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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Tree of Life

May 11, 2021

One could hardly imagine a more universal subject than the tree. It’s one of the first things children draw, as a familiar lollipop shape. It lies at the centre of almost every major cosmology, from Adam and Eve’s misadventures in the Garden of Eden to Yggdrasil, the tree at the centre of the old Norse […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

She-Oak and Sunlight

May 4, 2021

Do we really need another survey of Australian Impressionism? It’s been 14 years since the National Gallery of Victoria’s previous overview of the field and one wonders what new breakthroughs have occurred since then. In 2007 it still seemed a novel idea that we might call this group of artists “Impressionists” in place of more […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The National 2021

April 20, 2021

Conceived as “a celebration of contemporary Australian art”, The National has been a strange beast ever since its inception in 2017. One of the problems of this event – a biennial collaboration between the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks – is that it has occasionally seemed to be a […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Dobell Drawing Prize 2021

April 19, 2021

If anyone should know about drawing it’s Guy Warren – he’s been doing it for about 90 years, although he only began taking lessons in his teens. When I spoke with Warren last week, as he was closing in on his century, he related drawing, and art in general, back to prehistoric times. “Making a […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

William Yang: Seeing & Being Seen

April 5, 2021

William Yang is a Sydney institution but a Queenslander born and bred. Last week he was reclaimed by his state of origin for a retrospective at the Queensland Art Gallery that allows us to read one artist’s career as a tale of social evolution. Even allowing for the wrong turnings of the present day, over […]


Sydney Morning Herald Column May 18, 2021

Home Of The Arts Opens

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend the Gold Coast finally opened its new gallery, modestly titled Home Of The Arts. A few minutes drive from the concrete heart of Surfers Paradise it’s virtually impossible to miss the building – the latest concoction by Melbourne postmodernists, Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM). A six-storey block […]

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The Past Returned in a Perfume Bottle

April 22, 2021

A small, brown, glass perfume bottle with a neat gold trim is causing excitement at Sydney’s Jewish Museum. This piece, recently donated by heritage consultant, David Logan, becomes the first artwork in the museum that was taken from a Jewish private collection by the Nazis and subsequently restored to its rightful heirs some 80 years […]


Cultural death by a 1,000 cuts

April 17, 2021

Should we be surprised the Berejiklian government is contemplating a sneaky cut to the operating budgets of major cultural institutions? By now we’re accustomed to those familiar patterns of secrecy, lack of transparency, and the reckless disregard for both public and expert opinion. The rule is: “We know best, so suck it up.” For a […]


Guy Warren 100 not out

April 14, 2021

Australia’s oldest artist, Guy Warren, is getting tired of being asked: “What’s the secret of a long life?” His answer is very simple: “You just have to keep living.” When Warren gets down to detail he says it’s a matter of “good genes, good luck and a whiskey every night.” Beyond that he doesn’t know […]


Monet: Larger & Lighter

April 2, 2021

There are worse ways to spend an hour than being surrounded by gigantic projections of Impressionist paintings while listening to the greatest hits of the Belle Époque, but don’t imagine that Monet & Friends – Life, Light and Colour is an art exhibition. This audio-visual extravaganza is a spectacle with one foot in the past, […]