Category Archives: cultural

The curatorial crypt

The sale price of a Singapore photograph, by G R Lambert

lambert-bannerWith the recent growth interest in South Eastern Asian photography, prices of historic photographs have been rising significantly. Gael Newton, having departed from the National Gallery of Australia in late 2014, has continued her research and curatorial interests in South East Asian photography. She has recently written a post on her observations of a particular sale. click here.


Book Review

Canberra, Paul Daley, 2012

canberra-paul-daleyThis is small book is another in the city series published by Newsouth (University of NSW). I have previously reviewed Hobart (click here) and Adelaide (click here). Paul Daley has told a set of stories about Canberra, the National Capital. Sadly he seems to not have invested the time to gather local knowledge about the city, its people, its life style and its complexities as a 21st Century city of 380,000 people.

Continue reading Canberra

A Photograph

Photography: Things that puzzle


This small barrier was erected in the foyer of a mall we passed through most days to get to our apartment hotel in Singapore. The sign says – Work In Progress.

During the whole week that the installation sat there nothing happened around, above or anywhere near it. To this day I wonder whether someone put it there as a joke and as it looked official, it remained in place and undisturbed. It was still there the day we left Singapore. Or was it in fact an artwork – an artistic installation?


Paul Costigan

Architectural Wonders

Comment: architectural eyesores and failures

rmitWhen it comes to architectural eyesores and mistakes, there are many. They are not mentioned by the professions.

Once when attending a conference on green roofs, an architect told the story of his first major green roof project. All sounded impressive, until he casually mentioned how it failed and that water penetrated the top floor of the office building.

Continue reading Architectural Wonders

The Jet Pack

Announcement: Bad News for Dreamers

Will we ever see the Jet Pack?

19_30_jet-pack-thunderball-1965-sean-connery1I read an article in The Guardian that set out in great detail the sad news for those of us who have been brought up with the promise that one day we would be able to fly using a Jet Pack. I think the original promise was in the same category as the promise that one day, with all the new technologies, we would have the paperless office.

Continue reading The Jet Pack

Dickson Parklands

Opinion Piece: The Case for the Dickson Parklands

The Dickson Community Cultural Parklands

The debate has commenced within the communities around the Dickson Parklands, previously referred to Section 72 Dickson, as to how the whole site could become a parklands with an integrated set of community cultural facilities that connect to the surrounding communities.


Continue reading Dickson Parklands

section 72 Dickson – the future

An Opinion Piece

The Future of Dickson Section 72 as a Community and Cultural Site

The Dickson Community Cultural Parklands.


I wrote a piece yesterday about the disappointment expressed by residents about the manner in which the ACT Government is dealing with the local communities over the future of the community site officially known as Section 72 Dickson. Click here.

Continue reading section 72 Dickson – the future

Lucinda Williams

First Listen:  Lucinda Williams

Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

20140927_lucinda-williams-down-where-spirit-meets-bone_91I have downloaded and listen to this album just the once. I have read quite a bit about this latest gem from Lucinda but was prevented from listening to it earlier due to some international travel and an online problem I was experiencing. But all this was solved at last this afternoon and I have been sitting here, with headphones on, making my way through this wonderful album. If you have not already gathered, this is a great album.

Continue reading Lucinda Williams

Richard Tuttle at the Tate Modern

Comment on reviewing of the visual arts

tuttletate_3070458bThere have been many occasions when I visited an exhibition of contemporary visual arts, particularly those of the conceptual installation art version, and I have left with little satisfaction or a memory of strong engagement.  To be positive, there have been many great pieces I have seen in this genre.

Continue reading Richard Tuttle at the Tate Modern

Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Comment: Architects realise something is wrong with cities

rmitJust read a short article about how an architect at the world architecture festival stated that something has gone wrong with the design of our cities!

Wow! Now there’s a revelation from the profession largely responsible for the problem.

Continue reading Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Singapore Photography

Review: Visual Arts and Photography

Still Moving at Singapore Art Museum (SAM) 8Q

till 8 February 2015

P1070637image from opening night – by Paul Costigan

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is presently exhibiting three exhibitions in 8Q, its special annex located on Queens Street around the corner from SAM’s main building. The exhibition is a triple bill made up of three exhibitions that occupy the whole of the building’s exhibition spaces.

