The museum that reignited interest in Hobart and Tasmania, The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) showcases a whole bunch of wild art and “art wank”.
David Walsh, or God as he is referred to within the grounds of MONA, and quite possibly in some areas of the art and tourism industries in Tasmania too, created this out of his love in all things discombobulating.
It’s a museum that is more open to personal perception and interpretation than I have ever been to. The art can be confounding, and is full of “what the fuck?” reactions.
I find my preferred way to experience MONA is an all encompassing afternoon out with all that MONA and its grounds offer. A meal and a wine or a beer – whatever your poison.
You can even have a bounce on the trampoline – Preferably before you’ve filled up on alcohol and lunch.
Lounge on the lush green grass and bask in the Tassie sun. The world slowly returns to normal after the things you’ve experienced below in the catacombs of the museum.
I’m coming to visit you MONA
My journey begins at the Brooke Street Pier at Franklin Wharf in Hobart Town.
The Mona Roma, or MR-1, in its sleek naval camouflage rolls in to dock. The catamaran ferry’s crew are decked out in grey jumpsuits or camo t-shirts. The Captain of course is in pristine white.
As far as tickets for the ferry adventure go, you have the “posh pit” and “standard” – ie in with the sheep.
At $55 (for your return trip) the posh pit is a little bit exy for my taste, so I settle with the $22 sheep section.
Just one of the sheep
I am one of the first passengers on, and I’m instructed to turn right as I board. I head up some stairs and reach the fake grass rear deck. Resplendent with sheep to sit on among other seating options.
There is a bar where I ask for a Moo Brew Pale Ale. I am heading to it’s sister company, Moorilla winery. This’ll do me for the 25 minute journey up the River Derwent to MONA.
It turns out I timed my beer move poorly, as the hordes arrive quickly taking over my sheep seat. Bugger. I choose to hang with the Moo Cow instead. Maybe I’ll share the beer with her.
It’s a sunny and warm afternoon on the River Derwent as the camo catamaran MR-1 powers up towards its destination. We pass under the Tasman Bridge, then the Bowen Bridge and now David Walsh’s Kingdom is in sight.
I take the opportunity to move to the front deck and straddle one of the two pink missiles that are locked and loaded. This is comfortable. I should have sat here the entire trip.
Disembarking and long striding as much as my stumpy legs will allow me to up the 99 stairs, I reach the ground level where there is a tennis court, a trampoline, and various installations of art and seating areas. Further off to the right are the Moorilla winery grounds, bar and restaurant.
The crowds are in force. Tasmanian’s are a privileged bunch and entry is free at the show of a Tasmanian driver’s licence. Non-Tasmanian’s must pay up for entry. Sorry. Not sorry.
You may like to visit the café before you go down. You might get hungry and thirsty.
There is a lift and stairs to descend deep into the MONA world. The lift is probably the cooler option. I take the stairs to get my daily step count up.
Down, down, down I go.
I collect my O at the collection desk. The O is an essential part of kit for the MONA experience. Some arty wankers may not like being told what the art may or may not represent or be inspired by, but as a lay person, information is king.
The O is an iTouch- type device that provides various levels info on the nearby exhibits. It comes with headphones to listen to the optional commentary and interviews.
Gonzo is David Walsh giving his opinion or the background on the art or artist.
Don’t be ashamed if you get a little lost and retrace your steps a few times. It’s a maze of sorts with all the upstairs, downstairs and loop-de-loop walkways.
The Museum of Everything
Within the museum is the Museum of Everything, which sadly closed on April 2.
I took the opportunity to have a quick peek.
It’s a very colourful collection of art from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries which added a different dimension to the rest of the MONA exhibits.
A Divine Experience with the Creator of MONA
I’m reading the Bit Fall news trying to piece together the information that is falling.
David Walsh is showing a personal guest around – they stop and take in the news too.
I can’t help but introduce myself.
It goes something like this:
“Hi David. I’m Andrew. Nice to meet you.”
He extends his hand slightly and we shake hands.
“Hi Andrew”. He says with a quick and understated smile.
“Are we done here? Good.”
And off he goes… chauffeuring his guest onward.
What is it?
“What is it?” is a question that I ask frequently.
I idle through the exhibits, looking blankly at most, knocked off my feet by others, and look dumbfounded like Clay from 13 Reasons Why the rest of the time as I walk around with the headphones on, reading the summary for some form of identification and understanding. There are no description boards at any piece – that’s what the O is for.
When my interest is sufficiently piqued I delve deeper into the O and read, or listen to the available commentary. I know I will never understand it.
Most of the well known items are here, including the Snake, the Great Wall of Vaginas, more colloquially known as The Wall of Cunts, and the Shit Machine.
It’s reassuring to see the Great Wall of Vaginas still get the varying reactions from patrons. I hope the perennially offended write reviews.
No pics of the cunts sorry, you’ll have come and visit or look them up on the net.
The Shit Machine is in its digesting phase. The omnipresent stink resides. Unfortunately, I missed both feeding and shitting times (NB. it feeds at 11am and 4pm, and poos at 2pm). Bad AJ. Bad.
The encyclopaedia is kinda cool.
One of the current bizarre exhibits is Tattoo Tim. He has tattoos on his back. He sits in the same spot for about 6 hours daily. Onerous. But, hey its art.
Throughout the museum there are films being shown on loop. I try to sit through a couple of these from start to finish. An interesting film was one on the of human perception vs art perception.
Shuffling on I realise I have viewed the same section before.
There is wall mounted and framed artwork, you know like in a “normal” art gallery. Some of it appears to me as “spot the difference” drawings, but I’m not quite sure and no longer bothered to check the O.
The positioning of each piece is not random, there is a relationship there somewhere. Even though that relationship may be that it is in there in isolation. Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. Right?
Time to go up for air
I have sought out as much art as I can stand (and find). My concentration has begun to wane, plus I’m now thirsty and tired.
There is so much to look at and be perplexed by. I forgive you if you too experience brain drain.
I know I missed a heap of the art, so please tell me about it.
Additional: I missed the ENTIRETY of the Pharos exhibition. FML. Stay tuned for the follow up in a few days… weeks… no, yes, days.