Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's been a little crazy ... but I've finally been to MONA

G’day. Apologies for the gap between posts (again, I know!).

Life has been a little crazy. My Dad passed away on Grand Final Day after a 13 month battle with Glioblastoma Multiforme or GBM ~ the nastiest kind of brain cancer. After a mad dash across to Melbourne to see him, he passed away three days later. Then came the funeral. To anyone who has ever organised one, I say congratulations. It is a momentous task, and one I was predominantly responsible for. By the end of the week, I was exhausted. Coming back to Tassie was something of a relief, although short lived.

I’d booked a few flights to Melbourne, planning to spend time with Dad. One of these was the Hobart Show Day long weekend. It was quite sad, knowing I was heading off and he wouldn’t be there for me to spend time with. But my grandmother quickly distracted me from that. I was due to fly out on Wednesday night and on Wednesday morning there was an email from my mama telling me Nan had had a stroke. It was only a mild one, and after going in to see her on Thursday I was quite reassured. She was in relatively good spirits, determined to be up and about as quickly as possible. She was quite lucky in that she did not suffer any cognitive impairment or facial paralysis. Her right side is not doing much, but she’s made significant improvement in her hand and arm all by herself. I am sure she will come along in leaps and bounds now she is finally in rehab.

Now, just to keep me busy, in the middle of all this, mama popped over for a long weekend visit in early October. We played tourist for four days, visiting some new places and revisiting others that have quickly become my favourites.

There was, of course, a trip to the Salamanca Market. No visit to Hobart is complete without stopping in at the market and whiling away a Saturday morning admiring local handcrafts and tasting local produce. Growing up in Melbourne, the Red Hill Market is probably the market of note. But it’s only held once a month, is an hour’s drive from the city (for those of us who choose to avoid toll roads) and is a nightmare for car parking. The appeal of Salamanca ~ for me ~ is the proximity to the city (and me!) and that the market is held weekly, all year round.

We also toured Richmond, stopping for lunch at the bakery ~ which sadly doesn’t do gluten free so mama had an average looking salad ~ and a bit of window shopping. We also drove over the bridge ~ a regular occurrence when we take visitors as Hubby likes to show them Australia’s oldest bridge.

After tasting Grandvewe Cheesery’s offerings at the Salamanca Market, mama was in love. So on Sunday, we ventured out to Birchs Bay to see where the cheese is made, taste a little more and stock up. Apparently, the Vanilla Whey Liqueur is divine. I didn’t try it, but it went on mama’s ‘next time’ list ~ she plans to visit often.

We left Hubby at home for the afternoon and jumped on the car ferry across to Bruny Island. I can’t believe how reasonably priced the ferry is ~ $30 return for a car is pretty good, and it runs regularly throughout the entire day. Of course, it helps if you read the timetable right ~ I had us waiting in the line an hour before we were supposed to return to Kettering because I’d looked at the time for the ferry to Bruny Island!! Oh well. It was a good afternoon driving from one end to the other. We stopped for lunch at The Jetty Café at Bruny Island ~ located at Dennes Point on North Bruny. The food was lovely and mama had no trouble finding something she could eat (gluten and fructose free). The view through the floor to ceiling glass windows across the water was spectacular. Sitting there on a Summer’s day would be perfect (and I look forward to doing just that soon).

After a stop in at Bruny Island Cheese for mama to add to her cheese stash (good thing I had the 4WD and car fridge) we climbed the steps to the look out at The Neck and took a stroll at a little picnic area on the beach just shy of Adventure Bay, before dashing back to the ferry queue to wait in line for an hour!

The highlight from mama’s visit was MONA ~ otherwise known as the Museum of Old and New Art. It’s brilliant. I must admit I was rather sceptical at the idea that an art gallery could be the number one attraction in a state as beautiful as Tasmania with so many natural attractions. And admittedly, there is still a lot of Tasmania I am yet to see. But having visited MONA I now understand the infatuation people have with it. To start with, the location is perfect. Heading up the long, tree lined drive to the impressive, modern buildings of Moorilla Estate (on the grounds of which MONA is located) puts you in the right awe struck frame of mind. Walking into the building across the tennis court and through the mirrored doors keeps the feeling going. And then someone hands you an iPod as you walk in and pay your money (or show your ID if you have a Tassie driver’s license. Apparently, the scar from where the second head was removed is also sufficient). The iPod was it for me. As you walk through MONA, you refresh the display on your iPod to read about the artefacts you are looking at. And you can rate them ~ love or hate. Which I thought was the greatest thing. Art often inspires complete hatred or love in me, and I assume I am not unique in that respect. It was nice to be able to share my reaction, and to see what others thought. There were things I hated that 90 per cent of visitors had loved. I personally did not enjoy the overtly sexual pieces ~ but that’s just me. And given that it’s a pretty consistent theme throughout MONA, obviously others don’t agree with me.

The most interesting ‘artwork’ is one that is hidden behind a closed door, guarded by a MONA staff member (the staff appear to have been hired based on a recruitment strategy similar to that used by Richard Branson when staffing Virgin ~ they’re all young and attractive). I don’t want to give away what’s behind that closed door, because I think not knowing contributes to the experience. All I will say is don’t go in if you’re scared of the dark!

Having seen that MONA lives up to the hype, I am impatiently awaiting MONA FOMA … I hear it’s pretty great. The full program should be available in December. I’m glad I’ve planned to be here for January ~ the festival runs from the 16th to the 20th of January.

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