Continue reading Singapore Photography

Alex Seton

Announcement: Visual Arts Exhibition

Alex Seton, Refoulement at Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney till 11 October 2014

7031495740This Sullivan+ Strumpf exhibition of sculptures by Alex Seton is very worth your while to make the time and visit the gallery in Sydney.

He was recently a major artist at the Adelaide Biennale and his earlier photographs are presently in an exhibition at the National Gallery in Canberra.

Continue reading Alex Seton

Architecture Eyesores

Commentary: Architecture Basket Cases

rmitI love the joy of good architecture, being both places and buildings. There is something really wonderful when you experience the enjoyment of good design. However there are other contributions that simply take your breath away for all the wrong reasons!

Here are a couple of gems.

Continue reading Architecture Eyesores

Hack Attack Nick Davies

2nd Notice: New Book
Hack Attack by Nick Davies

hack-attackJust to remind you that this book is worth reading. Sadly the ending is a bit depressing in that Nick considers the power elite have reshuffled a little but carry on a s before.

It has also been interesting to read the story of Rebecca Brooks. The question has been posed elsewhere, was she just a user of the corporate and political systems in order to climb the ladder to join the ranks of those in power?

Continue reading Hack Attack Nick Davies

Maria Wern

Review: TV series on DVD
Marie Wern, series on DVD – seven episodes

maria_wern_2I have to admit that I had not heard of the Swedish island of Gotland. Having now watched four of the Swedish seven episodes of Marie Wern, I have had to get online and do research on this Swedish island, situated in the gulf to the east of Sweden. Want to know more about Gotland? – click here.

This is a good series. Recommended.

Continue reading Maria Wern

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Review: Landscape

Guilfoyle’s Volcano at Melbourne Botanic Gardens


This is a job well done. I saw an article about this and was determined to have a look. Now if only those promoting it had been sensible and given an address.

Continue reading Melbourne Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Ruth Waller at Nancy Sever Gallery Canberra

Notice: Local Visual Arts Gallery
Ruth Waller at Nancy Sever Gallery, Kingston, Canberra

Ruth WallerA note that the Nancy Sever Gallery, in Kingston, is worth putting on you list for gallery visits.

We attended a crowded opening there tonight for the opening of Ruth Waller’s exhibition of recent paintings. Can I say that I would love to talk more about the art, but it was very difficult to see given the crowd. That’s why I often avoid openings and get along later.

Continue reading Ruth Waller at Nancy Sever Gallery Canberra

Annette Messager at the MCA Sydney

Review (2nd): Visual Arts
Annette Messager:  motion/emotion at the MCA Australia (Sydney) till 26 October 2014


We were fortunate to have a business reason to be in Sydney for the Monday, so allowed ample time on the weekend to get down to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) on beautiful circular Quay to see this once in a lifetime exhibition of Annetta Messager’s artworks. It was definitely worth the trip. We loved it so much we went back the next day for a revisit.

Continue reading Annette Messager at the MCA Sydney

NGA Senior Curator of Photography

Shaune Lakin, The New NGA Senior Curator of Photography

John GollingsAt the end of an exhibition seminar in August at the Monash Gallery of Art, we witnessed the NGA Senior Curator of Photography, Gael Newton (finishing September) , handing on the baton and all the challenges to her replacement, the new NGA Senior Curator of Photography (from October), Shaune Lakin (previously The MGA Director).

Continue reading NGA Senior Curator of Photography

The Eagle A Crime Odyssey

Review: TV on DVD
The Eagle A Crime Odyssey, TV 2004 – 2006, now out on DVD

The Eagle1This is another nordic television series. This pre-dates The Bridge and several others now well-known. According to other online news the series has been shown a couple of times on SBS in Australia and was very popular. I actually chanced upon it and settled back to watch and became impressed very quickly. It is good. We liked this a lot.

Continue reading The Eagle A Crime Odyssey

Natural Architecture

Comment: Landscape Art

sanctuaryOne of my many puzzles has been why within Australia, with all the diversity of natural landscapes, do we not see much landscape art.

