Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A relentless currency


Much navel-gazing is given to the relentness nature of the 24-hour news-cycle; the desperate need to fill each hour, to rust-on each listener, to cut swathes through the advertising dollar. Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame is over in five. Mediocrity is the new black: it is plentiful; it is cheap; and, it is expendable.

One of the consequences of this desperate, lemming-canter to the abyss, is that the worthy of generations past, fade into obscurity. Brilliance is still celebrated, although through a mirror darkly, but 'worthiness' goes unremarked. So, travel with me for a few days, back into last century, whilst I muse upon the worthiness of two little-remarked Australians: Bill Dobell, and Mary Gilmore.

Bill Dobell painted a stand-out portrait of Mary Gilmore, which was subtley included in the background of our $10 note. Gilmore - poet, journalist, and socialist - died in 1962, aged 97. Dobell - sculptor and painter - died in 1970, aged 71.

12 comments:

Joe said...

Wow Julie, I am intrigued. The drums are thumping, the violins are staining and the orchestra is whipping into a crescendo. Suddenly all is quiet in anticipation of your next post.

Julie said...

Hah, steady on.

What I need to know though, is have you ever heard of either of them?

freefalling said...

"lemming-canter to the abyss"
hahaha!!
cantering lemmings

Joan Elizabeth said...

Wow you have pulled together some interesting visual threads here.

I like Dobell's art and Mary Gilmore's poems.

Julie said...

I toured Dobell's house at Wangi Wangi last Saturday.

diane b said...

That is a speech! I remember learning about them at school or was it teaching about them? I remember the fuss over the Dobell painting. Looking forward to the next instalment.

Mark said...

Both very interesting so look forward to the next few posts.

Jo said...

looking forward to the next few days.

FigMince said...

I love (and will unashamedly plagiarise) your 'mediocrity is the new black', Julie. The whole Dobell/Gilmore business was about someone pushing the boundaries and going somewhere beyond the parameters of the art world's existing comfort zone.

Sadly, it's happening all around us. With too few exceptions, our contemporary Australian society seems to be aspiring to mediocrity – with everyone trying to outdo each other in celebrating their ordinariness as proudly as possible. And while that may be very democratic, somehow 'equality' has come to mean everyone trying to be no better than anyone else, rather than being as good as they could be.

It seems to me that while people once took risks because they wanted to win, these days they play it safe because they don't want to lose – and there's a difference there.

I was never really able to work out why John Howard's 'chattering elite' categorisation was so effective – but then I realised he was playing to the also-rans stupid enough to resent excellence.

My oft-used joke is that I'm only an elitist because I'm better than most.

Jim said...

I went to school with her grandnephew.

Julie said...

I wondered what relies she left behind, because someone did something really strange with her ashes. Her son died in 1945 aged 47, so I figured her to at least have had grandchildren.

I aM working out the next two posts this morning. Gotta run ...

PerthDailyPhoto said...

All of a sudden my ten dollar notes have become so much more interesting Julie!