Thursday, 27 November 2014

National Gallery of Victoria - The Ancient World to the Renaissance

Look, I'm probably not going to suggest that this is the largest art gallery in Australia, but it is certainly larger than the Art Gallery of New South Wales (or at least has a much larger collection) and this is only the international collection (I believe the Australian art is located elsewhere). The other thing that stands out is that the NGV is not a traditional art gallery. Most art galleries that I have visited tend to only have paintings and sculptures in their collections, however the NGV throws in items such as furniture and dinner sets. This is not surprising because if you look at a collection of art from Ancient Greece you will see a lot of dinner sets (and vases, and drinking horns).
One of the things I like about this place is that the foyer always has something different inside. The first time I came here (in recent times that is, and that was to see an exhibition of Monet paintings) there was a pool with plates floating in it:

Since it is in an art gallery, I guess you can call it art.

The next time I came here the foyer was full of florescent polar bears:
Flourescent Polar Bears
For some reason, I really don't find polar bears all that scary
This time it was a carousel, which I must admit was pretty ordinary (despite there being a line up so that people could sit in it, not that it functioned like a carousel because it didn't gracefully turn in a circle as you would expect a carousel to do).

NGV Carousel
Why is this so interesting?
However, I didn't come here to simply check out the foyer, but to once again wonder around the collection and become immersed in the wonderful world of art.
The largest collection is of European Art, ranging from the 14th century to the modern day. There is also a smaller collection of Asian art and some artifacts from the Ancient World and Meso-America. However, it was the European collection that is of the greatest interest to me at the time (simply because the Greek and Roman section can be passed through in less than ten minutes). Here you can walk through the collection, starting at the 14th Century, and watch how art developed over the centuries. As I also suggested, there is furniture and crockery in the collection, so you can see the development of manufactured goods as well. Mind you, it is a shame that the Greco-Roman collection is off on its own because the art of the Ancient World does have a significant influence on European Art during and after the Renaissance.
Mind you, I'm not convinced that every Grecian pot or plate was painted and I suspect that it was only the upper classes that could afford such items, however if you look at the vases you will notice that they all contain images from mythology:
Grecian Urns
Any excuse for some pictures of ancient pottery
The other important aspect of the ancient world are the sculptures. I have always suggested that Greco-Roman sculptures were incredibly lifelike and thanks to the ancient sculptors we have a very good idea of what many of the famous people of the Greco-Roman world looked like. However my friend then proceeded to point out to me that many of the sculptures idealise the subject, meaning that sculptor would create an image without any of the subject's flaws, in much the same way that we use photoshop to remove the flaws from models today (though I suspect that artists have been doing that for centuries).
There is a but of a jump from the Greco-Roman art to the European collection because much of the European collection begins in the late Middle Ages. The thing about Medieval art is that it is pretty much entirely Christian - the most popular by far being the Madonna and Child (I think I counted at least five):

Three Madonna and Childs
There is also this one, but due to copyright issues I will just use the link.
What I found fascinating though was the depiction of Jesus. Somewhere down the track somebody decided to typecast him has being a white man with long hair and a beard:

Jesus Statue
There must be some debate regarding this statue
I could be wrong, but doesn't that conjure up the image of a hippy?

Well, okay, maybe not

My friend suggested that initially Jesus was portrayed as having short hair and being clean shaven, which no doubt was the trend in Rome at the time, but something changed which resulted in the image that has persisted over fifteen hundred years.
The other thing I noticed about the religious art was how the clothing of the characters that were not Jesus were all contemporary. Take for instance this altar-board from Belgium displaying the feeding of the five thousand. Notice that Jesus (if you can spot him) is his traditional long haired bearded self, yet the disciples are all dressed as Medieval monks, and the rest of the five thousand are all dressed as contemporary Flems.