What I mean by that are artworks that actually are designed in the landscape or at least using natural materials to be in the landscape. There’s an article online about an architect who works with nature. click here.


for more on architecture – click here

Paul Costigan, 20 August 2014

Embassy Architecture – Solomon Islands

Review: Embassy Architecture in Canberra

The Solomon Islands High Commission1-solomonP1060929I spotted this example of successful embassy architecture as I was driving past to have lunch at the Beaver Gallery Cafe in Deakin. From the available online information (and there’s not much) I think these new buildings for the High Commission for the Solomon Islands were completed around 2011/2012.

Continue reading Embassy Architecture – Solomon Islands

Public Art City of Sydney 2

Reviewing City of Sydney’s public art commissions

1406603825907.jpg-300x0I had previously posted about the City of Sydney’s announcements for three new works for Sydney’s public spaces. click here.

I have just read online the views of the Crikey urbanist, Alan Davies. There’s a lot more to say about this guy’s reviews and some of his strange views on urban issues . He has some serious problems! More on some of his comments later – watch this space. Continue reading Public Art City of Sydney 2

Andrew Leigh and a new book

Notice: New Book
The Economics of Just About Everything: The Hidden Reasons for Our Curious Choices and Surprising Successes in Life.
Andrew Leigh, 2014

resized_9781743314715_224_297_FitSquareMy review will have to follow once I have a copy and have read it. Having received notice of the book, I have been checking several comments online, and knowing Andrew Leigh’s early writings and books, I feel very confident that this will be another good read.

Here is some text copied from the publisher’s site:

Continue reading Andrew Leigh and a new book

Wind Power and Heritage

Comment: Wind Power aesthetics


Recently a colleague expressed doubts about how he viewed a new wind farm that appeared in a landscape that he and his son loved to escaped into when time allowed. While he is totally committed to alternative energy, the issue he was working through was that the wind farm challenged his aesthetics, or to be more accurate he was still having trouble accepting them in this landscape that had been part of his memory since childhood.

Continue reading Wind Power and Heritage

The Monthly on Supermarkets

The duopoly of supermarkets in Australia

8061542291243433879There is a very hard-hitting article in the August 2014 issue of The Monthly on how the two large supermarkets have been allowed to rip anyone and everyone off. Even more depressing is that it points to how we, as consumers,  are continuing to allow this to happen.

The major point raised by the article is how this dominance of the two of these supermarkets has reduced the food security in this country.

Continue reading The Monthly on Supermarkets

Trees and sustainable settlements

Comment on the Art of Trees



I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it.

Continue reading Trees and sustainable settlements

Gender Inequity in Galleries

Confronting art world sexism

From an article by Jori Finkel in the Art Newspaper:

art-newspaperIn New York, Sperone Westwater comes in at 91 versus nine. Team Gallery at 85 versus 15; Matthew Marks at 84 versus 16, and Mary Boone at 83 versus 17. Some of the top galleries in Los Angeles tell a similar story: Blum & Poe is 89 versus 11; Prism is 88 versus 12; Thomas Solomon is 85 to 15, and Patrick Painter is 83 to 17.

Click here for the article.

Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Review: Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
Part Two: The Urban Development Atrocities


The Queensland state government spent millions on the Roma Street Parklands. This parkland was set to add huge value to any apartments built around its edges. One would have thought that the City would have insisted on at least some higher levels of design for such buildings. Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part One

Review: Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
Part One: It is about creative Garden Design


I first visited these gardens and parklands back in 2004 and was very impressed then. This parkland project was a major commitment by the then state government to re-develop a former industrial site and to join it to the existing Albert Park to form one larger parkland, the Roma Street Parklands. I highly recommend anyone and everyone visiting Brisbane to allocate at least an hour to wander about these parklands ten minutes or more away from the Brisbane CBD. (click on any image to enlarge it)

Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part One

Unloved Art

Comment: Visual Arts
The debate about getting rid of previously loved artworks

The debate over what different people, institutions and township are doing with their formerly treasured artworks by Rolf Harris has been sad to watch. This style of artwork was always more of a populist marketing campaign. His art was and remains simplistic and very ordinary at best.

