When you grow up in Perth, it is not unusual to hear people saying that they’re, ‘Going down south for the weekend’. ‘Down south’ in that case, refers to the Dunsborough/Margaret River/Yallingup area which is around 4 hours drive south of Perth.
Here in Victoria, being as it is, on the bottom of the continent, it’s not something you often hear…but I’d like see us start to use it in relation to heading to Tasmania for the weekend. It’s about the only place you can go, south of Victoria!
Last year, for The Poolboy’s birthday, I gave him a trip to Hobart, especially to visit MONA at Berriedale. For one reason and another, we didn’t end up going last year…so ever the thrifty Scot (one-generation removed) I re-gifted it this year.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula just outside the main part of Hobart. It was set up by self-made millionaire gambling entrepreneur David Walsh and houses works from his extensive art collection. It is the largest privately funded museum in Australia and represents a massive investment in bricks-and-mortar art philanthropy not often seen in Australia.
MONA is worth visiting for the architecture of the building alone. It was designed by Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis and is built over three levels, right into the limestone cliffs.
Inside, the museum presents antiquities, modern and contemporary art all juxtaposed in edgy gallery spaces. It has been described by David Walsh himself, as a “subversive adult Disneyland.”
I don’t want to say too much about what’s inside, as half of the enjoyment of a visit to MONA is discovering it all yourself.
Inside MONA, there are no labels on the walls next to artworks, instead you are issued with what they call ‘The O’ which is essentially an iTouch. You use it to read about artworks, get extra information and/or listen to interviews with the artists. As you walk around you can vote (Love/Hate) on each artwork and instantly see what percentage of visitors agree with you. You can also register your email address as you start, and it then tracks your visit, emailing you an Internet link to use the following day to view all the information about the artworks you were interested in, and also the ones you missed.
One of the main advantages of The O technology, is that you don’t experience those shuffling lines along the walls that you would normally get in galleries, as everyone lines up to read the (tiny) information card and then shuffles on past the artwork itself. At MONA, people tend to roam organically, reading information on The O in the middle of the galleries and then wandering over for a closer look at the artwork itself.
There are certainly aspects of the exhibits contained at MONA that some may find confrontational or challenging, however the only artwork I actually found offensive was Cloaca Professional by Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye. And I found that work literally offensive in an olfactory sense. Google it. You’ll see what I mean.
Interestingly, the sculpture above is also by Wim Delvoye, and it was probably one of my favourite pieces.
And that’s the beauty of MONA. Contradictions, juxtapositions and an element of surprise.
So worth a trip down south to see it.