Sydney Morning Herald Column

On the Origin of Art

Friday, March 10th, 2017 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

In 1997 scientist, Steven Pinker, described music as “auditory cheesecake”. His one-liner has been repeated many times since, with variations. It’s a simple extrapolation to say that all art is “cheesecake for the mind”, or as Pinker puts it: “a brew of megadoses of agreeable stimuli which we concocted for the express purpose of pressing […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Gilbert & George

Friday, December 4th, 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

In the Victorian era the English were masters of the world, known for imperial glory and the strength of their civil institutions. But what are the English known for today? According to English doctor, Theodore Dalrymple: “for their militant vulgarity, their lack of restraint, their arrogant loudness, their ferocious and determined drunkenness, their antisocial egotism, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Red Queen

Saturday, July 6th, 2013 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

It’s becoming difficult to remember what Hobart was like before David Walsh started his Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Within two-and-a-half years this Gothic fortress of sex and death has eaten up the city more effectively than any movie monster ever ate Detroit. Every day a steady procession of tourists from all over […]

Art Essays

Theatre of the World

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 Art Essays, Australian Art, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

For many people museums are uncomfortably similar to mausoleums – repositories of dead animals, dead art, dead ideas. Even those of us who spend their lives in these institutions experience moments when everything feels too dull or predictable. At heart, museums are educational organisations, competing for attention with an ever-increasing range of distractions. But the […]

Art Essays


Saturday, February 5th, 2011 Australian Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Until about twelve months ago Tasmanian millionaire, David Walsh was the most mysterious presence in Australian art. He was the invisible man, much talked about but rarely seen. All this has changed with the launch of his long-awaited Museum of Old and New Art. The phantom has materialised in the form of a middle-aged pub […]