Broken Hill is a damn fine place to visit. As is Silverton and the Day Dream Mine.  Old stuff, industrial stuff, great artwork, friendly artists, horses, dips in the road, stories about how people mined in ye olden days and dramatically shortened their life expectancy in the process.

Broken Hill Sculpture Park

Like good little tourists my friend and I took ourselves to Broken Hill’s sculpture park. Here are my contributions to the large quantity of photos of the sculpture park already in existence on the internet.

A Mongolian Sequitur


Baga Gazryn Chulu in the Middle Gobi region of Mongolia (Source: me!)

Mongolia is a nation currently undergoing rapid development. WordPress not so long ago fresh-pressed Khogjmiin Duureg, a blog looking at music and urbanisation in Ulanbaatar. Here’s an American artist who specialises in painting Mongolian animal life. In recent news, a Mongolian fossil dinosaur is up for auction in the U.S. It is believed that the fossil may have been exported illegally from Mongolia.



Cancun kitsch

This afternoon, back in downtown Cancun, we walked along Chichen Itza street to a plaza market then along Coba and Yaxchilan Streets. We ate luke warm buffet lunch that is sure to give me food poisoning and took in the skilled and finely crafted kitsch of hotels and restaurants in the area. We saw pseudo-mayan facades, wood panelling, mosaic sidewalks and caricatures of ambiguous moustached men in sombreros (or cowboy hats). I´m not sure who was being stereotyped… cowboys or Mexicans. A lot of money, effort and time has been put into creating these pastiches. Kitsch yes but sure to come with interesting academic discourse on tourism-led, transnational, multinational, multi-layered, multi-ball social change.

Mosaics, Public Art and the Transit Museum

December 2010

The Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) puts one percent of its subway construction budget towards public art. The mosaics, sculptures and other assorted artworks that resulted from this policy are found throughout New York’s transit system. A guided tour of the Transit Museum provides a detailed history of the subway network and provides photos of conceptual art behind the many artworks. Wish some of the world’s cement carparks would follow the MTA’s example.

Photo of a Transit Museum photo of Brandt's 2002 Room of Tranquility at 161st Street

For more, better photos not taken by me:
The New York Subway Art Guide

Chasing Pyramids

In the mornings, while Matt does his writing, I stalk through the streets and museums of New York. If this was France and the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the Louvre, I would have sighted a pyramid before the week was out. Alas, this is New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is just the Met and I have had to make do with the contents of pyramids.

I’ve had to make do with 90,000 year old stone tools, evidence of the beginnings of metalwork and ivory knife handles that, if you look at up close, you can see the ferocious expressions of carved lions. Middle Kingdom wooden models of boats, breweries, bakeries and butchers. Granite statues of Sekhmet, Thoth, Horemheb and the ‘hoteps. Sure, the Met has grave goods, a tomb and a temple. But the pottery? Not even remotely pyramid shaped.

I shall take comfort in that if were I in France, knowing the exact location of a pyramid, I would not have the thrill of the chase, the hunt. Also, I think the Louvre pyramid might be too slippery to climb.

Pyramid Hunting in New York

The Guggenheim Museum, with its Frank Lloyd designed spirals and curves, was not conducive to pyramid-sighting. There were some well-formed triangles from Kandinsky, some inspired cubism from Marcel Grommaire and Leger, and some pointed ballerinas from Degas. Cones, yes. Pyramids, no. Otto Dix seemed more interested in blood and guts than geometry. I made my way up and down the spiral path, determined not to be seduced by Frank Lloyd Wright or the Chaos and Classicism exhibition. I had a mission.

Next in my quest for pyramids was the American Museum of Natural History on 81st Street. For a paltry $1 I learnt that the earth was approximately 4.8 billion years old, learnt how different types of rock formed and how to take an icecore sample. I saw a slab of the oldest known rock formation on earth (imported from Greenland) and several large meteorites, one so dense that it required concrete pylons to be constructed deep into the museum’s foundations to support its display on the 1st floor. I found a Tyrannosaurus Rex, an Albertosaur, an Archaeopteryx, a specimen of the Australian lungfish, Pleseosaurus, and the antecedents of birds, fish, frogs and turtles. I took a refresher course in human evolution and dragged Matt from cast displays of Lucy, Turkana Boy to Achulian and Levallois stone tools dating back 300,000 years. They had a cast of the skulls recovered from Lake Mungo (c. 35,000 years ago) and Kow Swamp (c.10,000 years ago/Pleistocene era). I casually made it known that I had participated in a minor capacity in excavating Pleistocene-dated stone tools in Wonthaggi, Victoria. I waved my arms enthusiastically in front of a mammoth, Diprotodon, giant proto-anteater and proto-sloth (Lepradon). I found some dioramas representing salmon traps that had been made by the North-west Coast Indians. It reminded me that I never finished reading about the eel trap settlement around Lake Condah, Victoria. I spent 8 hours over two days in the Natural History Museum, seeing approximately 45% of the collections on display. I am grieved to report that I did not locate any pyramids. I also didn’t find any unnamed dinosaurs I could name after Katie*. But all is not lost: a little plaque on the fourth floor said there were many fossils in their collection and too few archaeologists paleontologists to study them. I could always retrain…

*When a high school friend of mine found out that I got a job in archaeology she made me promise under duress that I would name a dinosaur after her. I am still looking. I just tend to get distracted by things that have existed within the last 30,000 years.