I was a little shocked when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen. Continue reading Unloved Art

Harvest at GOMA

Review: Visual Arts
Harvest: Art, Film + Food at the Queensland Art Gallery – GOMA

productOur public galleries have wonderful collections. Collection exhibitions are often overlooked by the public as the marketing foolishly concentrates on the block busters and special exhibitions. This is a shame as the collection exhibitions are wonderful.

I welcomed the opportunity to visit Harvest: Art, Film + Food. To see this mix of art was indeed a welcomed experience. Continue reading Harvest at GOMA

2014 World Architecture Awards

Comment: World Architecture Festival Awards

53b6e562c07a80a343000206_shortlist-announced-for-the-world-architecture-festival-awards-2014_montage-530x387The 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards shortlisted projects have been listed online. It makes for an interesting read.

I have provided two links below. One with categories only  – which means you have click-through to see more. The other is the full list. A number of Australian projects have been listed, including The National Botanic Gardens – these I have reviewed (click here) , so I will say no more.

Continue reading 2014 World Architecture Awards

Terra Nullius and Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott offers his perspective on indigenous ownership


click on the image above (Courteous of Independent Australia)

The Prime Minister of Australia sees the original take over of the indigenous lands, which were then viewed being viewed as Terra Nullius, as being a British foreign investment!


Paul Costigan, 5th July 2014

100 Canberra Houses

Review: Book
100 Canberra Houses: A Century of Capital Architecture / by Tim Reeves and Alan Roberts

100Houses-0This book about housing in Canberra is welcomed by those amongst us who would love to see more good design in the provision of houses in Canberra. Much of Canberra, as with most places internationally, is presently being devastated with loads of new badly designed suburbs as well as very awful blocks of cheaply rendered apartments being foisted on the older inner suburbs. The authors of this book are to be congratulated for illustrating that the architecture for residential properties can be something to be enjoyed.

Continue reading 100 Canberra Houses

Canberra Architecture

Review: Book
Canberra Architecture, Andrew Metcalf
Watermark Architectural Guides, 2003

CanberraI picked up this book quiet a while ago but it is only now that I have had time to look through it. I am glad I did, as after reading through quite a bit of it, I have become more aware that Canberra has a reasonable amount of good and notable architecture.

I have a quiet interest in good architecture and have spent some energies complaining about the current crop of badly designed houses and commercial buildings being thrust onto Canberra. Residents have despaired that good design in our civic areas and suburbs has become a thing of the past.

Continue reading Canberra Architecture

Francesco’s Shakespeare in Italy

Review: TV on DVD
Francesco’s Shakespeare in Italy

714491The BBC has commissioned a number of series about Italy in various guises. For several of these they employed Francesco da Mosto. Shakespeare in Italy is the most recent of these with Francesco da Mosto in the presenters role. What you end up with an armchair traveller’s tour of parts of Italy, some good tales about the connections between Shakespeare and Italy, and to top it off we are entertained with performances by Francesco da Mosto.

Continue reading Francesco’s Shakespeare in Italy

Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One


There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

Continue reading Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Our Dog Shakey

The problems with our new dog Shakey

shakey-P1050447We live in a street that is inhabited by many dogs. Nearly every neighbour, near and far, has a pooch.

Most of these animals are quiet. Full credit to their owners. But we have the honour of having a couple that do let their presence be known with some barking. I have posted before about not so nice dogs and their owners. (click here) Continue reading Our Dog Shakey

Clive James

from the Conversation
Clive James on death, dragons and writing in the home stretch

4fh6nk9q-1401790169One wonders how Clive James would react to the realities of attitudes within Australia today. His illnesses have restricted him to staying close to his hospital which has meant he will not be coming home for a last visit. Therefore he has to revisit Australia through his memories.

Eureka Henrich has provided a piece on Clive’s presentation at the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts at King’s College London. His appearance there surprised everyone simply as his illnesses are so restricting to his travel. Click here for the piece.

Architecture Marketing

Review: Architecture Exhibition
Architecture Marketing and
The Iconic Australian Houses at Museum of Sydney till 17 August 2014


Over the years I have ventured into many exhibitions on Australian architecture. Most have been so badly put together that to call them boring is an understatement. This is not to say that the architecture is the problem, it is clearly that bodies such as the Institute of Architects know how to talk themselves but have little idea of how to market to the wider general public.

