Tag Archives: Visual Arts

MAph Built Photography

Museum of Australian Photography exhibition

An opinion piece about exhibitions, the visual arts, and things. 

Always up for a drive out to the Museum of Australian Photography at Wheelers Hill – in Melbourne, we drove out through the suburban streets (rather than the freeways) for the pleasure of taking in a range of suburbs on the way. The changes of architecture and the various old and new build environments make the journey worth-while.

Continue reading MAph Built Photography

Crace Crowley and Ralph Balson

National Gallery of Victoria exhibition visit

On exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) till 22 Sept 2024 is a beautifully curated exhibition of two fantastic painters who were pivotal in the development of  Australian abstract art. This is a must see – even for those of us who are photographers.
My rating for this exhibition is   😎 😎 😎 😎 😎  (out of 5).

Continue reading Crace Crowley and Ralph Balson

Hair Pieces – Heidi May 2024

A visit to Heidi Museum of Modern Art

A visit to the galleries and gardens at the Heidi Museum of Modern Art remains a recommendation for anyone in Melbourne. The gallery is 30 minutes (more or less) from the CBD and is definitely worth the visit.

Continue reading Hair Pieces – Heidi May 2024

National Gallery of Australia closed galleries

NGA visit with quite a few friends missing

This piece was originally uploaded in May 2023

To more or less quote an art school lecturer, it is great to live in Canberra and to visit the National Gallery to see old friends.

Continue reading National Gallery of Australia closed galleries

Visiting ANU Drill Hall Gallery

This was published originally in August 2022

It was a recent photography exhibition by Catherine Rogers (closed 14th August) that brought home to me what a great space the ANU Drill Hall Gallery is.

Continue reading Visiting ANU Drill Hall Gallery

Visiting the National Gallery in Canberra

When the national Gallery opened in 1988, the exhibitions and their café became frequent destinations – a meeting place for locals, to take in the latest exhibitions while seeing old friends – the fabulous works in the permanent collections. Continue reading Visiting the National Gallery in Canberra

Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe

Inner-south community groups received a curious, but welcomed, phone call on Thursday (November 4) from the communications officer of the ACT Suburban Land Agency (SLA).

Continue reading Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe


Visual Arts Review

Bungaree, The First Australian at The Mosman Art Gallery

Open till 22 February 2015.

bungaree1We travelled along to the Mosman Art Gallery around lunch time one sunny day in early January. The gallery was quiet with no other visitors during our 45 minute visit.

The Bungaree exhibition at the gallery contains works by 16 emerging and established artists who have nominally re-interpreted the stories around Bungaree. The image to the right is of Bungaree.  There are numerous historic paintings of Bungaree.

Continue reading Bungaree

A reviewer has a bad day

Guardian reviewer looses the plot

4a261b89-8b15-4d39-a046-fe5c9dbd243d-805x1020It is not the job a reviewer to write stuff that everyone agrees with. The Guardian has a number of art reviewers and therefore we have a range of opinions. However one would expect any of these reviewers to be making sense.

It has come to pass that one reviewer has been showing signs of stress or something equivalent.

Continue reading A reviewer has a bad day

Enjoying Life in Vienna

Review: Visual Arts

Cosima Von Bonin: Hippies Use Side Door.
The Year 2014 Has Lost The Plot

MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna

picksimg_splashSpoiler alert. Be warned, this exhibition did not excite! Cosima Von Bonin’s latest exhibition is across several floors of the MUMOK and it is impressive. There are loads of cultural references and heaps of barbs at things within our culture, particularly the american culture we have all come to love and loath. It was an interesting experience to visit this massive exhibition.

I took my time – but

Continue reading Enjoying Life in Vienna

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

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

NGA Visual Arts, Motherwell, Natori Shunsen, Contemporary Photography

Review: Visual Arts
Several exhibitions at the NGA

237644-1Our public galleries are places you should visit often, and not just for the big blockbuster exhibitions.

There are many other exhibitions, especially collection exhibitions, that are a wonder to see and enjoy.

