It didn’t bode well for our picnic yesterday when I heard the rain drumming down on our corrugated iron roof. But the clouds cleared and it turned into the most beautiful day for our end of year outing for Beth’s Art Group. Five of us headed down to Heide Museum of Modern Art with our goodies (food being a major part of our expeditions …), stashed them away at the front desk, and toured the collections.

I think we tortured Tony, the poor guy at the door who had the job of trying to keep the volume of our chatter down, and stopping us from excitedly trying to take photos or accidentally stepping over the white lines surrounding some bizarre sculptures. It was very funny to hear the straightest member of our group (ex-chemist – what can you say) – being told he was “the naughtiest” of us all! (Who on earth looks for a white line on the floor, for goodness sake?).

But Tony was magnificent on trying to explain the story behind the artwork of Del Kathryn Barton, who was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s “The nightingale and the rose”. I love the detail of her paintings, especially the patterns of millions of tiny dots swirling around the images – but I have to admit that she lost me at the “breasts” on the nightingale (a theme she seems keen on). I do a lot of life drawing, so I don’t consider myself a prude, particularly, but I’ll admit I wondered “why”? As an illustrator, I wondered what they added to the story. In my eye they detracted from the artwork. But if she was trying to get us thinking, then I suppose it worked! (I can’t pretend to be much of an art critic. Looking for hidden meanings tends to remind me of high school and a pretentiousness that doesn’t sit well with me. Or maybe I’m just lazy.)

Anyway, we wandered on, pondering the strange artworks from a range of artists that seemed to include all sorts of private parts in weird combinations that were beyond my understanding. (How does a male appendage, a spider and a house fit together in the one sculpture?). Clearly, I have a lot to learn …

We held off on filling our stomachs for an hour or so, but there is only so long you can wait for one of Laziza’s amazing salads, Jenny’s pilaf and Beth’s chocolate stash (it had that amazing moon rock stuff that explodes in your mouth and takes you back to childhood immediately). Full, I headed a few steps from our banquet to plonk myself in front of Jeff Thompson’s corrugated iron cows. The peace was interrupted by the squeals of kids playing hide and seek amongst the trees, but it was such a feel good space to be in. The sun warmed me without burning, ants crawled amongst my watercolours and just got swept into my picture without mercy, and I had a lovely, lovely time.

What a wonderful way to spend a day.

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