(Ainslie's Sheep: Les Kossatz 2001)
This is the second post I have prepared for Vision and Verb this week. I used to be indecisive, and now I am not sure...
I live in Canberra, our nation's capital. Canberra has famously been described as 'a good sheep station, spoiled'. It is also widely condemned as boring. With a capital B. Arguable, but a persistent story.
Last weekend we went to see a very controversial artwork take to the sky, which I posted about with many, many photos here. That artwork started me thinking (again) about what my city has to offer - its residents and/or visitors. Our environment is beautiful. Anywhere in the city, there is natural bush less than half an hours drive away. We have kangaroos and many, many wild birds living in the suburbs. We nestle into a ring of hills and have several lakes to enjoy. We have an excellent National Gallery, and an equally impressive Portrait Gallery. We have museums, theatres, choirs, ballet and libraries. Our last Chief Minister was strongly committed to public art, and we have a LOT of it. In the centre of town (which is where Ainslie's Sheep live) there is at least one sculpture and/or mural on every block. Which I think is wonderful.
However, not everyone agrees with me. Each time a new piece of art is installed the complaints start to fly. 'It is ugly'. 'It costs too much'. 'Who chose that'... Sometimes the complaints degenerate into personal attacks about the taste, intelligence and integrity of the politicians who commissioned the work and sadly sometimes the artists are also attacked. Which I think is sad and bad. And short-sighted. And silly.
Yes, all this art costs money. Some years we have spent as much as ten dollars for each person who lives in the city on public art work. Shock and horror. Some of it is confronting, but much of it is beautiful, quirky or just plain fun. Certainly I don't like all of it, and some of it I don't understand either. Just the same, I love that it is there. My world is enriched by it. Each and every piece of it. Walking through town I smile and nod to familiar pieces like Ainslie's Sheep and enjoy the additional vibrancy they bring to the city, and to my world.
A boring city? If you keep your eyes, your heart and your mind shut it probably is.