Continue reading Architecture Marketing

Prince Alfred Park Sydney

Review: Inner city park/ Prince Alfred Park
The redevelopment of Prince Alfred Park Sydney


It should always be celebrated when a city council looks after its city parks.  The property and development lobbies of this world see these public spaces as potential for profit-making development sites and would be always on hand to lobby for any reduction such public open spaces. Prince Alfred Park in Surrey Hills in Sydney has just benefited from a wise city council that has invested in some upgrades on this fabulous inner city parkland.

Continue reading Prince Alfred Park Sydney

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin

Comment: A memorial for Walter and Marion

Christopher-VernonSeveral months back there was an article by Christopher Vernon, of the University of Western Australia, putting forward the background and argument for a permanent memorial in Canberra for Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Click here for that article.

There are various things scattered around Canberra that tell their story.

Continue reading Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin

Harry Hobbs on Queensland 2

Opinion: Under the Oak Tree: Institutional Reform in the Deep North
An article by Andrew Trotter and Harry Hobbs

max-P1020481Strong institutions are a prerequisite to good governance and a critical aspect of the rule of law.

The independence of a legally qualified judiciary and the transparency and accountability of government are the cumulative result of many centuries of progress.

Continue reading Harry Hobbs on Queensland 2

University Urbanity

Review: Campus Design
A review of new architecture and spaces within the ANU (Australian National University) Part One


Across Australia there are stand out examples of campus design amongst many of our universities. In more recent years I have had reason to visit campuses in all the states and back here in Canberra and have been constantly impressed with some of the architectural and landscape work.  In most cases I have been positively impressed with the work and in others I have been taken aback.

Continue reading University Urbanity

Art As Therapy NGV

Review: Visual Arts Book
Art as Therapy: Works from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

Art-as-Therapy-bookThis soft cover book is the guide for the special labels placed around the State Art Gallery of Victoria’s St Kilda Road Venue.

As a first comment I have to say that I was disappointed and was in fact a little taken aback by the style and contents. I am not so sure about how this effort enhances the gallery visit within the NGV*.

Continue reading Art As Therapy NGV

Abbott & Hockey rip apart Australian arts

Response to the Abbott & Hockey ripping apart of Australia

rabbitt01As reported in a few places in the media, the cultural sector in Australia has been dragged backwards by George Brandis stripping away all the support gains of the last decade.

This travesty has been reported here in the Guardian, and also from the ABC,  as well as here in The Conversation.

However there is another worry…

Continue reading Abbott & Hockey rip apart Australian arts

Sydney Botanic Gardens Threat

An Open Letter to the Honorable Mr Paul Keating
about the proposed redevelopments within The Sydney Botanic Gardens.


If I were to write to the former Prime Minister about the Sydney Botanic Gardens Master Plan consultations, I would most likely say:

Dear Mr Keating,

I am writing in response to news articles reporting on your comments to the proposals being canvassed as part of the Master Plan for Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.

Continue reading Sydney Botanic Gardens Threat

Joe Hockey for Coal

Opinion: The Australia’s Treasurer’s anti climate statements

Even when you know you have one of the most stupid governments on earth, it is still amazing when the Australian Government’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says wind turbines ‘utterly offensive’!


Read the article: click here

But wait! we have the solution for Joe. Let’s get rid of those horrible things on the horizon.

Continue reading Joe Hockey for Coal

Harry Hobbs on QueensLand

Opinion: A comment on Moving Backwards in Queensland
An article by Harry Hobbs

crown-sheepSince taking office in 2012, the Attorney-General for Queensland and Minister for Justice, Jarrod Bleijie MP has made a conscious effort to reintroduce symbols of the monarchy.

Queensland’s own Glorious Revolution has seen Senior Counsels replaced with Queen’s Counsels, the new government logo replaced with the traditional Coat-of-Arms, the new law courts named the reigning British Monarch, and a political fight over the royal succession laws.

Continue reading Harry Hobbs on QueensLand

Brisbane Ugly Part Six

Urbanity: More on comments by Alain de Botton, Part Six of Six

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Part Six of Six  – some final words

See previous:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five


Brisbane definitely would not win any ‘most attractive city award’.

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part Six