New MCA

Even though it’s a few weeks since the official opening, today was the first time I’ve had the chance to take a look at the new-look “Museum of Contemporary Art” in Sydney. Kate was in town for the day, and so I took an early mark from work and met her there late this afternoon.

On first thought, the new-look MCA shouldn’t “work”. The contrast an older stone building with something new and concrete flies in the face of what popular culture would deem a good renovation. If you watch one of those home renovation shows, it’s all about “dodgying up”, “making new things look old” and “old things look new” and “making sure everything matches”. But I think it’s precisely because the two buildings don’t “match” that it works so very well.

Oh, and the fact they’ve really “embraced” Circular Quay with the new design. I always had the feeling the MCA “just happened” to be at The Quay, whereas now it’s very much part of the environment. There’s a rooftop cafe, for example, which affords STUNNING views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The MCA now looks like a “contemporary” art space.

Inside, the MCA seems SOOOOO much larger, even though the actual additional space probably isn’t that much. But once you remove a few stairwells and “wasted space”, you have so much more to play with, I guess.

Previously, I’ve always had a feeling there wasn’t all that much art on “display”, whereas now it feels as though there’s lots to see. And indeed, there is so much more to see. We didn’t stay for a long, and so I’ve promised myself a return visit next weekend.

The renovation isn’t complete yet, as they’ve yet to finalise the outdoor landscaping. It will be interesting to see how they approach this, and whether the apparent theme of “embracing” The Quay contines.

As we wandered around the MCA, and as we left we spotted the singer, Paul Kelly, and so Kate offered thanks to him for his performance at last night’s Jimmy Little Celebration Concert. “Thanks”, he said, “it’s really great for performers to hear this kind of thing”. Kate and I then discussed whether or not Australians are a little shy about that kind of thing, going up to a performer and saying thanks. We concluded, “yeah probably”. “We probably feel like we don’t want to invade their private space”, I added.

Kate and I settled on a late afternoon/early evening meal at “Spice I Am“. I’ve been there a few times; it was Kate’s first. We were there early enough so there were only a handful of people, in stark contrast to its “normal” state of being completely full to overflowing.

It was lovely catching up, as always, and especially since Kate is heading back to China in a couple of weeks.

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