March 9 - 15, 2014: Issue 153
MONA is a Must-see in Tasmania
Part of MONA built into the hill.
MONA is a Must-see in Tasmania
by Robyn McWilliam

‘Have you been to MONA?’ is the most asked question among tourists in Tasmania. The Museum of Old and Modern Art is on a knoll above the Derwent River some 17 kilometres north of Hobart.

If driving you can put 655 Main Road, Berriedale into your GPS or you can travel by ferry. Admission for mainlanders is $20, concession $15. Taswegians and youngsters are free. The current exhibition is The Red Queen but Monanism is an evolving exhibition that began with this unusual gallery’s opening in 21 January 2011.

Our men folk ride their motor bikes around the traffic-free curvy roads while we ladies start our day at MONA with a morning coffee. We are inducted into the use of the O, rather like a smart phone. It allows you to read about the art on display and listen to interviews with the artists. Afterwards, details of your tour can be sent to your email address.

Friends Annette, Kay and Gayle enjoying coffee.

The bike riders setting off.
Starting on B3, the lowest level, we are advised to work our way upwards. Some of the artworks are confronting; there’s even a section marked parental discretion advised. Most popular with children is the Cloaca, an assembly of suspended glass containers that mimic human digestion. The machine is fed at 11 am and at 2 pm it excretes. Two boys rush in and one reacts straight away, ‘Phew, it stinks.’
The variety of artworks is astounding as is the level of creativity. It’s up to the individual how to react. On one interview I hear the artist say it’s not cool to immediately understand what they are trying to express. But working out the ideas behind some is part of the fun.

Wind Section Instrumental by Cameron Robbins is a wind vane outside connected through pulleys to a pen. This records a drawing of the air’s movement. Wilfredo Prieto’s White Library is a room of pristine glossy cardboard in the form of blank books on shelves with a few opened on tables. Not a word exists in the room, challenging our idea of libraries.

Scar Tissue by Fiona Hall looks like body parts fashioned from steel wool. In fact they are made from video tape using a 3D printer. Each one has a piece of tape leading down to cassette cases of various war movies like Tobruk and Tora Tora Tora.

A room full of dated armchairs are facing ancient TV sets. Each is showing an interview with refugees. Gayle said, ‘I love the babble of voices.’ Annette liked the massive metallic mould of a Buddha. It’s called Berlin Buddha by Zhang Huan. Opposite is a headless artwork composed of incense ash. The statue’s daily disintegration is minute.

My favourite I name Water Words. It’s actually Bit.Fall by Julius Popp. I stand in front of a sandstone wall. From above accompanied by a clattering sound, a machine releases water droplets in the shape of words. These water words fascinate me. I manage to catch the word Afghanistan in a photo.

Our minds abuzz with artworks, we indulge in a late lunch with a glass of MONA’s own Moorilla wine. I choose Korean beef with Kim Chi, seasoned rice and wakami. Its Asian flavours are delightful.

A trip to MONA is a wonderful day out: the scenery, the architecture, the coffee, food and wine. And those stimulating artworks are not just for gallery tragics. It’s great for the senses and the brain to be exposed to such creativity. Unfortunately the gallery does not permit me to share photos of the actual exhibition. So don’t miss MONA on your next sojourn in Tasmania

 A peacock parades the grounds.

Overlooking the Derwent River.
Photographs and Story by Robyn McWilliam, 2014.