Monday, August 30, 2010

Peter Tully

In the latest issue of CA News, this piece of Peter Tully's popped up toward the end of the newsletter. From 1980, the piece is entitled 'Australia Belt' coming at the end of about ten years or so of work in which Tully had worked with Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson producing sardonic takes of Australiana, gloriously embracing kitsch, punk, queer and the venal vernacular.

But Peter is perhaps best known for his Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras costumes of the early 1980s onward, a couple of which the Powerhouse Museum has amongst its Mardi Gras ephemera. He managed, well he set up the Mardi Gras workshops from 1983 til 1986.

This was taken by William Yang at the 1981 Mardi Grass. It had progressed from a running battle with police in its first year but had not yet evolved into the community celebration it was to become. As Yang remarked, Peter Tully's costume was "by far the most spectacular costume". Homosexuality between consenting males was still illegal in NSW at the time.

The following year and Peter brought along his entourage...

William Yang, 1982

But the most remarkable of all would have to be the 1990 costume - I can only locate the catalog image from the Powerhouse Museum but it has the benefit of being a high quality image plus a zoom facility.

Two years later, Tully was dead, one of the millions of people to die of an AIDS related illness since the beginning of the pandemic in the late 1970s. Four years before, Eric Michaels had also died prematurely from the same disease. Michaels, the New York Jewish gay urban cowboy anthro who had spent years out with the Warlpiri at Yuendumu who had begun to write a cultural anthropology every bit as audacious and exciting as Tully's design work.

The loss of so many has been beautifully memorialised in William Yang's work but for me it is always summed up when at a fiftieth birthday party for a friend, Grand Fag Hag that she was, who expecting the rooms to be bursting with beautiful young things, cried out,
"But where is everyone?"
A voice from across the room laconically answered, "They're all dead darling."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Riversdale, Shoalhaven River

The Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Art Centre is sited on the property Riversdale on the Shoalhaven River, downstream from Bundanon. It was built between 1996 and 1999, to a design by Glenn Murcutt. The property was bequeathed to the Australian nation by the Boyds for the development of an educational centre which is now focused around Murcutt's award winning building.

Murcutt has focused throughout his career on domestic architecture. Riversdale may represent his most significant public building but he has dealt with detail and scale with the same grace and intellectual curiosity that informs his domestic work. At no point do the volumes of the internal spaces overwhelm the human scale, instead providing a foil, a platform from which to view the dynamic landscape the building sits within.

Viewed externally, the building sits in an extraordinary moment of balance across the topography - neither pushing back into the contours, nor ignorant of the fall of the slopes. As with other Murcutt buildings, the built form has been pulled taunt - the connections between the building's parts as fragile and transparent as they are resilient and implicitly understood.

As you can see from some of the photos, Murcutt's considered use of natural light is present in this building and environs - mass and form seem to change and morph as the light shifts throughout the day. The landscape swells and broods and retreats as it rises and falls out of shadow and density, always bound by the light and mood of the skyscape as you look out from the building. A painterly response as any architect can ask of a building.

Glenn Murcutt: Thinking Drawing/Working Drawing
Glenn Murcutt: University of Washington Master Studios and Lectures 2009

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When Design Gets Serious

Hunting for something, I came across Highlands By Design. I'm still not quite sure what to make of this wee site. Its not as if they're not real or serious or just a virtual figment - they do make serious websites, including a local business directory. Not the usual haunt of a small Postmodern Dance Studio and Marxist Web Development company.

Perhaps I should send them a Satre Celebrity Brooch.