I met Kate for lunch at Hingara today. It’s been a favourite spot of ours for a couple of years and today was a great example of why: the BBQ pork was stunning. Walking down George Street later this evening Kate commented, “Do you realise we’ve been talking about that pork on and off most of the afternoon?” Also at lunch was an artist friend of Kate’s called Pamela Mai-Leng See, who was recently signed by Boutwell Draper Gallery in Redfern. Some of her works are featured in a small group exhibition, Heavenly Bodies, currently on show at the Asia-Australia Arts Centre.
As we enjoyed the meal we also had to keep a close eye on the clock, as Pamela was due to speak at the gallery at around two o’clock. Although she has worked mostly in paper-cuts, and many of these were on display, she has recently moved into other media including stainless steel. The very large stainless steel works currently on display are very dramatic, and I like them very much. During her talk, she touched on issues of identity, as a Chinese-Australia who has lived and worked in both China and Australia. “Here my works are often considered very exotic, whereas in China they’re sometimes considered a little kitsch”.
As a young Chinese-Australian, another artist, Suzan Liu spoke about the significance of watching Monkey (although we saw the Japanese television program, it was based on an important Chinese story) on television as a child. Her work, a projection on a number of different surfaces was strongly influenced by the program. At one point during her talk, she was asked a really complex question about symbols in traditional Chinese art, to which she replied simply didn’t know. There was an assumption, I guess, from the audience member that as a Chinese-Australian she would have known everything to know about Chinese art. A bit like the assumption that’s made that all Asian-Australians can speak their own traditional languages. As I said to someone recently, my family came to Australia speaking Gaelic, so you wouldn’t assume I could speak that, would you? Dunno, she said, ¨but I should find out¨.
The other artist who spoke was Greg Leong who works mostly with costumes and digital photography. The oldest of the three artists, and the most eloquent, he spoke with a great deal of intelligence and humour, touching also on issues of identity.
After the exhibition, Kate and I wandered around for a while, and I bought new a suitcase.
From there, we headed off to the movies, though with no particular movie in mind. In the end, we settled on No Country for Old Men, the new film by the Coen Brothers. It was honestly one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen, up there with Silence Of The Lambs in terms of sustained tension. There are several intersecting plotlines to the film which centres around what happens when a fairly ordinary bloke discovers a bag full of money from a drug deal which went wrong, and his pursuit by an opportunistic serial killer. For a good while I had no idea where the film was headed, and even at the end I was still unsure about the film’s purpose. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to you.
After the movie, a further bite to eat in Chinatown, and that was my Saturday.