Daily Archives: July 7, 2008

Culture Battle

“Frankly, I can’t stand this stuff.” Kevin Rudd’s said commenting on Australian art magazine, Art Monthly. Rudd joins the long list of Australian Prime Ministers who hate the arts. It is a hatred that spans party politics and social background. Australian PM Menzies had the same opinion of modern art as his contemporaries, Churchill and Hitler. And Menzies did more legislatively to enforce his opinion than Churchill but less than Hitler.

There are several culture clashes in Australia, some, like the battle between the arts and philistines have a long history. There has never been any resolution to this conflict, only heightened times of tension. There is a great desire to bring this particular cultural conflict to a conclusion rather than continue with the tension. This is why there have been so many letters and comments about the Bill Henson controversy as people weigh in on various sides.

The battle, between Australia’s cultured and the philistine wowsers, is worth fighting. The outcome will have wide, but not unforeseeable, effects: the brain drain, the number of skilled professionals willing to work in remote areas, the number of teenage pregnancies, the general education standards of the country and many more areas. For example, Australia is now the fattest country in the world. Australian culture has an ugly body image stuffed with junk food. Has it become a culture where any attractive naked body, young or old, is regarded as sexual bait because so many Australians have made their bodies so unattractive?

I have nothing but praise for the tactics, Art Monthly editor Maurice O’Riordan, he has chosen the work of art worth fighting for and with excellent defenses. He has restored some “dignity to the debate”. The fact that Opposition leader Brendan Nelson (no relation to Olympia Nelson, the nude model) can only understood this in terms of “two finger salute” is an indication of his lack of comprehension and not O’Riordan’s tactics.

The politicians are on the run and their tactics are highly questionable. They bark loudly in the popular media in a manner offensive to one little girl, Olympia Nelson. They call in the police, threaten prosecutions, threaten to cut funding and then retreat under the cover of an independent organization capable of making reasonable, informed decisions, like the NSW Public Prosecutor. The politicians hope that this controversy would just go away but it is a battle worth fighting and I would encourage everyone to keep applying the blowtorch to Rudd.


Interview with Kelvin Thomson, MP

Recent events might cause people to think that all Australian politicians are philistines. So I decided to pose a few brief questions via email to my local member Kelvin Thomson the Federal Member for Wills. He was very quick to reply to prove that he does have an interest in the arts.

Mark Holsworth (MH) : What was the last visual arts exhibition that you attended in your electorate?

Kelvin Thomson (KT): The last visual arts exhibition I attended in my electorate was Friday June 20, an art show put on by Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College called “Something in the Air”. Before that, in my electorate, was “The Yard” Art Exhibition Saturday 3 November 696 Sydney Rd Brunswick. 

MH: Yes, 696 is well worth a visit; I have written about several of its exhibitions in my blog. And otherwise what was the last visual arts exhibition that you attended?

Kelvin Thomson: The last visual arts exhibition I attended was as above. Before that was Monday May12, Turner to Monet, Landscape Exhibition at the National Gallery, Canberra.

MH: What was the last live performance (theatre, concert, opera, dance) that you attended?

Kelvin Thomson: The last live performance I attended was the musical put on by Pascoe Vale Girls on Friday June 20; the performance before that was “Keating, The Musical” in Melbourne in 2007.

MH: Who is your favorite contemporary visual artist?

Kelvin Thomson: I don’t have a favourite contemporary visual artist; I’m more your Eugene Von Guerard nineteenth century landscape type.

MH: What is your favorite work of visual art featuring a nude?

Kelvin Thomson: Chloe, formerly (?) of Young and Jacksons.

MH: Thank you for your answers. It is good to know that you are aware about the arts and I hope that readers of my blog will find this better view of a Federal MP’s involvement with the arts than PM Kevin Rudd’s recent breakfast TV comments.

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