National Gallery of Australia Podcasts

Official Website

With no real introduction, the podcast series drops you in with only a history on the origins of Melbourne’s train system.  With each solo audio, they give a history of the artists and the land.  The series itself has paintings from landscapes to portraits with the occasional sculpture.  I know this because it gives reproductions of these works you can see when you download these 2007 podcasts.

Good that they let you see these works, because I have fallen in love with this era of Australian art.  The following paragraph consists of me picking which painting left a positive effect on me and why I thought so.  I liked “A Sunday Afternoon” by Tom Roberts.  It reminded me of Rousseau and English print art from the Georgian era.  I loved the deep green lush environment with those figures in the background.  Thomas Baines’s “Gouty Stem Tree” had this nice whimsical look to it thanks to its dark color scheme.  Sidney Nolan created this great fantasy atmosphere with his landscape paintings.  Russell Drysdale’s style calls back to Salvador Dali’s execution.  Howard Taylor’s style resembled this combination of Georges Seurat meets Giorgio di Chirico.  Chirico’s style makes its presence known in Jeffrey Smart’s “Wallaroo”.  I know I mention Surrealism a lot here, but it seems the Australian desert brings about the Surrealist desert trope.  Harry Garlick’s “The Drover” has good framing and gorgeous color schemes.  I love the pretty pinks and blues of the sky and how it works well with the brown tones of the Earth.  Elioth Gruner’s “Murrumbidghee Rangers” emanates this wonderful cool feeling.  The artists featured in this podcast truly treasured this environment.

From realistic to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist style, the artists made gorgeous work.  Not to mention the immense landscape overwhelm any human characters found in these paintings similar to Chinese Daoist paintings.  In other paintings, artists depicted this creeping modernism with machinery and farmers.  An informative reflection on the ever-changing world.  Kudos to the National Gallery for featuring many women artists here.  Active women such as Margaret Preston.  On her painting, I love the way she depicted clouds in “Flying over the Shoalhaven River.”  Elise Blumann also does an amazing job of capturing harsh weather in “Storm on the Swan.”  Nearly all the paintings seem to capture the invisible wind and heat of Australia well.  Cute guitar music in the back, but it did verge on having a bango style twang.  However, it sort of killed the mood during the Jeffrey Smart podcast where the narrator talks about how “eerie” the painting felt.

In another podcast by the same museum, they profile George Lambert.  As with the first one, they offer no introduction on him either.  He did only portraits and sculpture of people.  However, Lambert did the occasional landscape painting besides portraits and genre scenes.  Because the museum provided reproductions, I am able to write about which ones that stood out to me the most.  “Chesham Street” reminded me of Francis Bacon’s style with its dark background and off kilter subject.  Furthermore, the podcast calls his work “Puzzle Paintings” for the unclear narrative, and “Chesham” definitely fits in that term.   Odd, but interesting angle Lambert used in this scene with the man with his exposed torso looking immense while the other looks tiny.  With her hand gestures, “Miss Helen Beauclark” hearkened back to Renaissance paintings such as “Madonna of the Rocks”  by Da Vinci.  Same with “Self Portrait with Gladioli.”

Lambert did a lot of art on military culture from scenes of Gallipoli, to touching sculpture such as “Recumbent Figure of Soldier.”  I also enjoy his portraits of women.  He captures them with so much life and character.  The podcast gives full profiles of these women, their accomplishments, and  their relationship to Lambert.  The series gives a lot of back story behind the models that posed for Lambert.  In fact, we know more about these people than Lambert.  With its fake reflection, “The Convex Mirror” stands out among the selections because Lambert creating something that resembled a reflecting mirror.  How very “Arnolfini Portrait” combined with the distorted reflection of an M.C. Escher painting.  In the audio, the narrator points out that this painting references the Dutch Masters.  The longest podcast goes over three minutes.  They did a good with the background music helps accentuate the narrator’s lecture and has variety from military cadence to somber orchestras for portraits.

ETA: Rewrote a sentence.

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