leaving home all over again. Felt very quiet on the train from Nambour to Brisbane; it’s quite a pretty route actually (although I was on the wrong side of the train to get a good view of the Glasshouse Mountains) but I guess I was too lost in my own thoughts.

Maybe everyone ultimately craves stability and ‘knowns’. I’ve known Lisa for 15 years maybe, and met her and her parents once before; they all seem to like me being around too. Some might say my time there was boring, compared to what else I’d been up to previously, but we can’t gallivant all the time, we need some rest breaks every so often, and this was in a comfortable environment where I felt at home.
And now I’m leaving it, to visit a small dodgy poverty-stricken Portuguese-speaking country that didn’t even exist when Lisa started writing to me. All feels a little weird; but I guess once I get there I’ll be back into the swing of things; it’s just going to be a bit of a ‘jolt’.

But first was Brisbane; finally made it there and it seems a pretty nice city, pleasant like Adelaide although seems a bit busier and that it has more ‘bustle’ about it. I was only there for around six or seven hours, and yes an extra day would have been useful, but no biggie.

Lisa’s not the only person I know around here, oddly, and at lunchtime I met up with Colin, a chap I know from the old days online (roughly when me and Lisa started writing, in fact, at the back end of the 1990s). Colin, like myself, was one of the people who frequented a particular Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel, theoretically centred around the music of French singer Mylene Farmer, but in practice we talked about any old bollocks. Although we chat online rarely now (mainly for special events like the Oscars, and of course Eurovision), we know each other on Facebook and stuff, so it’s pretty easy to go ‘hey! I didn’t know you were in the area! Last time I read you, you were in Chile. Fancy lunch?’.
Weirdly, Colin’s parents live in Nottingham, and he goes over there every now and then, but we’ve never managed to meet up over there because I’m usually away somewhere when he’s been around. It’s frankly amazing I meet up at all with people.

The rest of my time in Brisbane was spent wandering round the city, past the weird art sculptures in a couple of the squares – one of which was littered with human-sized steel balls, for no discernable reason.
However, in my wanderings over to the South Bank (the site of a previous Expo), I seemed to naturally slide into the contemporary art museum, to be greeted with the first thing on the walls being the entire back catalogue from 80s British band the Smiths. In vinyl. Turns out one the larger displays on at the moment was all about modern music, from album sleeves to displays of more experimental music (John Cage was oft referred – including a piece whereby you had thirty cassettes of Mozart and five decks, and by choosing different tapes you can get different music produced).
This ‘temporary’ approach to creating artwork continued elsewhere in the museum, with a display room on more ‘physical’ yet ‘ephemeral’ art, such as the Chinese artist who demonstrated the temporary nature of art and the fact of nature by getting so many people to stand in a river – the water displaced representing the change in the nature of the river, which returned when the people stepped out. He did the same on a mountain, changing the height of the mountain temporarily by getting people to stand at the top of it, with a stone.
Another artist had three pictures of himself smashing an ancient Ming vase. This was to demonstrate that ‘art’, and more specifically the price of art, is subjective, and that the value we put on items is something we as a culture do, rather than something specific about the vase itself.
There was also a section on contemporary Aboriginal art which seemed out of place with all this pretentiousness, even though it, too is laced with symbolism and deeper meaning – the art here is deemed to be part of the landscape, as it’s made from items found in nature, which explains why Aboriginal peoples hold such reverence for art.

After a ‘pie face’ (a pie from a shop run by fashion designers), it was time to leave. Long flight to Darwin, where I dozed slightly on the plane, and although attempted to sleep on a chair in Darwin airport, it wasn’t the most comfortable or practical thing in the world.
Darwin felt very ‘tropical’ even compared to Brisbane – much warmer and ‘heavier’ air. I guess this is what I have to look forward to.

So that was Australia. I didn’t have too good a start, but at the very end I was a bit sad to be leaving, although that was more the company than the country. Maybe with hindsight I’d have done a different journey, but then I guess I would never have known what places like Perth and Adelaide were like. Whenever we take a road, another road is not taken, but you never know where the road goes until you take it. And there’s no such thing as the right or wrong road, it’s all relative; you don’t know how the other road would have gone.
The only solution is to take both roads, unfortunately I’m not a millionaire time traveller.

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