The Ephemeral Nature of Power

Close friends of ours recently visited Venice for the first time. I loaned them a map book of the city that I purchased in 1996, my first visit to Venice. I wasn’t worried about its accuracy. After nearly eight hundred years of existence, not much structural change has occurred. It is a walking city as there are no cars or roads only boats and canals. Bicycling is not easy because of the cobblestones.

Our friends returned laden with beautiful glassware from Murano, stories of their adventures and gratitude for the map book as they were lost and found many times with its’ aid. They fell in love with Venice as did I. They saw children playing and young families in the neighbourhood where they stayed in an apartment. In that way, Venice still lives. But they were awestruck by how wealthy Venice had once been. From the 9th to the 12th centuries, Venice was a city-state (like modern-day Singapore). It was, at its height, the greatest shipping centre by the 13th century. From the 15th to the 18th century, Venice was in decline. And yet, it still lives. People commute via traghetti (ferries) to work, children attend school, and commerce flourishes still mostly through tourism.

On the way to lunch!

As I bicycle around Sydney noting the monuments in Hyde Park and St. James and the sandstone buildings in the CBD, I have often been struck by the ephemeral nature of time. The custodians/politicians/leaders of Australia are here today and will be gone tomorrow. What legacy will they leave for our country? What monuments, laws, policies will remain when they depart?

The skyscraper is the modern take on the monument.

And then by bicycle, I attended the exhibition “Based on a True Story” by Matthew Quick at Nanda\Hobbs Contemporary commercal art gallery in the city.  I know one of the founders through a mutual friend who still works at the bank. As I adore contemporary art, my interest was piqued and I read about the artist in the Australian Financial Review

Ralph Hobbs, wrote in the catalogue,

“The power of great civilisations is reflected in their monuments. [Matthew] Quick, though asks us to consider what is left when the empires pass.  It is the detritus that remains when power has faded that is at the heart of his work. Quick spares few cultures in his quest to disclose the rhetoric of the accepted history of a place.”

Ralph Hobbs of Nanda\Hobbs Contemporary introduces Matthew Quick.

At the opening, I was struck by Matthew’s skill as an artist painting neo-classical figures in the modern context. I saw paintings of living breathing statues captured in a moment while wearing rubber gloves to wash up, Bernini’s David in rollers to keep his hair glorious, Poseidon in floaties.

We spoke about his technique of using sepia paint to create a warm glow from within.

A special thrill to meet Matthew Quick at the exhibition.

It was an excellent exhibition to view for its humourous interpretation of classical art forms from the East and West. But the subtext leads the viewer to think about the meaning of wealth and power and the ephemeral nature of each.

And then I bicycled home easily via Castlereagh Street as Nanda\Hobbs is based on Level 1, 66 King Street just off the Kent Street Cycleway. The exhibition continues until 27 November 2015.

Happy Cycling!

x Sarah

Today’s ensemble: Princess Polly Boutique dress, Geox t-strap heels, Yakkay helmet, Witchery sunglasses, Swarovski earrings, Cartier Santos, Linus Eleanor Bag, Gazelle Orange e-bike.


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