I've had several days in Brisbane visiting my daughter and grand-daughter.
Brisbane lived up to its 'beautiful one day, perfect the next' reputation. Bright blue skies, cool nights, too early in Spring for the dreaded Brisbane humidity.
There was a new exhibition to see at the wonderful Queensland Art Gallery - Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado. This is an exhibition that's interesting, rather than engaging. Many of the paintings are drawn from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - the period of Spain's European grandeur and are created to reflect and enhance that grandeur. There are very formal royal and court portraits, including masterpieces by Velasquez, that tell you so much about the nature of the monarchy and the absolutist rule in Spain at the time. There are religious and mythological works that tell you much about how the commisioners of the paintings viewed their world. I found the paintings interesting for what they told me about the world they represented, rather than as emotionally moving art works.
I think these are works that (if you are fortunate enough) are best viewed in situ. The scale of the Prado museum - its immense collection, its maze of grand rooms and its kilometres of corridors adds to the grandeur of the works. So a fun part of this QAG exhibition is its entrance with a video installation recreating the foyer of the Prado, where the perspectives of the architecture change as you move your viewing position.
I also liked a video installation by Spanish artist Francisco Jodice in which he has produced 480 video portraits of visitors to the Prado. This is a fascinating attempt to echo the portraits of the collection by portraying the clothing, hairstyles, jewellery and expressions of contemporary viewers.
I walked my grand-daughter to school and attended her school assembly. She not only was chosen to help distribute the merit awards for the week, but she also received a gold-starred certificate herself, for 'being a great friend'.
[Ana Maria is the tiny pig-tailed figure second on the right in the line of children]
I see so much to like in public schools such as the one my grand-daughter attends. I like the values they so openly encourage and espouse - sharing, inclusion, community, respect, perseverance. I like the way children with disabilities are integrated within the school. I like the fact that the Principal knows all the children by name. I like the way parents, grandparents and siblings feel welcome at the school. I like the diversity of cultural backgrounds. There's much discussion in Australia at present about the need for good teacher quality, which I think is an important and relevant discussion. But I hope that any discussion of teacher quality continues to emphasise the desirability of developing the values so evident in my grand-daughter's school.
I spent my birthday in Brisbane and had a perfect birthday lunch with my daughter. We went to Montrachet, a very traditional French restaurant.
Sometimes in our search for the new and different in food we overlook the pleasures of tried and tested food combinations, perfectly cooked. This was a totally satisfactory lunch. Loved the decor, the food, and the unobtrusive but so competent service.