I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Brisbane - a Sophisticated City

Brisbane has certainly come of age since I first came north from Sydney early in the 1980s.

The capital of Queensland was a big country town then, in the grip of Joh Bjelke-Pedersen, the controversial long time Premier of that state.

I still live in New South Wales - and at the time I was only half serious when I said that I wouldn't ever live in Queensland.

Truth was I lived in a house right on the border and Queensland was just across the road.

However, my memories are of a brash State that seemed very under confident, always needing to push itself forward as though to bolster its own ego.

These days however things have changed a lot, and no area is more proof of this than the very impressive cultural precinct that these days has grown to include the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), alongside the more traditional Art Gallery of Queensland.

The cluster of buildings, also including the Queensland Museum, State Library and Performing Arts Centre, is always abuzz with Queensland locals and visitors.

GoMA was running a Picasso exhibition when I caught a train north last Sunday to meet there with a couple of friends visiting from Sydney.

'Picasso and His Collection' included 100 of his works plus 80 others from such luminaries as Matisse, Cezanne, Rousseau, Miro, Modigliani and Vuillard which had been in the master's personal collection.

Many of these were placed in the exhibition alongside Picasso works which had been obviously sources of inspiration for the Spanish master.

Also impactful for me were the African and Oceania works sprinkled through the gallery, again from the personal collection and again placed alongside the master's own works.

The effect was startling, underlining the profound effect these ancient artisans had upon Picasso.

Look at these:

First, an African mask in Picasso's personal collection, and second, a fragment of
Les Demoiselles d' Avignon, a painting that was to become a watershed in the history of art.

Among stars in the exhibition (so far as I was concerned) were Matisse's Marguerite

and Mogliani's Dark-Haired Girl, seated. Source GoMA

There were many other wonderful pieces in the exhibition, and Brisbane was lucky to have them. But then Brisbane has established the type of environment where such riches can exist happily.

This is the foyer outside the new State Library, next door to GoMA where there are many facilities for students of life et al in this beautiful building. There is a sense of whimsy too, and plenty of space for fun.

These are giant sculptures of beetles playing happily on the ceiling of the library foyer.

Of course, children love the place.

Coffee and food are everywhere ...

Gardens and architecture mingle to create great eye candy.

The complex sits on the southern side of the Brisbane River and there are long boardwalks that lead to many parks and places of historical interest.

We're walking alongside the Art Gallery of Queensland.

And the CBD is on the other side of the water.

These days, Brisbane is a city that's well worth a visit.

I've Been Tagged By Kate of Shambles Manor

Apparently that means Kate will put her foot on my chest and hold me down until I answer the following questions:

1) Where was I 10 years ago? Let me see - I was pretty well where I am today except that my house was 1km away, in the same suburb. Boring eh? I did travel to Europe et al in between.

2) What's on my 'to do' list for today ? My 'to do' list today included a trip to the EcoVillage at Currumbin to help my daughter and other volunteers, answering questions for visitors at a World Sustainable Day. As you will have read in my previous post the village won the World's Best Real Estate Development earlier this year and with the honour comes the responsibility to spread the word about how to lead an environmentally friendly existence - although that's really what the village is all about anyway.

Hundreds of people closed in on the village to walk through three of the houses which had been thrown open for the day. It's great to see that many Australians seem to be developing a serious interest in sustainable living.

Also on the 'to do' - a visit to the Swell Sculpture Exhibition, again at Currumbin. Each year many very clever sculptors spend weeks and months to produce works that are mounted along the beach, drawing crowds for the ten days or so during which the exhibition continues. I had some problems with my camera so I'm going back in the next few days to take some pictures for 70 Plus and Still Kicking, and have a look all over again. Watch for the next blog!

3) What if I were a Billionaire ? I'd buy myself a house in the EcoVillage and live a sustainable life in a great community. I'd also do something towards the provision of low cost housing for the mentally ill.

4) Places I have lived ? Always in New South Wales in Australia. Born in Sydney, off to the beach 100km away at The Entrance when I was one, back to Sydney at 17, off to the Tweed Valley in Northern New South Wales at 43. Still there.

5) Bad Habits ? I'm a bit deaf and my daughter tells me I yell in a crowd.

6) Snacks I like ? Chocolate!

There Kate - can I get up now?


  1. Loved the pictures of Brisbane and seeing all the artwork. Enjoyed hearing more about you in Kate's tag. I still have to do mine as I got tagged too. Thanks for becoming one of my followers. I was finally able to add it to my blog. I have pulled something in my back and am not up to par today. Trying to take it easy. We have chocolate in common!