Feeding of the Five Thousand Flemish Altarboard
I guess they did not have modern archaeological techniques
The Renaissance brought about a massive change to the art world as while religious depictions continued to be painted (and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a testament to that), artists began to branch out more taking in scenes from Greco-Roman mythology. In fact Ovid proved to be a very popular inspiration for many of these paintings, and there are plenty of paintings (and sculptures) displaying the story of Apollo and Daphne, Cupid and Psyche, and Diana and Acteaon (and since most of those paintings involve nudity, I will not be posting them on this blog).

Odysseus and the sirens
Okay, it is not exactly a Renaissance painting
The other thing that artists began to do was to paint portraits of living people. As you wonder around the gallery one wonders how some of these portraits were painted as they don't just involve adults, but families, and sometimes even animals. The suggestion that has been passed on to me is that the artist would sketch the outline, make notes of the colours to be used, and then go away and finish the painting elsewhere. Sure, we have seen skits where the subject stands in a pose, and the artist does the 'thumbs up' while painting the subject, but I suspect the reality is substantially different. Anyway, since many of these artists would also paint religious and mythological pieces, no doubt they were able to sketch a human without a subject from which they could model the piece (though, on the other hand, they probably did use models).
While I could write a lot more here, I think I will bring it to an end, since I can always go back another time, get some more inspiration, and write another piece on another aspect of the artistic world. However, I would like to finish with a couple of more things. The first is that there were rooms that were full of items that had come out of factories in the late 18th and early 19th centuries:

Wedgewood Vases
I'm still not convinced that this is art
Personally, I am not sure if I can consider something that was produced by the Wedgwood Factory to be art. Go into your local two-dollar shop and you will find lots of nik-naks that were produced in some sweat-shop in some third world country, and as far as I am concerned that is not art. The Greek vase I have on my wardrobe is not art, it is a trinket I picked up in Athens that is a replica of a Greek vase. Mind friend did ask me whether a calendar that contains a collection of paintings by Renoir would be art, and my response would be that yes, the prints are, but the calendar isn't.
The other thing that my friend said was that some of the paintings tell a story. He mentioned a painting that he looked at that had a woman crying, and a baby lying on the table. However as he studied the painting he noticed a small box under the table and as he considered the box he realised that it was a coffin. It was then that he realised that the painting was about the sorrow that a mother undergoes when her infant child dies. I can't say that I have studied works of art that indepth, but it has given me another perspective for the next time I wonder into an art gallery.
While I don't have a picture of the painting above, when he did tell me that it made me think of this painting below:
Old Woman and the Grim Reaper
Captions anyone?

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Night Noodle Market - A Foodie's Fantasia

Night Noodle Markets Entrance
One time last year (that is 2013), when I had taken a day off work (because I had to work on a public holiday and I preferred the day off rather than the extra pay), I was out wondering around Melbourne with my friend who enjoys taking photos of himself in garden settings.

Sami at Treasury Gardens
He was nice enough to let me use this photo. Source.
Anyway, while we were walking back from the Botanic Gardens (with the intention of having a beer on Pony Fish Island) we passed this set up called 'The Age Night Noodle Markets). A part of me simply wanted to throw the plans that I had that night into the bin and go inside, however at that time my desire to have a beer on Pony Fish Island was greater than my desire to eat noodles, so I crossed my fingers and prayed that it would come around next year (that is 2014). It turned out that my prayers were answered because when I was perusing The Age website at work (during my break, of course) I discovered that it was on again, so I scrapped my plans for Thursday night and went to check it out.
It turned out that the Night Noodle Markets are really popular:

Night Noodle Market Crowd
Yep, they are all going to have a bite to eat.
and they even had cookie monster playing the bagpipes, but that was outside the market and I suspect that he had nothing to do with the event itself but rather was positioning himself so that he could capitalise on the popularity of the markets (which isn't a bad thing in a free-market society, which of course ours strictly isn't, but that is another story which I won't go into here).
Cookie Monster on the Bagpipes
I didn't stay to listen
The funny thing about the Night Noodle Markets is that I came here looking for Chinese food, but from what I could see there weren't any stalls selling Chinese food. Maybe it is because if you really want Chinese food there are plenty of shops in and around Melbourne where you can gorge yourself to your heart's content (I do exaggerate because there were a couple of Dim Sum stalls, however I could not find any place that had noodles and chopsticks – I love eating noodles with chopsticks).
However, despite the lack of stalls selling what I would consider Chinese food (excepting the Dim Sum of course) there was still plenty to be had here. From what I gathered though, this place was set up to allow us to sample food from places that we would not necessary visit (though considering the Pho soup is really cheap at I love Pho I had already sampled that previously). So, looking at all the options that were available, and considering that I have only a limited amount of space in my stomach, I decided that I would have one dish from a random stall and some mini pancakes (with which I still wonder where the Asian connection is).
So, looking around, my eyes came upon a stall selling Burmese food. I have never had Burmese food before, so I decided what I was going to eat, and since one of their dishes was beef, I knew I was going to have that (I love beef, though it can be a little expensive).
Burmese Beef Dish
I'm not sure what it is called, so I will call it the 'Burmese Beef Dish'
What was even better was that the bars had Coopers Pale as the headline beer, which for me, having grown up in South Australia, will never complain about.
Coopers Pale Ale Beer Garden
And just to think they started off as a craft beer
Mind you, what didn't surprise me was that there were a number of other sponsors, including Harvey Norman:
Harvey Norman Tent
Though I couldn't see any plasma TVs inside
and Citibank:
Citibank ATM
With an option to open an account.
To really add to the flavour of the night they even threw on a dragon dance.

Or is it a lion dance? I can never be quite sure.

However, I am still trying to work out what the three women where doing on the top of the poles because, from where I was standing, it did not seem to be much at all.
Noodle Night Market Pole Girls
Though they were waving fans around

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

A hike up Mount Macedon

I first heard about Mount Macedon during the Ash Wednesday bushfires on 16 February 1983.
Ash Wednesday Bushfire Map
Source: Wikimedia Commons
At that time I thought they were called the Ash Wednesday bushfires because they, well, started on a Wednesday. I guess that wasn't a bad assumption to make considering that other bushfires on other days have been named after the day that they started. However I later discovered that the reason they called them the Ash Wednesday bushfires is not so much because fire tends to turn wood to ash, but rather because they started on Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent on the Western Christian calender.

I thought it would be a good idea to show you where you can find Mount Macedon.

Anyway, I never thought much of Mount Macedon, except that it is a national park where you can go for a bush walk (not that I don't like bush walks), until a friend of mine showed me a photo of a massive cross on the top of the mountain. It was then that I decided that I might try hiking from the Macedon Railway Station up to the top of the mountain, take a selfie of me at the cross, post it on Facebook, and then walk back down again.
Well, that ended up taking up five hours of my life, not that it was five hours that I consider wasted, it just ended up being a five hour walk (which obviously did not include the journey there and back by train, which was another four hours).
So, starting off at the railway station:

Macedon Railway Station
I probably didn't need to add this picture, but I do like old railway stations
with my trusty smartphone containing Google Maps (naturally) and a compass, I began my trek up the mountain.
It wasn't long before I made a friend:

I find it very hard to get an animal to sit still for a photo
though I was a little concerned that if I touched him my friend would instantly become my best friend and start following me. The fact that it had a collar suggested that it was somebody else's best friend, so I didn't really want to get in the way of that relationship. Mind you, it would have been quite interesting if my friend had decided to follow me all the way up to the top of the mountain, and back again, but while he did follow me for a bit (namely because I felt the wet nose on my hand), I guess he decided that a walk up the mountain was not one of the things he really wanted to do at the time.
The good thing about walking up mountains is that you generally don't get lost, because the mountain is right in front of you making it very difficult to misplace. Mind you, walking up the mountain, even on paved roads, is not the easiest of tasks, though I must admit it is much more enjoyable than sitting in a room peddling a bike that goes absolutely nowhere.
I won't say too much about the town because I really didn't spend all that long looking around: the walk up the mountain was going to take up most of the day. However, what I did notice was that there were an awful lot of palatial estates around here. Okay, my auntie used to live on some acreage just outside of Melbourne, and it was a pretty nice house as well, however the houses I saw around here made her house look like a shack (not that you could actually see them).

Macedon Estate Garden
I couldn't see the house, so here is a small part of the garden

Macedon Antenna
It looks more like a radar
Walking further up Mount Macedon I passed a pile of wood in a paddock, which no doubt was being saved for a bonfire onr night (and I remember going to some of these bonfires). What was a little disappointing though was that I seemed to spend more time wondering past these estates than actually walking through bushland (which is what I really wanted to do). It was not until I was almost at the top that I entered the national park.
Mind you, you generally know when you have reached the top of a mountain because there is usually something there to mark that fact – with Mount Macedon it is a couple of antennas:
Mount Macedon Historical Cairn
There is also an historical cairn, with a sign posted nearby extolling the wonders of this ancient pile of rocks held together by cement. Anybody who is really interested in the history of surveying in Victoria could learn a lot from this marker. However, since I'm not one of those people, I shrugged my shoulders and continued walking towards the Memorial Cross. 
Fortunately there was a tea house near the summit, so I decided to stop off and have some tea and scones (actually it was a lemon muffin, but I guess that is close enough). Mind you the tea house wasn't cheap – I guess it is all of the fuel that they use lugging their supplies up to the top of the mountain. There was also a gallery inside, but the paintings didn't seem to impress me all that much (no Renoir) so I made my way towards the gate that would take me to the cross.

Mount Macedon Memorial Cross Gate
If you miss the signs, now you know what the gate looks like
So, here I am, standing at the Memorial Cross (pausing for a minutes silence without the need of a script):

Macedon Memorial Cross Selfie
I can't say it is my best shot, but then again what selfie is?
when I suddenly realised that I now had to make my way back down. That wasn't all that much of a problem, except the direct route (that is the small track through the bush) had been closed due to the rangers lighting spot fires to clear away the undergrowth. That really brought a downer to the day because I was really looking forward to walking along a rough and narrow bush track, but I guess that is life. So I turned around and headed back the way I came.
I would have stayed a little longer to admire the view:
Major Mitchell Looking - Mount Macedon
This is what they call a lookout - look out! There is a steep drop ahead
but it was little more than endless paddocks and there are much better views from much better mountains; anyway I had a train to catch. On my way back down I was fortunate enough to see a couple of Fat Yaks in a paddock.
Fat Yaks in a Paddock
At least these two stood still. One even smiled for the camera.
So before I caught my train, I went into the local pub:
Mount Macedon Hotel
And a really nice pub at that
and had myself a Fat Yak.
Fat Yak Bottle
A much better Fat Yak
This post has also been posted on my Travel Blog.

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Monday, 17 November 2014

A story about Art, Argument, and Motorbikes

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance cover
source: Wikimedia Foundation
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Joseph Pirsig
1974 - 9/10 

This is one of those books that I am wondering why it took me so long to get around to reading. I guess a part of it had to do with the title (when I was younger anything that reeked of another religion would be automatically discarded), but then I guess it also had to do with the fact that it was only recently that I obtained a copy (thanks to gift card that was given to me as a present), and when my bookclub decided to have a session devoted entirely to, well, controversial books, it gave me an excuse to read it.

Within fifteen minutes of reading I knew I was going to like this book (though it did start to drag a little at the end). This is one of those books that I consider a true, modern, American novel, and I am even inclined to put it into the category of 'a great American novel'. Pirsig refers to this novel as a kulturbarer, which is a Swedish word which means, well, culture bearer. He admits that when he started out writing this book he had no intention of writing such a great novel, and even suggests that when he had finished it most of the publishers refused to touch it (and those publishers are probably all kicking themselves now). The reason he suggests that the novel is a culture bearer is because it is one of those books that works to define the culture of the country in which it is written.

