Today, for the first time in almost eleven months, I went to the Art Gallery of NSW. It was both familiar and changed. A lot has happened in that time. It was a brief roam, testing myself.

Under the Stars: “Taking a transhistorical approach, Under the Stars presents stargazing and mapping by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, highlighting the commonalities and connections in our shared attempts to understand the night sky and our place in relation to it.”

The tilted, framing grid of Gail Mabo suggested I may be able to take stock, find myself, in the shifting world.

Gail Mabo

The halting, fragmented music of Katie Paterson, forcing awareness of gaps and absences, pursued me around the gallery, conscious of what is lost.

Katie Paterson
Earth-Moon-Earth: Moonlight Sonata reflected from the surface of the moon

The furious energy of Roger Kemp’s etching. exploding from containment, quickened my breathing.

Roger Kemp

Next to it, a rubbing from a stele engraved in the Song dynasty suggested contemplative, intelligent order, a continuity in the world and heavens.

Unknown artist
Ink rubbing of an ancient Chinese astronomy chart

Real worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020

Jack Stahel’s drawing installation confounded me. The objects, together with the information signage provided, fascinated, but also showed me how out of condition my mind is. I couldn’t engage as I wanted to. I couldn’t hold a thought.

Jack Stahel
Unified theory of itself

Margel Hinder: Modern in Motion

I’ve shown Hinder’s work a few times in the past. Today it was the small and intricate pieces that caught me. Playing with ideas, experimenting, provisional. A lightness and movement.

Lunch in the cafe was solitary and filled with love and memories.

A salad my mother would have enjoyed – cauliflower, lentils, pomegranate. Her little wickedness, a treat of chardonnay at lunch time. She would have turned up her nose at my sensible glass of water.

Mum was my frequent companion on visits to the gallery – among so much more. Today I tested – proved – my belief that she is with me still.

As I left I heard Ngaiire’s haunting voice, evoking love, change, departure. Her repeated refrain “when I count to three, let go”.

I listened, shook my head, and we walked on together.

Still from video

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February 2021

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