New NGA Chief Hailed by Dubbo Liberal
The appointment of the head of the Art Gallery of South Australia Ron Radford to the directorship of the National Gallery of Australia last week has been hailed by Helen Musa of the Western Plains news daily The Dubbo Liberal as a decision that “combines brilliant scholarship with corporate savvy”.
Ms Musa, the arts editor of the popular regional newspaper, also outlined the intense speculation surrounding the appointment: “Currently the director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Mr Radford, 54, will become the NGA’s fourth director after one of the country’s most hotly contested races outside the political arena.”
Radford will be the fourth director of the NGA, reported Musa, a journalist whose work is syndicated from the Canberra Times to publications in Dubbo, Ballarat and the Molonglo Catchment area. Musa reports that Radford is also flamboyant and reluctant. “The flamboyant Mr. Radford is believed to have been a reluctant starter for the job, loath to leave Adelaide,” reported Musa. “He is known as a brilliant scholar equally conversant with Aboriginal art and the Old Masters, and is a skilful seeker of support in the corporate sphere.”
Musa spoke for many readers when she quoted Andrew Sayers, director of the National Portrait Gallery, who predicted yesterday that Mr. Radford would do “a superb job”.
Local Government Body Defends Tendering Process
Local residents of the City of Stirling in Western Australia are reportedly ‘furious’ over plans to erect a statue of a woman with bare breasts outside the Civic Building Complex. According to reports, residents declare the sculpture “a waste of money, inappropriate and demeaning to women.” But a local government official hit back at critics saying the City of Stirling Council had followed long-established tendering procedures.
Regular readers of The Art Life will no doubt recall the involved and sometimes controversial tendering process for the $94,600 sculpture project which was awarded to artist Tony Jones ahead of other noted applicants including Rodney Glick, Stuart Green, Ahmed Abas and Phil Gresley, Jon Tarry, Anne Neil and Steve Tepper and Tony Pankiw. Artist Rick Vermey was unable to tender due to his late submission and Lorenna Grant’s proposal was rejected after it was found to be non compliant with the guidelines for the project. A second round, or “short list”, was drawn up with artist ask to supply further details to Council. As was reported in the City of Stirling, Agenda for Ordinary Meeting of June 1, 2004:
“The Civic Building Complex Public Art Committee met on Thursday 20 May 2004 to consider the expressions of interest and to short list the tenderers to be invited to submit a tender. The EOI were short listed utilising the criteria,quality of previous artwork, skills and experience. Attachments EOI 70.2003/04 Major Sculpture Project – B and EOI 71.2003/04 Paving Art Project – B indicates the scores. In the case of the Major Sculpture Project it is proposed that the first 4 artists be invited to tender as follows Stuart Green, Jon Tarry, Tony Jones, and Rodney Glick.”
The Stirling City Civic Building Complex comprises an Administration building of 7,000m² of nett lettable area over five levels, a Civic Building of some 2,500m², and car parking for 250 cars. The building accommodates approximately 280 staff. Known as the Paving Art Project, the sculpture competition was launched to help beautify the Civic Building Complex which has been the subject of repeated vandalisation by graffiti ‘bombers’.
The story of the sculpture and the outrage of local residents has attracted intense national media interest as the following was reported in AAP.
Elaine McNeill, the president of the Stirling-Osborne Coalition of Resident Ratepayer Groups, said she had been inundated with calls from female ratepayers who believed it was inappropriate to have a partly naked woman in front of a public building. Jones said his brief was for an artwork that welcomed people into the new centre and he could not see how it could be demeaning to women.
Stirling chief executive Lindsay Delahaunty defended the $94,600 price tag, saying the funds were allocated under a State Government policy.
Top Ten Art Books Selling Well
In a list generated by data supplied by Nielsen Book Scan sales monitoring 1000 retailers nationwide, The Art Life can report that Sarah Kelly’s authoritative The Encyclopedia Of Mosaic Techniques has topped art book sales for the first time. Hailed as a worthy addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in the art of mosaic techniques, the handsomely illustrated volume will suit both beginners and more advanced enthusiasts.
At number two on the list is How To Buy And Sell Art by Michael Reid, who advises readers to buy what they like, not what they think is a good investment, and look at neglected areas of art, such as works on paper, the paintings of emerging artists and under appreciated schools such as French Impressionism.
Following Reid’s handy reference guide at the number three spot is a new Vincent Van Gogh book called Vincent By Himself edited by Bernard Bruce, a handsomely illustrated guide to the work of Van Gogh, with many plates in colour, and featuring letters by the one-eared wonder of Post Impressionism to his family, friends and creditors with handsome reproductions of his most popular paintings, drawings and pastels.
What’s Wrong With Contemporary Art? by Peter Timms arrives at number four, a tightly argued and persuasive corrective to the slackening of standards in Australian art and art schools. With few pictures and no index, Timms’ book will suit older readers used to more text, but rewards careful reading and has many anecdotes that readers can use to impress friends and colleagues.
At number five is Monet by Himself, edited by Richard Kendall is quite unlike any other book on this popular artist, bringing together his letters to family, friends and creditors with handsome reproductions of his most popular paintings, drawings and pastels.
The list in full:
1.The Encyclopedia Of Mosaic Techniques
2. How To Buy And Sell Art
Allen & Unwin, $29.95
3. Vincent By Himself
Bernard Bruce (editor)
Little, Brown, $12.99
4. What’s Wrong With Contemporary Art?
University of New South Wales, $29.95
5. Monet By Himself
Richard Kendall (editor)
Little, Brown, $16.95
6. Art, History, Place
Working Title, $12.95
7.Illustrating Children’s Books
Martin Salisbury Alien & Unwin, $35
9. The New Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain
G P Putnam’s, $33
10. Simpsons Comic Madness
Matt Greening HarperCollins, $24.95