MONA opened last weekend and everyone is invited, the gallery is free and intends to stay that way. I recall Queensland’s contemporary art collector James Baker opening his private gallery to the public many years ago and whilst it was open he generously shared his collection without charging the public so now we have another far-sighted individual in David Walsh who puts his money where his mouth is.
Yes we have the Sydney Biennale exhibiting art in non gallery venues but MONA was built as a gallery and you will find the building is as subversive as the art inside. It houses all elements – that is materials and methods of construction and then the non material, charm and surprise and for some bewilderment awaits. And you must make a commitment and enter, like Alice you will descend into this gallery as little is on the outside, it is another world and all the world is invited.
The night before our long Saturday visit we went out to the opening party by ferry. A very pleasant 20 minute journey on the Derwent. When 11,000 people applied online to get tickets to the opening and 2,000 were selected by computer we were two of the lucky ones. Was it a clever gambling system that we cracked?
David Burnett, Curator of International Art at the Queensland Art Gallery catches up with John – David is on the left. They share a passion for scarves.
So the next day we changed all our plans and went back to MONA as early as possible even though we had tickets for the ferry later at 6.15pm, but we just knew that a couple of hours in the evening would not be enough.
Another view from the queue, a carton here that contained a tiny section of the huge Sidney Nolan artwork that forms a major centrepiece in the gallery. The girls on stage were doing a sound check. See the tennis court in front of the stage, a facility David Walsh insisted on including.
The entrance has a mirror of horrors facade, love the effect. If you look up close I seem to have a shot of David Walsh at the front of the entrance.
I like the inside entrance, a living room, a few chairs and a cosy fireplace – it all spells WELCOME.
SORRY MY REGULAR READERS – NO PHOTOS OF THE ART HERE – I have written asking permission to reproduce some of the artworks, you are allowed to take photos but not reproduce them on private websites without permission.
We ordered a copy of the special limited edition of the catalogue, easily justified, how often do you get to go to the opening of a brand new gallery, we went to the new Guggenheim in Metz last year but it had been opened for several months, so being at MONA is an opportunity not to be missed. We drove down from our cosy small town in the north-east – Bay of Fires and it was well worth the 4 hour trip. And you know what we are going to do it again when our book is available, we will spend a few more hours, we could not see it all and we need to revisit some work we liked.
On entry you are given an iPod that you use as a guide to the artworks, if you press Love or Hate, the gallery can keep a track on the affect the work is having on people, but I just figured out that I should have pressed Hate instead of Love of the work I want to stay.
My friend Ken Erger had his letter to the editor published today in The Mercury along with many others on the same topic – this is what he said, ‘As David Walsh looked out upon the sea of faces at his MONA, did he ever imagine that his gift to all of us would bring such speechless wonderment to so many? Any chance Hobart can now encourage him to help change the look and feel of our waterfront and CBD with his ability to visualise, organise and transform?