Monday, September 12, 2005

In Canberra Tonight

Old Parliament House was rather the surprise find of this short trip to our beloved national capital. The building crackles with the electricity of political power. You can wander round Gough Whitlam's old office, loll on the red leather front bench, contemplate Bill Henson's heart-rending tryptych of Simone Young in the National Portrait gallery and, when you're done roaming, have a bite in an above average caff out the back, full of Canberrans who clearly recognise a good thing. Soft shelled crab tempura, sixteen dollars, more please.

Rather a contrast to the National Gallery which these days resembles nothing so much as a national monument to the cult of the stud wall, as the austere off-form concrete interior surfaces of Madigan's magisterial design have beeen encrusted with with a tempura of plasterboard, and the grand cathedral spaces broken up into faux suburban living rooms in tasteful decorater shades. The whole institution, like the cafeteria lasagna, seems tired and stale and tasteless. But at least they have now dispensed with the sad Irish turkey who numbed the great Sensation for fear of giving his minister heartburn. Let's hope Radford gets the place back on track.

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