The Australia Day Honours announced on Friday celebrate everything this country is about – fairness, honesty, having a go, mateship… and shitting it in at the last second. Who better personifies everything our great nation has come to stand for than Steven Bradbury, gold medal winning skater at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games? Honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for “services to sport” Bradbury is a bloke after our own hearts having won his gold in Salt Lake City by being the last man standing after the rest of the field were taken out in a freak collision. It might have actually meant something if Bradbury had even been trying, but as the great man said himself:
I was the oldest bloke in the field and I knew that skating four races back to back, I wasn’t going to have any petrol left in the tank. So there was no point in getting there and mixing it up because I was going to be in last place anyway. So I might as well stay out of the way and be in last place and hope that some people get tangled up.
In completely unrelated news, the visual arts were recognised in the Australia Day honours, but unlike sportspeople who are recognised simply for doing, visual arts tends to be recognised for making art visible rather than by actually making it. Janet Holmes a Court therefore as awarded a Companion of The Order of Australia [AC] for being a patron of the arts, lobbying for free-to-air children’s TV and “supporting victims of torture and trauma”. She also has her own eponymous art gallery in Perth which is a very nice air conditioned place with many fine works of art to rival the collections of the East Coast. Arise Madame Holmes a Court! [Fun Janet fact: the great lady’s assistant will not pass on faxes or emails that contain spelling mistakes or bad grammar as she is a busy woman and cannot abide such things!] In a similar vein, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis was awarded an Order of Australia [AM] for building infrastructure projects as head of his late father’s company Transfield Holdings. He also has something to do with the arts too, some sort of show that’s on every couple of years, but we’re not sure if that’s all that significant.
Tony Bond was awarded an OAM for “stimulating debate and public understanding of contemporary international art” through his work as a curator at the Art Gallery of NSW. Not many curators in Australia deserve an actual award for their work but Bond certainly does, and especially so considering the amount of crap he’s had to put up with for the last couple of decades for stimulating the “debate”. The current conspiracy theory is that The Esteemed Critic nominated Bond as some sort of fiendish “so crazy it may just work” ploy but it seems to have backfired terribly. Arise Sir Tony! Across town at the College of Fine Arts two staff members have been awarded OAM’s – Professors Elizabeth Ashburn and Peter Pinson Ashburn for “service to the visual arts, contemporary Australian art, education and the community” and Pinson for “service to the visual arts and as an educator, painter and writer and through contributions to arts organisations.”
The only actual artist we are aware if receiving an award is Denise Green who was awarded an AM for “services to the arts, particularly abstract painting and promoting Australian art and artists.” How does someone who has lived in New York since 1966 manage to promote Australian art and artists? It all became clear when we remembered what a nice wicket Green is on, touring US Embassies promoting her book Metonymy In Contemporary Art: An Approach To Art Criticism and Modes of Creativity by Australian Aboriginal and Indian Thought. We have to confess to not having read her book but it’s on our “to read” pile just under The Great War, that new Andrew McGahan and the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records left over from Xmas. Since Green has been doing a great job perhaps Alexander Downer had a word to someone?