A sudden interest in the “Fringe World Festival: Amusements for the Masses“, happening on 29th January to 19th of February in Perth, has led me to discover a personally unchartered territory in the city. Various activities I wanted to attend during the festival are happening in Perth Cultural Centre and I had no idea where it is. I have decided to leave it until the day of the events to find out where this venue is but, as luck would have it, I found the cultural centre by accident.
There is a free public bus in the city centre that goes ’round and ’round the same route and there is a stop called “museum”. Years of taking this bus I’ve always made a mental note to check out what lies in “museum” but it was always put it off for something less intriguing like shopping. Alas, I actually got off the bus on this hot and sun-glaring day and started walking towards what looked like an old building. Behold! Standing next to it is the Western Australian Museum; and that, my friend, was the beginning of my hip happening intellectually stimulating day in Downtown Perth. I was only in the city for a haircut and I got side tracked (not that I’m complaining).
A major part of the reason of wanting to visit the WA Museum was to check out the “Extraordinary Stories from the British Museum” temporary exhibition. I have seen the ad for this since last year but I procrastinated until now to check it out. Well the other reason was to cool myself down with free airconditioning. Going in I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought only 1 exhitbition ran at a time but I was wrong. There’s an exhibit of animals as well and it took a few turns before I found the British Museum exhibit thanks to the helpful staff on site. The exhibit itself was fairly small. A few artefacts here and there from various Commonwealth countries ranging from millions of years ago to the recent years. It was an educational experience overall and here are some of the things that stood out for me.
The first statue of Buddha – it’s remarkably different from the gold Buddha statues I am accustomed to when I see them in temples.
Coca-cola coffin – apparently, a coffin serves as an indication of the kind of life lived by the deceased person.
Handgun stool – a chair made of guns to symbolise the end of war and conflict. After taking back or confiscating all the guns art was formed because people did not know what to do with all the extra guns.
Still in the same precinct, I saw the State Library. Do you know when was the last time I was in a library? Two years ago studying for final exams before graduating. Wow. I didn’t realise how long it has been until I typed up those words. The university library used to be my home and I loved every minute I spent with books.
I am quite impressed with how modern looking the State Library is. It looks scholarly (as in it feels very inviting for a study session) and has sufficient air conditiong on a hot summer day. I didn’t check out the collection of books they had but it looks like it has quite a large collection. It has 2 floors and even a play area for toddlers. I’m not quite sure how to become a member as well and that is my task for the next few weeks; to join the library and actually borrow books.
Then I continued walking around the cultural centre and found the Art Gallery of Western Australia. This place reminded me so much of my time in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Sure it’s smaller than MoMA and the exhibits are completely different but what I liked about the Art Gallery of Western Australia is the space. It is definitely not as crowded as MoMA or any other given galleries and museums in New York for that matter and it’s a good thing because you get to concentrate on what you’re looking at. The couch they have in the middle of the galleries where you can sit and observe an artwork? Yes, you can actually get a seat. Another great thing about the Art Gallery of WA was it’s exhibit featuring local artists. I’ll be honest and say that I do not know any famous local artists. Looking at the artworks I begin to appreciate them based on what I see and not by who I know. It was most certainly a different experience to seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night (in hindsight, Van Gogh was really the only reason why I wanted to visit MoMA). Here at the Art Gallery of WA, I knew none of the artists so I took my time looking at each single artwork and there were quite a few impressive ones. It was amazing to see how different shades of red can convey such powerful emotions.
I walked along the cultural centre to see if there are any more surprises that I could come across. Well, it turned out that the biggest surprise of all was the location of the cultural centre. It is right next to our equivalent of New York’s Grand Central station. For the past few years I literally spend 6 days a week at this station and it wasn’t until this day that I discovered that the exit I have never taken led to Perth Cultural Centre. Lesson learned: never be a stranger to your own city.