So, how is 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' a kulturbarer? Well, I would suggest that it works to explore the breadth and depth of modern American culture. This book is truly a post-modernist work in that it touches upon both the real and the esoteric (as I will go on to explain as I explore three aspects of this novel). 

As I read this book I was sure that it was a work of fiction, that is until I got to the afterword which suggested otherwise. I am still left in doubt as to whether the source of this book was real or not, and even Pirsig throws this into doubt – is what he is writing about real, or is it simply a figment of his imagination. I don't really want to go into too much detail about that though because that will give away one of the important points of this novel. However, what I will look at (as suggested by my title to this post) are three ideas that Pirsig explores – Motorcycles, argument, and art.

I am sure everybody knows what a motorcycle is, but if you don't, here is a picture of one (or at least the one I pictured him riding, because he never actually tells us):

Triumph Motorcycle
Your average, everyday, Triumph Tiger.
Source: Wikimedia Foundation 
though he could have been riding something like this:
Alien-Predator Motorcycle
If I ever decide to ride a motorcycle, it's going to be this one.
Anyway, the motorcycle, to me, represents two things – technology and freedom. The reason that I raise the issue of technology is because Pirsig starts off exploring a number of conflicts (and these conflicts become important later on in the book). The use of the motorcycle as technology creates a clear conflict with nature, as there is a suggestion that there are groups who envisage technology as not only being in opposition to nature, but also seeking to destroy nature, not only through pollution but also through development (rivers are diverted, forests are cut down, and cities arise as a form of artificial landscape). 

However, Pirsig points out that the motorcycle is an unusual form of technology in that when one is riding through nature it gives the rider a much closer experience of the natural world. He explains as he begins his journey that he stays away from the freeways and instead travels along the small roads that wind their way through forests, farms, and towns. Further, as he suggests, travelling in a car is basically travelling in an enclosed space and you view nature similarly to watching television, whereas when you travel on a motorcycle you are immersed in the natural world, which is why I identify riding a motorcyle with freedom (though you will still never catch me on one).

Pirsig uses the term quality rather than the term art because what he is talking about is the creation of, well, stuff. Prior to industrialisation things were built in what was known as the cottage industry (such as the blacksmith, the cobbler, etc). If a blacksmith were to survive as a blacksmith he (or she) would have to build things that last – that is things of quality. If the blacksmith's work was shoddy then people would go and look for another blacksmith. However industrialisation changed that because the work went from the backyard and into the factory where items would be manufactured on an assembly line. Further, as the western economic system developed, the desire to create things that lasted began to diminish as the corporate bosses sort ways to increase their profits, and building things that lasted meant that profits would be limited – so the factories began to produce things with built in obsolescence.

So, what has this got to do with art? Well, remember how I explained above about how technology and nature were in conflict because technology was seen as a way of destroying nature? Well, art is a fusion of nature and technology, so that through technology the natural world is morphed into art. Take for instance the countryside:

Flinders Ranges Bushland
There is still a lot of this in outback Australia

By bringing technology into the wilderness you come out with the garden:

Versailles Garden
I'm already planning a trip back here
and thus you have an artistic creation (Though some would argue that gardens are an abomination, however I am not one of them since I am a big fan of art). 

However, as our society advances, certain economic forces begin to see that art has no real value and is simply a distraction towards the maximisation of profit. Take for instance these buildings in Melbourne;

Elizabeth Street Buildings
Our grandfathers certainly knew about to build buildings
These buildings were, I believe, constructed at the turn of the 20th Century, and as you can see, there is an artistic side to these buildings. However, as the 20th century progressed, aspects of society saw this style of building as being pretty much a waste of money, and to lower the costs of construction began to build buildings like these:

Melbourne Skyscraper
Utilitarianism in action
Yet, the need for art within the workspace has come to be seen as a necessity. People working in a dull and drab office tend to be much less productive than people working in a bright office. In fact I have seen this within companies that I have worked at: when I started the office was dim and bland, and in an attempt to increase productivity (and to stop the number of people walking out the door) the powers that be decided to invest in the office, and within a few months the office was bright and colourful, and surprisingly staff retention began to increase.