  2. Judy I can see the worth of this tagging buisiness! We get to understand each other better - to know where we're coming from.
    I'm not at all surprised that you worked with the less well off in society - you shine empathy.
    We'd be fun in a room together - I think we're both maybe a bit loud!
    Was wondering about you this week with Ike an all. Looked at a map to see how close you were.
    Pleased you liked my 70 Plus and Still Kicking post of Brisbane and art.

  3. I loved your Brisbane husband went to a place called Palm Cove a few years ago to attend a conference and also went to Bisbane and Sydney. I really enjoyed my visit to yoursite, and was delighted to know that you are a , what I call. "Scintillating senior" :-)

    Am slowly approaching the top of the "hill". Hoefully there will be a big plateau there, on the other side....

    Best wishes .

  4. Hi June, Yeah OK you can get up now, now you see the benefits of these tag things ! Oh I'm sooo jealous of your visit to the exhibition - I 'love' things like that, have been 'into' Art all my life... and actually to be honest it was one of the very few subjects I was interested in at school well apart from History and English... but it was the only thing I was any good at ! Brisbane looks beautiful, when I win my Billion I'll call over to Australia and have a decco.
    Cheers, Kate x.

  5. Well Kate you're back from Blackpool! I hope you had a great time. You can be assured you were missed. Others aren't as refreshingly cheeky!
    Don't wait for the billion - that's too long. We would tear Brisie apart!
    June in Oz

  6. Hello to Ugich - enjoyed having you visit from India. I peeked at your blog Gappa and loved in immediately. You'll see my face on your site now as a follower.
    It's good to know who that little Indian dot on my GoogleAnalytics map belongs to ... I wish others would make themselves known as well. I'm really looking forward to learning more about life in India.
    Apparently I have had people calling in recently from Malaysia, Germany and Japan. My other blog Journeys in Creative Writing has visitors from Italy, Slovenia, Morocco and Cyprus, as well as more expected readers from the USA, NZ, Canada and Oz etc. One person from Uzbekistan stayed for fiteen minutes.
    Perhaps they'll leave a comment next time and I can get back to them.
    You'll hear from me again soon Ugich.
    June in Oz

  7. I'm surprised you didn't find Brisbane more interesting in earlier days. I had a bookshop there for over twenty years (went back after years away in Melbourne and overseas), mainly because I thought it a great place for a child to grow up. But it absolutely blew me away! The young protesters, the alternative minded people, the readers ...they inspired me to buy five acres, have bee hives ... all manner of adventures - and way back then!
    I reckon those years led to it being what it is now...and I've been away for over twenty years but go back regularly to research there.

  8. I should have mentioned an inteesting book that's come out - The Third Metropolis, imagining Brisbane through Art and Literature, 1940-1970 by William Hatherell. There's also Pig City - about band music emanating from there.
    I am anonymous because I've forgotten my password and don't have time to go find it!

  9. Hi Anonymous
    My view of earlier years in Brisbane was from around the mid 1980s. I never lived there, but visited often.
    It seemed to me that by then Queensland was very firmly in the clutches of Joh Bjelke-Pedersen, and the demonstrators and the alternatives had been beaten over the head, and weren't as openly active as they had been.
    It was a time of fear, with the frightened sections of the community mouthing only inanities in public. I became sick of hearing about how wonderful Queensland was!
    The gutsy ones were around of course, and paddling away frantically under the water. It must have been hard to stand up to so many police!
    I had a journalist friend (one of Jo's 'chooks') who had tried to write stories with an alternative view. Jo had a huge PR machine and journalists who did not use his media releases were denied any information at all. Jo made my friend's life so difficult that he was forced to leave his home town, and became quite traumatised by it.
    Many aspects of dealng with journalists in this way lingered for years - as a journalist in SE Queensland I had a revealing run in with one of the conservative Ministers myself - not hard to do!
    In all of this, it's ironic that construction of the Performing Arts Centre and the Art Gallery of Queensland were begun in Joh's reign. These became the kernel of today's wonderful cultural centre.

  10. Sorry about the typos in the comment above. The man's name was JOH Bjelke-Pedersen!

  11. It's interesting that we've both been in journalism and PR work! My "alternative" days were right in Joh's country, not far from the Bunya National Park. The really subversive stuff was going on underground into the eighties and very strongly. In fact, I think that's when the battle was won. Did you know Ross Fitzgerald at all? Although his History of Queensland was withdrawn, lots of copies got out before it was'sd a period that's so interesting it would take ages to debate ...and of course the times were harsh but I always felt that was what made it such a challenge. I didn't leave till about 1988...Just simply must check my password... Sorry, forgot again ...

  12. Hello again Anonymous
    I think you're feeling blogger withdrawals - you will have to get going again.
    As I mentioned before I'm certain people were really paddling away to make the changes happen.
    As ever your personal experience establishes your view of things. Must try to get Ross Fitzgerald's book in a New South Wales library... What's the name of the particular one?


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