Saturday was a day of two halves. The daytime portion spent at the splendid surrounds of the Heide Museum of Modern Art, an artists sanctuary and vitally important to the ‘cultural milieu’ of Melbourne, while the evening was spent at the MCG, the home of sport!
The Heide story is an intriguing one, artists John and Sunday Reed bought a grassy hillled plot near the banks of the Yarra in Bulleen that had been operating as a dairy farm since the 1880s. The couple are both artists, and advocates for modern art, and the farmhouse is converted to a space that is part studio, part gallery and filled with knowledge, art works, books and journals and like minded souls to become a hub of modern Australian art. The Reeds circle of influence and inspiration included Sydney Nolan, who painted his famous Ned Kelly series there, Albert Tucker and Arthur Boyd.
It is a place that carries a real sense of magic and possibility about it. Every window has an inspiring outlook, and there is a curious ‘conversation pitt’ with a low couch and carpet made of black sheep’s wool. Outdoors were ancient oaks, heritage listed meticulous gardens and hills dotted with sculptures.
There are five diverse artists currently showing, two, Albert Tucker and Mirka Mora, having sprung from the sphere of Sunday and John, so flitting their works returning to the place that inspired them. There was an artist talk for the retrospective of Gunter Christmann that enlightened what was a very influential and experimental five decade career. The whole visit was a really immersive experience, with the walls being as important as the things hanging on them.
We then went on an ultimately fruitless bagel chase through Melbourne’s rainy east, but we weren’t able to make it in the Glick of time, so went to Coles instead.
Gametime. Hawthorn V the ladder leading Swans, who were chasing a club record 13 games straight winning streak. I blooded & beered up and headed into town, and when faced with the short few blocks down Swanson to Flinders, attempted my first ever fare evading, only for the ticket inspectors to come maurauding on the very next stop. Was able to tap on before the tickets started flying around thankfully.
The walk from the city to the ‘G is one of the world’s great ones, as anyone who has listened to Bill Lawry would know. Down beside the Princes Bridge, flanking the Yarra through Birrarung Marr, past the Federation Bells, which were ringing out the Hawks and Swan songs, and up over the bridge, with the ground poised on the horizon like a crown, the great light towers glowing like jewels as they cast their imposing glow over the night sky.
The buckets rattled, as charity collectors, footy record sellers and naff kid buskers all competed for your coins. Then the first smell of chips looms and bodies scatter and in all directions as you hit the concourse, the united stream of people diverge, divided by class, status and colours into their own segment of this great colosseum.
After ascending more escalators than a shoppers day at Westfield, I finally came to my seat just past the base camp of the Olympic Stand after seeing a recreation of the original hand quilled rules of Australian Rules football, ‘thought shall not hold thyne ball!’ on the way up.
Aptly, being multicultural round, I was surrounded by a large excitable lingually mysterious group, who sat there mostly baffled, but occasionally cheering at the right moments. The focus of the crowd, and the build up for most of the week had been on Buddy, who defected from the hawks for a big hunk of coin and a crash course in Sydney living at the end of last season. The poo and wee clad fans booed like mad things any time he went anywhere near the ball, which was quite a bit, with eight marks and seven shots on goal in the first half, which had they been online could have changed the contest, but at 2 goals 5 kept the game as a close, gripping contest. Sydney did seem quite defensive, and more intent on guarding possession instead on attacking, and were praying on turnovers to pounce with quick-moving counter raids, but this was Hawthorn, kicking at their usual high efficiency, so chances were few and far between. The swans even had a spare man in defence, so it was low scoring all round.
I met up with a fellow former Kookaburra (my old team) at half time, and had a great chat involving many nicknames and yarns, and we watched the second half from the standing room on level four. The Swans surged with Goodes and Tippet looming large, and were 23 points up at one stage. But the hawks, and Rougy playing his 200th got involved (he’s too nice, I’d even billet him in my house for the weekend, but he’s just too friendly to take a contested mark, my hawks supporting friend lamented at one point) and the home side kicked eleven goals in the second half to run out winners by ten points. There were moments scripted perfectly for freakish goals only buddy could kick, but he, and his team-mates could just manage the simple, and sometimes not even that as the pressure mounted and every spilt mark, missed target or awry set shot was magnifie into a lapsed chance. It was an amazing atmosphere, almost 73,000 in the crowd, a game of magnitude and a game the papers called an Aussie Rules classic, but it just felt like another Saturday night for most. This really is the home of football.