I suspect that also works within the office culture as well. In an office where the culture is one of a cutthroat battle to climb the ladder as fast as possible, productivity suffers, however an office environment that is friendly, supportive, and where people can talk about things that are not directly related to work can have a substantial effect on productivity. It appears, at least in some aspects of our capitalist society, that people have come to realise that art matters, and that society exists beyond the simple desire to make money.

Thus Pirsig brings us to one aspect of the title of his book, and that is 'the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. Throughout the book Pirsig talks about maintaining and working on the motorcycle and offers warnings against using so called professionals. To him, taking a hands on approach means that one does things correctly rather than relying upon another person who may not do the work properly. In fact, he even goes as far as suggesting that one should machine their own parts because by doing so one can be assured that they have the correct part. Thus, by working on the motorcycle oneself, it moves away from simply being little more than a technical skill, and becomes in itself a form of art.

The Art of Argument
I was initially simply going title this section 'Argument' but in line with the discussion above, I thought it necessary to take on this new title. Pirsig identifies two forms of argument, rhetoric and the dialectic. Rhetoric is a form of argument where you seek to persuade a person with an opposing point of view around to your point of view through fine sounding speeches. However, the dialectic is a form of argument where one seeks to find a common ground and bring the two opposing sides together to create a merged position. I am sure everybody has seen this diagram of Hegel's dialectic:

Mind you, Hegel was not the first person to develop this form of argument. This form goes as far back as the ancient Greeks – Hegel only created a diagram to provide clarification of this form of argument. Christians tend not to like this form of argument though because it moves away from an objective truth to a more relative form of truth, however to ignore the dialectic is to ignore a foundational aspect of our culture, and in fact the dialectic does come into play in the Bible. For instance what happens when we bring the thesis of God together with the anti-thesis of humanity? We come to the synthesis of Jesus Christ.

However, I am not interested in how the dialectic applies to Christianity, but rather how the dialectic works with this particular book. Pirsig explores Greek philosophy extensively in this book, and talks a lot about the great philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. However, these philosophers are rhetoricians in that they saw an objective form of truth and would not move away from it. Pirsig contrasts that with the sophists, who have a relative form of truth, and in a way they are the dialectics. Yet he points out that we only see these sophists through the eyes of one person – Plato. In parts Pirsig seems to see rhetoric as the stronger form of argument, however this book is rather dialectical in composition. I shall explain:

He begins with conflict – between technology and nature, between the classical and the romantic, and between reason and faith. However, as the story progresses we begin to see these conflicts resolved through the dialectic, and this is very evident, as I have explained, with nature and technology. As I have demonstrated, the thesis of nature, and the antithesis of technology comes together to form the synthesis of art. Yet one also has the conflict of classical art and romantic art, which no doubt comes together to form, well, I guess modern art. Yet despite these syntheses going on, there is also the rhetoric, as is demonstrated at the end, where the philosopher that Pirsig follows (Phaedrus – a character based upon the Platonic dialogue of the same name), ends up destroying the dialectic of the Chairman of the faculty with his well argued rhetoric. 

Further Reading
Some other blog posts on this book:
James Maxey has some interesting thoughts, especially in relation to Trash.
Another review, or rather some thoughts, from somebody who read it during a mid-life crisis.
Some reflections on the book by a Christian Blogger.

Truimph Tiger image: Copyright (c) Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNUFree Documentation License".

Alien Predator Motorcycle Source: Oddity Central 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me. All images on this post are © and/or ™ their relevant owners. If you are the owner of any of the images used on this website and wish them to be removed then please contact me.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fitzroy Gardens - Turning Nature into Art

When I was a kid there was a difference between a park and a garden: parks had playgrounds and gardens didn't. In fact I thought gardens were either boring, or simply hard work (namely because my Dad would regularly get me to pull perfectly good plants out of his garden, though he had another word for them – weeds). 

