Yes, art still matters…

24 02 2016

… it’s just that I haven’t had a great deal of spare time to write about it. Art, that is. Or not here, at least.


I am sorry.

Self-flagellating as we speak. What can I say? I have no really compelling reasons to explain my absence from this sadly neglected blog other than to say I have been very, very busy. With this. And this. And a little bit of this.

But the demise of the Melbourne Art Fair was too big an event to ignore. If you’re interested, head over to The Conversation to read my perspectives on the situation.


Out with the new, in with the old

23 03 2009





It seems that old art is the new black.

So, you’ve cashed in your stocks and shares. Sure, bitter tears coursed down your cheeks when you thought back to what they were worth a year ago. But what choice did you have? The nausea-inducing swells of this particular financial typhoon got the better of you.

But now… what to do with all that cash? If reports from the Maastricht Fine Art Fair are to be believed, then the thing to do is to buy Old Master paintings and antiquities. Although the article in the International Herald Tribune by Souren Melikian does seem to convey the slightly desperate air of someone trying to talk things up, that might just be my interpretation. I have been diagnosed with a near terminal case of cynicism, after all. And it’s not at all surprising that people would turn to proven market performers as everything else threatens to end up in the septic tank. Dutch genre scenes, Italian Masters and armless Greek goddesses are the art market’s equivalent of gold bullion.

Now that the hedge funds have been pruned back to mere stumps, the rampant speculation in contemporary art by young artists is likely to cease. People will no longer be looking for ‘the next big thing’ to buy and resell in a couple of months for a hilariously large profit. Instead, they’ll be searching for solid, material investments in which to park their cash. The future gains may be modest by comparison, but at least they’ll get something back.

That’s the theory, anyway.

Image: Gabriel Metsu, ‘Old Woman at a Meal’, sold by William Noortman at Maastricht for $US 4.8 million. International Herald Tribune

Cultural overdose

1 08 2008

Me: We still going to the Art Fair together?

Vaguely arty friend: Yeah. Sure. Wouldn’t miss it. Exciting.

Me: When?

Vaguely arty friend who clearly cares more about alternate therapies and football than art: Umm… I’m at a reiki workshop all day Friday. Oh, shit. Sunday’s out. St. Kilda’s playing the Crows at Telstra Dome. How about Saturday?

Me: Do you have a death wish? 80 galleries, 32 bazillion works of art in one day?

Vaguely arty friend who clearly cares more about alternate therapies and football than art: Shit. Guess you’re right. Better save it till next time, eh?


The Melbourne Art Fair is a splendiferous affair. A veritable smorgasbord heaving with cultural treasures. But it is big. So very, very big. Love it, live for it. But also fear it.

Something akin to the Grossi Florentino degustation menu. Too obscure a reference for non-Melburnians? Perhaps.

Let me elaborate. Or, even better… Read, and weep. And, yes, to pre-empt the inevitable question – the following is served to a single diner. I can tell you from personal experience that the Romans had the right idea about surviving such culinary debauchery (look it up): 


Zucchini and mozzarella terrine, pickled mushroom, radish, watercress “salsa verde”, snails with parsley and farro 

90ml Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 

Octopus, Foie Gras custard, baby beet, rice biscuit, cayenne praline, cabernet vinegar 

90ml Jermann Vinnae 

Southern rock lobster, porcini, sweetbreads, young sorrel, goats cheese, shallot 

90ml Yarra Yarra Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 

Jamòn flavoured marrow ravioli, braised veal shank, “gremolata” 

90ml Speri Valpolicella Classico Superiore ‘Ripasso’ DOC 

Rabbit “in porchetta”, boned and rolled, speck, spices, “agrodolce”, fennel and orange, peas 

90ml Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 

Castricum lamb, bread stuffing, baby artichoke, sweet pepper pastry, peppercorn “salmoriglio” 

90ml Vinea Marson Syrah 

Gelato, a seasonal selection 

Valrhona chocolate soufflé 

campari and orange ice cream and chocolate syrup 

60ml Umani Ronchi Maximo IGT 

Vittoria coffee and pastries 


So many good things. So, so good. But so little time. Eat it all at once, and you run the risk of hallucinations and severe gastro-intestinal trauma. 

See also: Art Fairs