Continue reading NGA Visual Arts, Motherwell, Natori Shunsen, Contemporary Photography

John Witzig at National Portrait Gallery

Review: Visual Arts/photography
Exhibition: John Witzig at National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

till 19th October 2014, then touring.

front-P1070002The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra has done itself proud with this special exhibition of photographs produced from the archive of the photographer John Witzig. Full marks to the historian curator, Sarah Engledow.

Continue reading John Witzig at National Portrait Gallery

Annette Messager at the MCA

Review (forecasted): Visual Arts
annette_messager-coverAnnette Messager:  motion/emotion at the MCA Australia (Sydney) till 26 October 2014

Here’s an exhibition that you must see. If you are in Sydney or thinking about going to Sydney, you must allow ample time to wander through and contemplate this exhibition by this extraordinary artist. We were there on Saturday, and it was busy. Today (Sunday) we returned to watch the film and to walk through again. If you have any interest in contemporary art, a visit to the MCA will be worth it! Then go back for a second visit.

There will be a review to follow. Click here. The catalogue is a wonderful production but I suspect it is about to be sold out (I have one).


Paul Costigan, 3 August 2014

Visual artist Jeff Wall

Review: Visual Arts

Review: The imagined tableaux has been a fascinating area of photography from the beginnings of the art form. Personally I place this form of photography as being one of the most enjoyable and engaging forms of photography. Therefore I would always recommend an exhibition by Jeff Wall , no matter how many times you have seen his work previously.

Continue reading Visual artist Jeff Wall

Brisbane, photo-essay

Brisbane, photo-essay

Here are a few photographs taken near the Roma Street Parklands in mid winter 2014. This time of the year makes for wonderful light. Please click on any of the images to enlarge them. I enjoyed this image because of the shadows and the light, the plants were being highlighted, and of course the texture and mass of the rock wall.

P1060315Near Roma Street Parkland entrance, July 2014

Continue reading Brisbane, photo-essay

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.

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

Robyn Stacey

Review: Visual Arts

Guest Relations at Jan Manton Art

I had a chance last week to see Guest Relations, the exhibition of Robyn Stacey in Brisbane. As I had pointed out in my earlier review, it is a show not to be missed.

Click here for my former post.

Click here for words in Art Almanac

Click here for Jan Manton Art.

Click here for Stills Gallery, Sydney.


Paul Costigan, 6 July 2014

Faked, Forgotten, Found

Good News Story: Not everything that is fake, is what it seems

A good news story from the Art Newspaper about  paintings that were destined to shunted off the scene as they were obvious fakes. After some work by clever conservationists, some secrets were revealed and the paintings are in fact highly prized treasures. To featured in an exhibition: Faked, Forgotten, Found.

A good news art story. click here.


Paul Costigan, 29 June 2014

Robyn Stacey

Review: Visual Arts, Photography
Robyn Stacey at Jan Manton, Brisbane
Guest Relations Brisbane


I have stayed in many hotel rooms in many cities and towns. The experience of being in a hotel room, although now it is mostly apartments, is usually enjoyable but always with a tinge of weird. You enter this borrowed space and establish your presence while always being aware of the temporary nature of your stay.

Continue reading Robyn Stacey

FX Harsono at the NGA

Review: Visual Arts
FX Harsono and Writing In The Rain

FXAt the seminar at the National Gallery of Australia, the Indonesian artist FX Harsono made a presentation as an Indonesian of Chinese decent who is now researching and making art about the treatment of the Chinese communities in the early days of the Indonesian republic.

There’s a fantastic video on exhibition in which FX Harsono deals with his Chinese name, in that he is writing it continuously while other forces are washing it away.

Continue reading FX Harsono at the NGA

Ian North on Canberra

Review: Photography
Ian North’s Canberra Suite Series 1981,
Canberra Museum and Gallery 2014
On exhibition: # 6, 11, 12 17, 20,24

It was while visiting the Canberra Gallery for another exhibition that we spotted these six works by the artist/photographer Ian North. On exhibition were colour photographs from Ian’s suite of 24 images, the Canberra Suite Series (1981).