They make me wish I was still a kid - hold it, I am.
Mind you, not much changed as I grew up because I remember coming to Melbourne with a friend of mine during my university years where we stayed at a backpacker's hostel. The owner of the hostel, upon learning that we had come from Adelaide, told us that where Adelaide had parklands, Melbourne had gardens, and then proceeded to show us all of the gardens in Melbourne. Mind you, we weren't all that interested because we weren't in Melbourne to wonder around looking at gardens, we were in Melbourne to check out the rave scene (though of all of the clubs, we only ended up going to two, one of them being the Lounge Bar).

I've really got to go to a rave in Europe one day.

I am now somewhat more older (though I really don't like admitting it because I still make a habit of going to at least one rave a year – this year it was ArminOnly), and as my appreciation of art has developed, so has my appreciation of gardens. To me a garden is just another form of art, though unlike a painting which you put in a frame and cover it with a layer of glass and leave it hanging on the wall for all to see, a garden requires an immense amount of work to maintain its pristine condition.
Garden Path
I simply don't have the time or the patience.
I feel that to suggest that the Fitzroy Gardens is just another garden would be a travesty because, well, no two gardens are the same (though one that is covered in weeds and overgrown bushes really can't be considered a garden, unless of course the garden is using some from of post-modern form to express the decay of modern society), and the Fitzroy Gardens contain quite a number of attractions to give it its own identity. For instance, there is the Fairy Tree: 
Fairy Tree - Fitzroy Gardens
There is more on the other side
which is a stump in which the author Ola Cohn carved a number of images of fairies to promote her book 'The Fairy Tree'. The tree is meant to be a fairy sanctuary and something for children of many generations to enjoy (though for some reason whenever I visit the tree the fairies all seem to go into hiding – maybe they sense the fairy net that I keep hidden in my bag).
Next to the fairy tree is a model Tudor village:
Model Tudor Village
There is a BMW Limosine in the background
which, if you look carefully, you can see Shakespeare's house:
Shakespeare's House in Fitzroy Gardens
I wonder if this is what his house really looks like?
and Pilgrim's Rest, a tribute to the 16th century classic Pilgrim's Progress:
Pilgrim's Rest at Fitzroy Gardens
This makes me want to read the book again.
This village was given as a gift to the City of Melbourne for sending food to England during World War II (though Australia has long been one of England's food bowls).
However, despite all of this, I don't believe I have yet told you where you can find the Fiztroy Gardens, so here is a map:

The Fairy Tree and the Tudor Village aren't the only things that you will find in the gardens because there is also a cafe (conveniently located next to the Tudor Village), and an ornamental pond, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, in which there is what I call the Dolphin Stone:
Dolphin Stone - Fitzroy Gardens
There are other sea creatures here, but it is the Dolphins that stand out.
A brisk walk to the north will bring you to the Statue of the River God.
River God Fountain - Fitzroy Gardens
This seems very Greek to me
and on the other side of the gardens, in front of the Conservatorium, there is a lovely statue of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Hunt (though they refer to her by her Latin name Diana, not to be confused with the late Princess of Wales)
Artemis Statue - Fitzroy Gardens
Having studied Greek I insist on calling her by her proper name
While Artemis is famous for many things, the one story that I always remember is how the hunter Actaeon, who was out doing what he does best, that is hunting, stumbled upon Artemis while she was having a bath. Because mere mortals aren't supposed to see goddesses having baths, he was turned into a giant stag - such is life.
The one thing that always baffled me is that in the Fiztroy Gardens you can find Captain Cook's Cottage.
Captain Cook's Cottage - Fitzroy Gardens
I'm still not convinced that Captain Cook lived here.
The reason I'm confused is because as far as I am aware (and I could be wrong) Captain Cook never visited Melbourne, let alone lived here. Apparently this cottage was where his parents lived in England, but after World War II it was dismantled and brought here and rebuilt in the gardens, which begs the question: if the cottage was dismantled, piled onto a ship, sent half way around the world, and then rebuilt, is it the same cottage?

This post has also been posted on my travel blog.

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