Hobart and MONA

I am lagging behind… with everything. My camera arrived from Port Arthur a week ago, and I put the pictures on the computer straight away but have not posted anything about the remaining days of our Tasmanian adventure. And by now so much else has happened that it feels a bit unnatural to go back in time. But let’s stay in the chronological order of events and go back to Hobart!

Let’s put the textile topics first.

  1. On our way from Mole Creek to Hobart, we stopped at a number of exiting places: a honey factory, a steam museum, and the Tasmanian Wool Center in Ross. DSCN0761My initial excitement petered out quickly about this unexpected find on our route… there were a number of ‘touchy feely’ displays, videos, historical exhibits – but the whole place failed to really engage me. And I, being a really easily excitable person, will just have to put this down to the centre, and not myself.
  2. I fell in love with a hexagon quilt displayed in Port Arthur in the surgeon’s cottage. As mentioned in an earlier post – when I wanted to take a photo of it I noticed that my camera was missing! I have not found a picture of it on the internet, but since I have been trying hard, I did come across a useful site, the site of the National Quilt Register! ‘My quilt’ was not there, I still have to ring Port Arthur historic site and ask them about the quilt. Will report on that in due time!
  3. Whilst wandering through the historic convict site of the Cascades female factory in Hobart, I discovered a reference to the project Roses from the Heart. This project honors the lives and fates of all the women who were sentenced to transportation as convicts to Australia (1788 – 1853). The conceptual artist Christina Henri has initiated the crafting of 25 566 bonnets, one for each female convict. Bonnet patterns are available on the link above, pre-made bonnets can also be purchased for decoration from the same website. The idea is to make and decorate a bonnet for your ancestor, if you have convict blood in you. If you don’t, you can ‘adopt’ a convict and prepare a bonnet in her honor. All bonnets will be sent back to England and they will be blessed in a special ceremony to commemorate the hardship these forgotten women went through.
  4. At the same historic site, I stumbled across a reference to the Rajah Quilt. rajahIn a nutshell: it is a stunning quilt, housed at the National Gallery in Canberra and can be viewed on request. I was sewn by convict women on the voyage to van Dieman’s Land on board of the Rajah in 1841. Anyway, check out the link above for more details, it is a very moving story.

Now to the more contemporary side of things – Knitting in Hobart! I only visited ONE wool shop! It was the Stash Cupboard, a lovely shop! Great yarns, books, notions, friendly service and a couch to sit on… and knit. There was a basket of yarn and needles for anyone with a little time on their hands to knit part of a square for blankets of the recent bushfire victims. One great experience was visiting Fullers Bookshop in 131 Collins Street. What does that have to do with knitting??? you may think. Fair enough. I happened to get there on a Wednesday afternoon, enjoying their amazing craft collection, when my husband pointed out 20 women sitting around the big table in the coffee shop knitting! And as I was sipping my afternoon cappuccino, longingly gazing at every woman’s project, one of them just beckoned and asked me to join them. Jenny, as I found out was the lovely lady’s name, had simply identified me by way of my gaze as a fellow knitter and I was instantly made feel – without needles and yarn – as a full member of this sisterhood. Kniterature is a wonderful group of women of all ages and knitting abilities, who seem only too happy to embrace new faces! In no time I exchanged with a number of knitters I was sitting close to advice and experience, book titles and websites… What a great thing to happen on my final evening of this great holiday!

Hobart is such a picturesque place! It is hilly, the houses and their roofs are painted in bright colors, and the light is magnificent! DSCN0849DSCN0853 Walking around the harbour was just beautiful!

DSCN0773DSCN0767DSCN0766DSCN0772Well, and then there was MONA!!!! The Museum of Old and New Art. I had heard so much about it… and just walking up to the entrance got us into the mood and we were filled with excitement of experiencing something very amazing.DSCN0789DSCN0804DSCN0796DSCN0847 The amazing thing about MONA (apart from all the staff having amazing haircuts, I was short of asking if they had a resident hairdresser) is that the entire place is about meaning, not history, period, artist, genre, nationality or any other conceivable form of structure for categorization. None of it is important and is not conveyed to the visitor, unless he or she so chooses to look up the artwork on the iPod given to him or her when entering MONA. The iPod has got an internal GPS, it just finds the work the visitor is standing in front of and gives as little or extensive information one chooses to receive. In particular I liked the small button ‘art wank’ that displayed all sorts of interesting facts. But before the visitor takes any of this is, he or she is probably overwhelmed by the architecture itself. The building is unlike any other, but despite its distinct features, it does not dominate the art.DSCN0839DSCN0838DSCN0811

This is all I am going to say about MONA, go and see it, it is just the best art museum I have ever been to! You cannot consume art there, you have to engage. Here are just some practical tips:

  • yes, take your children. They will be a bit bewildered when they see the first few nudes, but then it does not phase them. Chat to them as you go, take them past exhibits that appear really inappropriate – but the friendly staff is there to point those artworks out to you! Our kids really enjoyed it, we were there nearly all day and they didn’t get bored, there was so much diversity – they couldn’t’ get bored.
  • get there just before 10am if you drive – at that time there will be plenty of car parks available and they will let you in just before processing all the visitors arriving on the 10am ferry
  • take your reading glasses!
  • there is free water and reasonably priced food in the in the cafes
  • admission for Tasmanians is free, we paid $40 for a family of 5, that is a bargain!
  • taking the ferry must be great, but it is $20/ person one way, $30/ person return – no concessions.

So, that was Tasmania. Just wonderful, so much more for me to explore!

3 thoughts on “Hobart and MONA

    • Thanks for that comment! I must say, when I wrote this post I was so keen to keep close to all the facts, summarizing so many events. And I did leave out what I really wanted to say, which is: I have learned so much about Australia’s history on this trip, been able to visualize and feel how this country was established. And yes, I felt the sadness and the heart ship at so many of the sites I visited …

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