Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fleet of foot

by Louise Martin-Chew

20 July 2010
Last night I watched a woman unmask in public. She swooned, swayed, danced, sang, hummed, bopped, stamped her (bare) foot, feigned, and looked alternately brooding, evil (aka the bad Big Baby in Toy Story 3), animalistic and ecstatic. Her demeanour was variously intense, casual, relaxed, engaged – as was the audience who went with her on this uncharted, uninhibited journey. However it wasn’t Pink or Lady Gaga or any other popular music luminary. Nor was this event at a mass entertainment venue. Instead the instrument was a violin and the place the Concert Hall of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. The Barefoot Fiddler (Australian Chamber Orchestra, Brisbane, 19 July 2010) was Patricia Kopatchinskaja, a 33 year old Moldovan violinist, who says, “I don’t feel the heavy weight of tradition; I’m not in a corset! I use the tradition to find the inspiration of creation. It’s not a cage.” (ACO 2010 Barefoot Fiddler program) http://www.aco.com.au/Default.aspx?url=/kopatchinskaja

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

This was contemporary artistry in an environment more often served by convention: Kopatchinskaja handled her violin like a virtuoso, making sounds that Vivaldi may not have intended with her violin, yet they channeled the spirit of his music across the centuries. This artistry had exhilarating edginess, bearing an unexpected gift. From an experience like these passions are born, revisited, and bound into new fabric.

Three individuals with artistic passions that have been generously shared with a greater public were recognized at a function at the Gold Coast Arts Centre on July 17. Patrick and Barbara Corrigan and Mrs Win Schubert were honoured for their commitment to contemporary Australian visual art. The dinner with friends, a tribute film by Alex Chomicz, and their collecting legacies remain visible in the Gold Coast City Art Collection (and many others).

Alex Chomicz, Benefactors Dinner for Patrick and Barbara Corrigan and Mrs Win Schubert. Patrick Corrigan with Mrs Schubert

However this was not an ending to the rewarding partnerships – indeed Pat Corrigan has had more manifestations as a collector than most cats have had lives – but an acknowledgement that benefaction in Australia is precious, although as a phenomenon it is growing. The gifts from these three individuals to their local gallery have enriched the experience of the community and visitors. The Gold Coast City Art Collection punches above its weight. http://www.theartscentregc.com.au/pages/support-us.php

Alex Chomicz, Benefactors Dinner for Patrick and Barbara Corrigan and Mrs Win Schubert. 82 Friends and supporters

It’s notable though that in recent years individuals have not simply donated works to public institutions, with more private museums showing personal collections springing up around Australia. Since 2000 we have seen the uber-stylish Tarrawarra Museum of Art outside Melbourne, the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney and, due to open at the end of 2010, is the heavyweight of them all – the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania. And there are others.

The reasons for opening the doors yourself to the public instead of passing the objects into the hands of Australia’s state and national institutions may relate more to changes in government policy (philanthropic measures announced in March 1999) than to burgeoning gallerists, although it is an adventure that may be difficult to resist. Impassioned collectors are completed by the sharing of them – with a discerning audience. And there are inspirational international precedents – my personal favourite is Peggy Guggenheim’s house museum in Venice. http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/inglese/default.html

Peggy Guggenheim

The size of the collection of European and American art is neatly accommodated within domestic scaled spaces, the quality is breathtaking, and the ability to spend time in Peggy’s favoured home (Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal), with her beloved dogs buried under tombstones in the garden, gives a real sense of her own life rhythms, and the passion that stalks humanity looking for something other.

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