Monday, 26 November 2007

A farewell to former prime minister John Howard

It felt mighty fine to wake yesterday morning in federal Labor land (see Phillip Coorey).

Yet this remark little captures the magnitude of the occasion. I am tempted to underline it with the dark lead of a 6B pencil by saying it is as though our nation has finally woken from a deep sleep of over eleven years that preyed upon the twisted stuntedness of thought’s deep-seated fears — socially, environmentally, culturally, artistically — that fair reason chose not to straighten out in the light of day. (Better expressed elsewhere, see for example
Paul Keating).

Many, I am sure, would expect nothing less than this being said on a campaign blog of this nature.

But to underline my opening remark with a 6B pencil this way — a very unsharpened smudgy one too, I might add, to give bolder emphasis — would be to use an instrument unable to render some of the finely nuanced detail of this campaign. Detail that I little expected to encounter upon commencing to work on it, indeed detail that will undoubtedly appear anathema to it.

For although I have spent many a word on this blog outlining John Howard’s unjustness towards visual artists, to do so I have had to develop a healthy regard for the previous government’s position — even though I opposed it. To do otherwise would have been to treat the previous government as a black hole into which one casts one’s own disappointments in life to take issue with — without measure — rather than constructively deal with the particular matter at hand.

This will sound strange given artists and their close associates are perhaps better known for punctuating any discussion on John Howard with a vehemently pronounced ‘evil’ being expressed nearly every third or fourth word.

Nevertheless I sincerely wish John Howard well in his departure from being prime minister. Even though the electorate’s decision last Saturday will be proven the right decision with every passing month of the Rudd government, once the dust settles many will remember the affection they once held for John Howard — and rightfully so.

Gail Hastings

Friday, 16 November 2007


With sadness we learn today of John Stringer’s death (see Curator of expertise and vision in The Australian).

My thoughts go to his family, especially the Brisbane based photographer Richard Stringer who introduced me to his brother some years ago.

John Stringer will be remembered well in the history of Australian contemporary art - deservedly.

May John Stringer’s keen engagement that never grew tired over his lengthy career in visual art, continue to inspire many.

Condolences to all who feel his loss. Especially those in the Perth art community.

Gail Hastings