Monday, 16 February 2009

Degas at the NGA

Our little alarm clock woke us early this morning. I think he was worried that we may not get to the gallery in time but luckily we had four hours till it opened. We dawdled and breakfasted and dawdled some more until it was finally time to go to the gallery. Obviously S hasn't discovered the zen art of Canberra navigation and so we took the scenic route.
We walked to the gallery, stopping to admire the surrounding buildings, the new Portrait Gallery and the High Court. I was told that the High Court and the NGA both come from the same architectural style called 'new brutalism'. I'd like to think that is true.We entered the foyer of the gallery (S and Jack made a better impression than I did wrestling with the stroller and the revolving door) . A guide (or is it guard - it's hard to tell and they seem to fill both roles, maybe a guirde?) told us about a children's activity room that was part of the exhibition. We battled the walking stick brigade and started looking at the paintings. Smiling our smug little smiles as we said, "Oh remember, we saw that one in Dublin or was it the Musee d'Orsay" but Jack soon tired of our jetset chitchat and became restless. Luckily we spotted the kid's room and made a beeline for it.
I love Degas' paintings and sketches, particularly his bathing women and the exhibition had some nice works though not it's not as memorable as some we've seen but the family room was great. There was a farm with horses and jockeys, jockey silks and horses on a stick and tutus and a barre. Karina (from the gallery) tried to get Jack to try on some jockey silks but no dice. I tried to get Jack to try on a tutu, even trying to wear one myself (it only came halfway up my legs) but he wasn't up for it at all. Actually another mum tried that too but she wore her tutu poncho style.
There was also an easel for drawing and some great cubey cushions that were like a big puzzle of Degas artworks (trickier than you would think). Jack found them good for jumping on and off.
Jack had fun playing with Karina (from the gallery) and some other kids who dropped in while S and I took turns looking at the rest of the exhibition. Occasionally the curiosity would get too much and people would come in to see what was going on (Jack leaping off cushions or playing musical instruments). Otherwise people would press their faces up against the door and frown in at us (having fun in an art gallery - outrageous). Reluctantly we left so we could go to the cafeteria and get some attitude. I lingered in the shop on the way out.
Art galleries usually have great stuff in their shops and the NGA always has really interesting bits and pieces in theirs and the one attached to the Degas exhibition was fantastic fun. Tutus and chandeliers and french knickers (couldn't you combine all of those into a swinging scenario?) arranged on a table and all the colours of the rainbow. I must say I was drawn to them but could sense the grey nomads frowning at me like I was some sort of pervert (I bet their hotels weren't near Fyshwick). So I ambled away to look at some other lovely thing and they pounced on the knickers, fingering the fabric and murmuring about sizes.
We ate a very unappetising meal from the cafeteria and then returned to our car for the trip home. Jack fell asleep almost instantly and I was nodding a short time later. Funny how the trip back seemed so much shorter.

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