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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

An Expensive Guilt Trip - MONA (Day 169)

Art can be an expensive guilt trip, will it has been for David Walsh, founder of MONA - what an incredible place!

Another tick on our Lonely Planet’s top 500 List today. We are now in Tasmania, the smallest state in Australia. Against the mainland it looks so small, I am embarrassed to say that I thought it was similar in size to the Isle of Wight. In fact, it is 90,758 km², bigger than Austria, Sri Lanka, Portugal and if it was a country in its own right it will be the 112th largest in the world! We arrived at 8 am and picked up our hire car (which has cost us just £71.55 for 5 days! It is from Bargain Rentals!). After getting up so early (4:45 am) we were in need of breakfast…fast and found a nice café Magnolia 73 in Moonah. The owners Rik and Jonathan made us feel very welcome. It always demonstrates a good place when locals pop in and the owners know what their usual order is. Next stop was MONA - Museum of Old and New Art, a private art museum founded by David Walsh to stop him feeling guilty about making millions of dollars as a professional gambler. This place is internationally famous and not only does it have some amazing art, the architecture is superb. This subterranean place is built in the rock face by Berriedale Bay. There are no set pathways, so each turn builds on our curiosity. Tunnels have been burrowed through the rock going down deep into the earth or through to another area. It’s like being in a James Bond movie. In places, the walls are left bare, showing the beauty of this natural material. The whole place is a wonderful eclectic bizarre smorgasbord of creativity. Some examples are: a white bowl with 2 small goldfish swimming with a large knife balancing on the edge; a stunning Grotto with silver walls and silver tiered padded seating, with glass droplet lights – like something from Willie Wonko’s Factory; a platform which looked as if it was going into a void, however, it was surrounded by a pool of black oil which reflected the grid walls and ceiling above (See photo with Tim). Other artworks are “Artifact” by Gregory Barsamian which is a large hollow metal head with small windows, showing the inner of the mind, hands catching apples falling, yellow birds flying and about to crash into antique books that slam shut. The artist uses animation to bring images from the unconscious to life. A red “Fat Car” which was a real Porsche that Erwin Wurm made fat and round, like an overweight rich kid using styrofoam and fibreglass. He wants to challenge the current value system that we are consuming more and more and probes the link between power, wealth and body weight. It’s brilliant the metaphors that some of these artists use to demonstrate issues, encouraging the observer to consider their viewpoints. One of the infamous artworks is “C@nts...and other conversations” by Greg Taylor and friends. I have heard a few people be quite shocked by this, but to be honest, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, it is beautiful. The idea of the installation happened by accident, as many great ideas have such as the post-it note. Greg had sculptured a torso and it exploded when being fired. When he took the pieces out, the vagina was intact and it looked beautiful. He then got over 70 women from all works of life and age to come along and be plaster cast. I think the name is there to shock, however, in an interview, Mr Taylor does say it is just a word. An amusing installation is by Candice Breitz called “Queen (A Portrait of Madonna)” where there is a thirty channel video installation of hardcore Madonna fans singing the great hits album Immaculate. They are singing their hearts out, lots of dramatic actions and emotion…very funny. I hope by now that you can gather that this place is like no other. From some rich dude who is interested in art, he has created a major tourist attraction "a gallery of concrete philosophies", as he describes the museum. You may think that he is now making money with this, however, in 2014 it was costing him A$10m to run the place and the income was about A$4m. That’s an expensive guilt trip.

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