Experimental Gentlemen : Music Meets Art
When the likes of some of Australia's most poignant artists created there masterpieces to mirror the colonial setting of a pioneer new world Australia, they surely didn't hypothesize a counterpart of contemporary rock music.
Experimental gentlemen' is an interactive art exhibition complied of artworks from the Grimwade collection including pieces by John Skinner Prout, William Strutt, Augustus Earle, Alexander Shaw, John Glover and other relish able names from an older world.
The title Experimental Gentlemen is a term given to the adventuring likes of Charles Darwin who traveled the globe in search of enthralling escapades. The work is a compendium of famous colonial art and is hosted by the passion filled Henry Skerrit of The Holy Sea. Skerrit who is one of Australia's most sought after contemporary rock musicians is a jack of all trades and notes that while music is a massive part of his life that it was "very exciting," to bring two of his passions to unite.
The exhibition pairs classic Australian art with more contemporary sounds. Using the works of Aussie rock acts like Mick Thomas, Mark Berry, Benezra, Catherine Traicos, Dave Graney, Garreth Liddiard, Kev Carmody and Don Walker to bring a new found light and focus to art from a different time. As well stars the work of Charles Jenkins a Melbourne based singer songwriter initially known for his work in Aria award-winning band Ice Cream Hands and now for his impressive work on four solo albums including 2008's Blue Atlas and his song Maria.
Maria tells a tale of Abel Tasman a dutch sea fairer and explorer and his love for the baby faced 'Mariah' the young daughter of Tasmans sponsors. So young that their love was forbidden. "I'm not so sure how much of the story is fact or fiction, but that's not really any concern of mine," laughs Jenkins. 'There are all of these places named after her like Mariah Island and I could just imagine Abel going a bit insane in all of these places and he's just thinking about her being there."
Skerrit who has a fine arts degree from the University of Melbourne and whom is the recipient of the Grimwade internship at the Ian Potter Arts Centre says that a big part of the project is about engaging new audiences with different mediums.
"I guess I'd never thought about bringing the two things together before," notes Henry. "I guess the aim and hardest thing with work like this is making people feel more interested in it, - in the same radical way that we think of our art. It is absolutley about trying to say to people this is actaully really interesting. I'ts been really rewarding seeing young people engage with the material and on the same note I can get older people engaging with the rockbands."
Theart featured is heavily from as early as the 1700s. The collection originally put together by another passion filled man Sir Russel Grimwade who graced the world between 1879 and 1955 is all about the 'Australian historical narrative.
Composed of hundreds and hundreds of relished books, countless photographs and even Alexander Shaws catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook. Only to mention over 600 artworks matched with a soundtrack of contemporary music that almost any one could appreciate.
Henry adds that it's about making a statement about colonial Australia. "It's not as different as we would think. We would love to think we are smarter and nicer but if you look at people we are still going through the same ideas that they (pioneer Australia) were in tune with - Its really important to look at art and history. Those ideas are the ones that shape our understanding of the world around us."
So what would Grimwade think? "It's hard to speak on behalf of dead people though I think he would approve. All artists want people to continually rethink and re-debate their art. The artists would find it really exciting. They died hundreds of years ago and still young artists still find inspiration in their work. Plus they are dead anyway, so they won't complain."
The Ian Potter Museum Of Art will hold the Experimental Gentlemen exhibition until September 25. You can find it at the University of Melbourne, Swanston Street (Between Elgin and Faraday streets), Parkville, 3010. Visit them online at art-museum.unimelb.edu.au or in person at the museum from Tuesday-Friday 10am - 5pm: Saturday and Sunday 12pm - 5pm.Admission is free so you have no excuses. Don't miss out on this one.