An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

Not having any natural offspring to call my own, Father’s Day might slip by unnoticed in our household. Ruby, however has different ideas on this and as an integral part of the family, takes it on herself to be the surrogate daughter and celebrate the day anyway. This year she must have decided that my cultural horizons needed attention and miraculously organized a visit to MONA. She chose not to come with us as her artistic leanings tend to be more beach-oriented and definitely more olfactory in nature.

It was an early start to make the 10.30 MONA ferry for the twenty-minute trip up the Derwent. Ruby picked the coldest day with kunanyi cloaked in snow and a very icy wind sweeping across the water ensuring our coats, gloves and scarves were essential apparel. The one hundred steps up from the ferry terminal to the entrance are a daunting prospect.

What struck me way before the incredible art works and installations was the engineering and architecture of the place – the whole structure seemingly carved out of the sandstone bedrock. More galleries appear to be under construction as we speak.

One can only marvel at some of the exhibits that leave you awe-struck, stimulated and overwhelmed all at the same time. The water curtain that spells words as the water tumbles to the floor or the multi-screened theatre showcasing dance, the topical news rendered in bread sculptures, and the fire-ravaged landscape were intriguing;

The reflective, shiny cocoon, the fat red car and the wall of ‘see you next Tuesdays’ were more whimsical and fun. Amongst all the weird and wonderful, it was interesting to note that the Arthur Boyd’s, the Brett Whiteley’s and the Del Kathryn Barton’s held their own.

Lunch at The Source did not disappoint either. Shared platters of beetroot and broad beans and chorizo-infused custard with fennel followed by blue-eye trevally with scallops and squid in squid-ink for me and a baked cheese soufflé for Jan. I couldn’t resist a dessert of strawberries, panna cotta, cucumber sorbet and gin and tonic jelly.

I can’t help but be impressed by the philanthropy of David Walsh – not only to curate such an amazing art collection, but to make it free for all Tasmanians to enjoy. An added bonus of our Ruby-inspired visit is that like every other person we know, we can now say, “Yes. We have been to MONA”. We no longer have to feel culturally deprived and inferior to all and sundry.

There was, of course a price to pay for our wonderful day trip. The provider of the experience was a psychological mess when we got home. Being left all day to her own devices proved too stressful for Ruby and she went through all the usual darting about, diving under furniture, dribbling and manic behaviour to show her displeasure and genuine concern at our absence.

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