Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sunday in Hobart and Beyond

Though smaller, the Farm Gate Market is a real farmers' one.
There were two things we wanted to do on Sunday before leaving Hobart. One was to visit the Farm Gate Market which was just down the street from our hotel. This is a relatively new market and it is in the heart of town, not on the waterfront. It is a true farmers’ market as the goal is bringing Tasmanian produce and products to the city and allowing the shoppers to get to know the farmers. Hopefully, it will create a following of locals to sustain the market's grown and existence.

I watched this little guy eat fresh cherries
and it made me smile! So cute!
The market’s philosophy is simple: “if you couldn’t eat it, drink it, grow it or meet the producer, then you wouldn’t find it at the market” no more than 20% of a vendor’s items can be from other than the vendor’s own production. You could find fresh everything: free-range eggs, cherries, nuts, butters, breads and baked goods – some gluten-free, seedlings, herbs and spices, olive oil, wines, spirits, jams, mustards, hand blended teas, roasted coffee, pink eye potatoes (they seem to be special here), berries of all kinds, oysters, truffles, flowers and much more. It is smaller than the Salamana Market, but better food items and not many crafts. 

I just love fresh carrots!
After shopping for some fresh fruits and carrots for car snacks, we enjoyed breakfast and some people watching before heading out to see the famous MONA Museum. I loved watching a little blonde boy eat fresh cherries. There was more on his face than in his tummy. He reminded me of our grandson Alex.
Off to MONA. This is the Museum of Old and New Art. And it is a private collection. So I was thinking: some old house along the river with a bunch of antiques and some modern art. Everyone said we must go there, so we did.

The grounds of MONA
Well … was I surprised! Just outside of town, this museum occupies a peninsula on the Derwent River. It is owned by philanthropist David Walsh and is one of the most beautiful and interesting museum buildings I have ever seen. Thinking we would be in and out in less than two hours and on our way, I was stunned by what unfolded before my eyes!

This is a modern art exhibit: the car was smashed
in front and back like being shoved into the cement!
I was curious about David Walsh, thinking he was a wealthy winemaker. He is that, but much more. He is an Australian professional gambler who privately owns a substantial collection of  art, antiquities and a winery. Walsh made his fortune by developing a gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports. In 2001, he founded the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart, which closed in 2007 to undergo $75 Million renovations.

Some of the art installations were huge. Others, ancient.
It was re-opened in January 2011 as the Museum of Old and New Art or MONA. MONA won the 2012 Australian Tourism Award for best new development and is a major Tasmanian tourist attraction. And now he is trying to add a casino only for non-Australians to attract high-roller art lovers from around the world. He must know his audience! Of course, he is battling with the authorities over this. Mr. Walsh is obviously a controversial individual.

The grounds and buildings are new and contemporary. There is a restaurant and a tasting cellar for wine lovers. The vineyards surround the museum. As you enter, there is a simple lobby and ticket counter where the seller advises you to take the stairs or elevator to the bottom floor and work your way up! Okay, let’s find the elevator.
Very strange subject matter. Interesting media.
In the center of the next room, there was a large circular staircase going down. Since the elevator is in the middle of it and it was at the bottom, we decided to walk down – and down and down and … At one point you cross over a bridge into the bottom level and WOW! Walsh describes the place as “a subversive adult Disneyland.”  Lonely Planet says: “Ancient antiquities are showcased next to contemporary works: sexy, provocative, disturbing and deeply engaging.” It was all that and more!

Mission Accomplished!
The architecture of the building is an exhibit in itself. The whole museum is underground, three levels down. It abuts a sheer rock face which creates the interior wall on one side. Three subterranean levels have been cut into the Triassic sandstone river bank. Absolutely stunning! It took my breath away. Not bad for a $75 million AUD private museum. The MONA covers 61,354 square feet of galleries and opened in January 2011. Well worth a visit! No, it is a MUST SEE!

Strange subject matter!
There is a three story rock wall in front of which a waterfall is programed to spill water in the form of words. I tried to capture it as a photo, but it was difficult. I did get a video, but have not yet figured out how to put it in this blog. I will try again, but you may see a void here – again. Check below.
The museum is exhibiting a most interesting and disturbing show of the artworks by Gilbert & George. We didn’t know who they are and had trouble understanding their work. Some of it was utterly disgusting; other pieces were disturbing yet thought-provoking. I am still shaking my head over some. It was a huge exhibit and the pieces themselves are huge, covering a full wall.

I guess I am out of sync with the modern art world as I looked them up and see that they are very well known artists in several media.

They are two artists who work together as a collaborative duo called Gilbert & George. They are known for their distinctive and highly formal appearance and manner and also for their brightly colored graphic-style photo-based artworks.

They have lived in East London for years after having met in school and working together as actors and artists. It is also unusual for one of the pair to be seen without the other. The pair regard themselves as "living sculptures". They refuse to disassociate their art from their everyday lives, insisting that everything they do is art. This explains some of their most weird works. I won’t disturb you with the details, but I found most of it disgusting! Enough!

It was time to hit the road and head north along the east coast of Tasmania. We had a Bed & Breakfast reservation in Richmond. We would need to get there in time to find a place to eat on a Sunday night. Small towns don’t have a lot of options.

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