Continue reading Ian North on Canberra

Three Photographs

Review: Photography
Three photographs, three photographers, and the contemplation of the women by women.

It was while visiting the Stills Gallery in Sydney to see the works by Mary Ellen Mark, that I was totally struck by the ambiance of a photograph titled: The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles, California, USA, 1987. (it is reproduced larger below)

Besides the stand out nature of the total composition, the car, the children, the hands around the woman, it was the faces on the mother and the daughter that glued me for much more than the standard time one usually spends with any work in an exhibition. Then I could not help but return to it several times.

Continue reading Three Photographs

Visiting the National Gallery of Victoria

Review: Gallery Visitor Experience
Visiting the National Gallery of Victoria*


One of the unfortunate outcomes of the marketing of our major art galleries is that so much emphasis has been placed on the special and blockbuster exhibitions. This form of marketing may be assisting with budgets, but this success is at the cost of letting people know about the galleries’ own collection exhibitions.

Continue reading Visiting the National Gallery of Victoria

Canberra Visual Arts

Review: Visual Arts
May 2014 Visual Arts Exhibitions at M16 and the CCAS (Canberra)


Once upon time Canberra had heaps visual arts galleries to visit on weekends. Now there are but a few left.  Last weekend I visited two publicly funded visual art spaces; being the M16 Gallery in Griffith and the Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS) in Braddon. I can happily report that things are looking good and suggest you get out there and see for yourself just how both of these are traveling.*

Continue reading Canberra Visual Arts

Sue Ford Photographer at NGV

Review: Visual Arts/ Photography
Sue Ford, The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, April – August 2014

This exhibition of the photography of Sue Ford (1943 – 2009) at the Victorian State Gallery (National Gallery of Victoria*) is a curious one. Click here – for their media statements.

As an opening statement I have to say that I did not find this  exhibition as satisfactory as I had anticipated. Parts of the exhibition worked reasonably well, whereas other sections look as if someone was not sure what to do with the work, or that maybe they did not understand Sue Ford’s work.

Continue reading Sue Ford Photographer at NGV

Neon Lights

Review: Visual Arts

Neon Lights and The Museum of Neon Arts

splash5-02I happen to like all things neon. I have been fascinated by neon lights for years. We have twice visited the Museum of Neon Art in LA; noting that they have moved again to another new home, this time in Glendale. (above)

Pas-Downtown-cafelights-10photo by Paul Costigan, 2002

Here’s a few YouTube presentations on Neon (see below):

Continue reading Neon Lights

Not A Photography Exhibition

Review: Visual Arts
Points of Focus: Historic Photographs from the Pacific

University of Sydney, Macleay Museum

This exhibition is advertised as being of historic photographs from the Pacific spanning a century beginning from the late 1850s. With these words both in advertising and online, the expectations were for an extensive exhibition of photographs of the pacific islands.

Continue reading Not A Photography Exhibition

Angel of the North

Review: Visual Art
Angel of the North at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra


It was just this week that I managed to get myself down the wonderful National Gallery of Australia’s sculpture garden to have a look at the Angel of the North. The piece has been on location for several years. This was the fist time I have seen this piece. Of course, this is the life-size marquette of the original Angel of the North, being about one tenth the size of the original.

Continue reading Angel of the North

Exhibition Catalogue

Review: Visual Arts

The Souvenir Genre, an essay by Mel Campbell on exhibition catalogues, published in Meanjin January 2014.

One aspect of visiting exhibitions is the catalogue. Sometimes we flick through it and sometimes we purchase a copy. The catalogue may be purchased as a souvenir of the exhibition but once away from the exhibition, the publication has a life of its own.

There are several exhibition catalogues in the queue to be reviewed through this blog. The first in line is most likely to be Australia, from the 2013 Royal Academy exhibition in London. This exhibition was partnership with the National Gallery of Australia. There is an interesting story there to come concerning reviews and the response from the NGA as well as an interesting perspective from a Sydney commentator.

Meanwhile here’s a recommended article by Mel Campbell on exhibition catalogues.



Paul Costigan, 4 January 2014

Public Art

Review: Public Art

Sculpture of Ben Chifley and John Curtin, Canberra


I have driven passed this sculptural piece, by Peter Corlett, many many times. The pair of sculptures look very natural on the corner to the extent that I dare say the casual observer and busy drivers may pass by and miss that they are bronze figures. There’s no plinth. They have been attached directly onto the footpath.

Continue reading Public Art

Art Gallery Exhibitions

Review: Visual Arts

An overview of accessing Australia’s major visual art gallery exhibition programs though their websites. Date: Christmas 2013.


This is an overview of what visual arts major art galleries are telling us is available around the country this Christmas. Our major art galleries endeavour to have their local audiences come through the doors. The challenge is to convince someone interested in all manner of visual arts, including photography, to spend some of our discretionary leisure time and dollars to travel (pay airfares and accommodation) to see the collections and special exhibitions.

Continue reading Art Gallery Exhibitions

Monash Gallery of Art

Review: Visual Arts

Claudia Terstappen: In the shadow of change, Monash Gallery of Art

There’s a must see exhibition of landscape photography on at Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne). This gallery is the Home of Australian Photography.

This body of work is an example of an artist expanding the great traditions of photographing our planet. It is obvious from the photographs that Claudia Terstappen has a romantic view of our landscapes and wants us to be positive about appreciating the world around us.

You are urged to set off for the Monash Gallery of Art and allow time to sit and enjoy.

The exhibition closes 26th January 2014 – check the website here.   and ..

Continue reading Monash Gallery of Art


Opinion: About some of the not so nice links that come with sponsorship and funding.

packer2It was this story on CrikeyPacker’s Sydney arts donation a lay-down misere‘ that took me back to discussions I had been involved with over several decades including when we used to debate such issues openly in the arts. In recent years, all sorts of Sydney groups joined the public debates about the horrors of gambling and in this instance campaigned, unsuccessfully, against the granting of the license for a second casino.

As the deal was signed, it was arts organisations in Sydney who had agreed to take money from James Packer as the payment demanded for the granting of the new casino license. James Packer has never shown an interest in the arts.


Continue reading Sponsorship

Sidney Nolan

Review: Visual Arts

The Nolan Collection at the Canberra Museum and Gallery

Canberra has been blessed with two major collections of Sidney Nolan. One is on permanent exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. There is also the important special collection at the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG)


I recommend a visit to the Canberra Museum and Gallery to see this collection (and at times maybe the other exhibits). Although you may have to bring in your own chairs to spend any time in this exhibition. I am not sure who thought that to perch on those silly vinyl foot-stools in the middle of the room would enhance a visit.

Continue reading Sidney Nolan

Art in the Street

Review: Art in the front yard

Canberra 16-17 November 2013

Take a quiet little street in Downer. Local artist Stephen Harrison is a resident. Stephen asks the neighbours if he can take over the street and their front yards for the weekend. They say yes. Stephen then brings in the work of  about three dozen artists. And so a fun weekend arrived……

Continue reading Art in the Street

Photography and The Tableau

Review: Anna Carey – Contemporary Photography

For travelers of urban space and cities, there is nothing more enjoyable as roaming streets and observing both the unusual and the ordinary. In reality most of time the ordinary and the unusual do tend to blend. Anyone who is an observer of street behaviour realises that there is not much that is ordinary about how people behave as they wander, rush or simply promenade about our urban thoroughfares. The streets of our cities are packed with these constantly changing tableaux. The realities are fun to observe as well as those things we conjure up in our imaginations about the buildings and the streets and the parks and the cosmopolitan mix of people.

Continue reading Photography and The Tableau

NGA: Turner from the TATE

Review: Exhibition at the NGA 2013

Turner From The Tate
exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, June – September 2013.

Having visited this exhibition three times while it was in Canberra , once in Adelaide and having five times visited Turner in the Tate in London, I have been contemplating these experiences and offer the following comments as a review.

