Norman Mailer thought that any astronaut brave enough to bring back a chunk of the Moon as a souvenir would open themselves up to howling, mysterious events emanating from whichever shoe closet the chunk was consigned to. The Moon is undeniably powerful and cryptic.
Robert Graves regarded the first lunar landing as a ‘profanation of the Moon’, and described the whole business as ‘the dirtiest most depressing act since Alexander cut the Sacred Jovian Knot to assert that the sword was mightier than the soul.’
I think Mailer may be more right than Graves. Yes, the lunar landings explained some of the Moon’s secrets, but perhaps uncovered more. It seems to me we understand very little, for example, of its effect on emotions. Buzz Aldrin’s impatient soul, his flashing eyes and floating hair could, I suggest, only be explained by having spent time on the surface of the Moon.
I have a little statute of Buzz on my bookshelf – a small salute to a remarkable physical and metaphysical journey.
I did a small sketch in Hobart of the jutting, jarring prow of the Antarctic research ship Aurora Australis. The ship is painted a brilliant vermillion for safety reasons, but the colour also exercises a hypnotic charm on painters. Here is the much larger oil painting I’ve done from the earlier sketch.
This painting is going to be hung in the Frankston Art Centre Open Exhibition, from 10 to 31 August, in the Cube Gallery at 27-37 Davey Street, Frankston.
I also have a small painting (of a silver cup and mandarin) in the Brunswick Street Gallery Small Works Exhibition, which is on until 16 August, at 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Red post boxes decorate the street better than email.
Some of the things Britain bequeathed to Australia: heavy breakfasts; ludicrously large and hot roast lunches at Christmas (in the middle of summer!); cricket; the common law; rabbits; judges in wigs (in the middle of summer!); and red pillar post boxes. Of these, perhaps the post boxes are the best. This one is just around the corner.
Canberra is full of embassies in national dress. The US embassy looks like a Southern mansion, the South African embassy looks like a prosperous farm house, the Papua New Guinea embassy looks (rather magnificently) like a traditional longhouse, the Indian embassy looks like a moghul palace, etc. etc.. It runs the risk of looking kitsch or like a collection of rather grand theme restaurants, but it doesn’t.
One of my favourites is the Chinese embassy. As it is right next to Lake Burley Griffin, it is often shrouded in fog and looks like Kublai Khan did a stately pleasure-dome decree. Here is what it looked like one freezing morning from Lennox Gardens.
I understand that the French do not call french doors french doors. So, this is the view through the porte-fenêtre on a midwinter’s night.
Melbourne is a big city and can look a little grim in parts. However – and I still can’t quite believe this – it is possible to be alone on the banks of a quiet, bush-lined river within a few kilometres of the city centre. It’s a very big secret, so please don’t tell anyone.
Abbotsford Convent is a sort of arts enclave right next to the truly wonderful Collingwood Children’s Farm. All of this is very close to the river, and not very far from the city. But, remember, it’s a secret.
This is a corner of Abbotsford Convent late in the afternoon as the sun was beginning to disappear behind the trees.