Friday, 24 June 2011

Saturday @ the NGV

Last Saturday I went to the ballet matinee at the State Theatre. Like Baldrick, I devised a Cunning Plan! I would go a few hours early, thereby getting a good parking spot under the Arts Centre and as an extra bonus, time to wander round the current exhibitions at the NGV.

I particularly wanted to see ManStyle, the exhibition of men's fashions. I always like the clothes out of the historical novels, and this time there was a beautiful embroidered frock coat and waistcoat in shades of pink: even to an delicate little flower in the centre of each button. I was enchanted.

Less enchanted and more gobsmacked when I moved round to the modern stuff. Where is Paul Keating now that his country needs him? That exhibition needs one of his exquisite suits to leaven the numbing effect of the codpieces, necklaces, skirts and floral headgear that the modern well-dressed man apparently wears. Although where he wears it to, is a mystery to me - I suppose I don't move in the right circles because I haven't so far caught a glimpse of him in his finery.

We have the Vivien Westwood frayed jacket and jeans. with bright red codpiece in the shape of a floppy bow. Right there my freak-out factor started climbing, before I even spotted the Michael Glover miniskirt topped with a sparse kneelength fringe.

OK, so it's a skirt, but it is hessian - that makes it blokey, doesn't it? It is teamed with a hooded top. The hood has a large bobble above the eyes, not unlike Harbhajan Singh when he runs up to bowl one of his off-spinners. Knitted leg warmers and a pair of army boots complete the ensemble.

The House of Rex has contributed an outfit entitled "Nordic Salesman in Swing Dress", complete with an old-time Gladstone bag containing what I take to be his samples. He is wearing what the card says is a "showgirl choker", and indeed it wouldn't be out of place in Las Vegas. Whatever Nordic delights he is selling, he won't get a foot in the door chez McClelland! He'll be lucky if I don't call Simon Overland's Finest. Who? Oh, sorry, I forgot.

By this time I had been joined by the invisible presence of my late father, a man who never owned a pair of shorts or a collar-less shirt in his life. He muttered what could be either prayers or obscenities while we contemplated an ensemble that was conceived in Antwerp: it featured an overskirt with four flounces and a scaly green alligator handbag attached to the shoulder.

And when I say alligator bag, I mean it looked like an alligator. It clung on with its teeth. It reminded me of a fox fur cape my mother used to have in the days before animal rights. The clasp in the front looked like a fox head biting its own paw. I wonder what happened to it … I could probably get a fortune for it on eBay.

My favourite ensemble was the one called "Plain Jane". I was only disappointed that her (sorry, his) "Fancy Fanny" outfit wasn't also on display: that would have been something to see! Reading from north to south, Plain Jane was sporting a knee-length tunic in a snakes-and-ladders print, garnished with a necklace of bright red beads the size of golf balls; floral stove-pipe trousers and a pair of white ballet flats.

There are many more outfits here to boggle your mind. It is still on until November - next time you are at the NGV, pop up to the Fashion and Textile Gallery on the second floor for a look.

After a restorative cup of peppermint tea and an Anzac biscuit in the Members' Room, I ventured up to the third floor to inspect the exhibition of photographs from the NGV archives, under the title of "Deep Water".

The photographs range from icebergs, lakes and waterfalls to beaches, swimmers and boats. I particularly liked the turreted iceberg by Frank Hurley and the bathers at Newport by Max Dupain.

In "Rowing Home" by P.H.Emerson, the oars create fascinating geometric reflections, and I liked "Shark's Eye View" by Narelle Autio: surfers waiting for the next big wave.

These photographs will still be on display until 11 September, so you have plenty of time to see them.

No comments: