Tag Archives: Australian politicians

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.


More Art Censorship

Another exhibition has been censored in Australia. In the same month that Cecilia Fogelberg and Trevor Flinn’s exhibition at Platform was censored by Melbourne City Council. Again this has been due to a single a complaint about nudity in photographs. But this time the NSW Police has supported the censorship shutting down the exhibition. And this time it is an internationally known photographer, Bill Henson and Roslyn Oxley9 gallery, a major Sydney commercial gallery.

For the news story read: Photographer Bill Henson exhibition under investigation

The last time that NSW Police were stupid enough to venture into art censorship in 1982, was also at Roslyn Oxley Gallery. Then they fueled the career of painter Juan Davila. I don’t know what they hope to achieve this time as Bill Henson’s career is well established, but the price of his photographs is sure to rise with the increased controversy. It will also increase the long held reputation of Australia being a country of prudish philistines.

“The discussion about Stupid as a Painter in the press and in the art scene was predictably ‘Is it art or is it pornography’, only a repetition of the long history of censorship in Australia.” Juan Davila (Hysterical Tears, 1985, p.13)

The discussion about the Bill Henson exhibition will, unfortunately, be same. The claims of morality and protecting people underlying censorship are hypocritical considering Australia’s record of genocide, war crimes and brutalisation of refugees (including children) in Australian concentration camps. It is not surprising that nudity in art is being regularly censored in Australia as it helps maintaining the failed illusion of decency.

The parrots of Australian politics came out to show their hypocrisy, ignorance and philistine attitudes. Leading the charge was the ever-righteous Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Bill Henson’s photographs –  “I find them absolutely revolting.”  NSW Premier Morris Iemma said he found the exhibition “offensive and disgusting”. NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell followed the trend condemned the exhibition. If this is Rudd’s real opinion of Henson’s photographs what level of revolting, beyond the absolute, does he have for his US allies torture program or the abuse of children by Catholic priests? Or are those things less revolting to Rudd? He certainly acts that way.

And so the real reason for the police raid is to help these slimy politicians make themselves appear like moral leaders. It is difficult to make an Australian politicians with no regards for human rights appear moral but beating up an artist over nudes is probably the best way to do it.

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