Continue reading NGA: Turner from the TATE

The Art Gallery

It’s About Seating

The visitor experience – seating


The entry spaces and seating within our major public galleries are not the most user-friendly. For reasons I cannot understand, most of our public art institutions have not made their foyers friendly spaces so that it could be easy to meet up and to have that initial chat before moving off to see what there is to enjoy.

Continue reading The Art Gallery

William Eggleston

Review: Book (and exhibition)

William Eggleston, Paris, 2009

I like William Eggleston’s photographs. Big Time!

I purchased this book having seen London exhibition by William Eggleston in January 2010. The exhibition had more recent work than was in the book. It was great.

The book I purchased later and have just been looking through it again. I also took out a copy of the 1976 William Eggleston’s Guide. I was fascinating to read the essay by John Szarkowski after all these years. He mentioned Kodachromes; wonder how many remember what they were? The essay still makes for a good read.

Continue reading William Eggleston

Richard Avedon

Exhibition Review

Richard Avedon at National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
August – November  2013

Claude and Paloma Picasso.Christopher Chapman of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra is to be congratulated for curating this exhibition of a diverse range of Richard Avedon’s work.

For people not too familiar with his work, it is a great introduction to the scope of photography produced by this famous artist.


Continue reading Richard Avedon

Public Art Altered

Art in Public Places

Comment on altering a piece of public art

ANU Public Art: Dadang Christanto.  Witness, 2004

The ANU has wonderful array of public art throughout their very nice campus.

One of my favourite pieces has been surrounded by fence.

I visited the site today and walked around and pondered:

Why the fence? Its presence just did not make sense.

Here’s a link to more on this topic, and more photos

Let me know if you can throw any light on this mystery.


Paul Costigan, October 2013


Exhibition Review

Adrienne Doig at Martin Browne Contemporary
September – October 2013

Adrienne Doig at Martin Browne Contemporary

I was introduced to Adrienne’s current work when visiting the 2013 contemporary art fair in Sydney in September.

I was intrigued. Her use of eBay purchased embroided patchwork struck a chord and I was hoping to see more soon.

The next day we were wandering over to see another exhibition when we realised  we were near to Martin Browne Contemporary and took the chance to see if her work was on exhibition. It was and I was again very interested. Continue reading Splendid

Spirit Landscapes

Exhibition Review
Spirit Landscapes, Tracey Moffatt

Roslyn Oxley Gallery, Sydney, September 2013

I like a lot of Tracey Moffatt’s work and have seen quite a lot of it over the years. Some of her more recent works have been mixed and my jury is still out on whether they are great works. In most cases they no longer are photographs as they are mixed media usually based on some photographic manipulations. Continue reading Spirit Landscapes

National Portrait Gallery

Review: Urbanity

A work in progress – reviewing the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra

The National Portrait Gallery of Australia opened in 2009 to much acclaim. This national cultural institution has become a very popular tourist destination. The gallery sits in amongst trees in the National Parliamentary Triangle alongside the National Gallery of Australia and the High Court of Australia.

While I have seen nothing but praise for the building, I beg to differ.  Particularly when talking about the outside of the building and how it ‘sits in the landscape’. More on that later.

Continue reading National Portrait Gallery

CITY of Trees

Review: Visual Arts

City of Trees, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 5 July – 7 October 2013

This review originally published  August 2013

One lazy Saturday afternoon I took myself over to the National Library of Australia. I had read all the advertising and was very much looking forward to an exhibition on the trees of Canberra.

Any exhibition that focused on the trees of Canberra has to be something to see, something to talk about, and something that would be most embraced.

P1010530the entrance with two light boxes   

In short, this one did none of those things for this reviewer. This exhibition in this prestigious national library exhibition space just left me wondering just what happened. Did the exhibition curators sign up a feel good Centenary Exhibition about one of the core features of the national capital; its fabulous trees. And then the pieces arrived and there was nothing to do but to make a good show of it. In this case it has been well laid out with all the usual fine aesthetics of good curatorship. But the content is just not there.

Continue reading CITY of Trees