Tuesday, November 26, 2013


If there was ever an artist whose time has come it’s got to be Patrick Pound. This New Zealand artist who has been living in Australia for many years has evolved his work into a form of idiosyncratic curation building his own (let’s collect a few E’s together ourselves) eclectic, erudite, exuberant and enigmatic museums of thematically linked objects. A museum of white, a museum of holes, a museum of darkness, and for the huge Melbourne now show that fills both venues of the National Gallery of Victoria, The gallery of air.

Pat’s long-term obsession with the power-of-things fits neatly into the current intellectual cred given to the Renaissance idea of the cabinet of curiosities, with MONA in Hobart being one poster child and the last Documenta another.  This combining of artefacts that effortlessly cater for the brainy and the bling addict at the same time is proving irresistible to art institutions on the hunt for bigger audiences.

The gallery of air
has its own room in the NGV. Drawn from Pat’s own extensive collections and objects he selected from the storerooms and galleries of the NGV, the Museum elegantly presents many objects with not a label in sight. There is a booklet that helps you establish what some of the objects are and how they are related to air, but deciphering the puzzle is what it’s about. 

Some of the items in The Gallery of air are: a whoopee cushion, the air filter from a Ford Zephyr, a doll dressed as an air hostess, a small figure with its hands in the air, A F A Schenck’s melodramatic painting Anguish (reputedly the most popular work in the NGV), an air hockey puck, a photograph of someone blowing life into a lilo, an Air Force ribbon, the booklet Underwater air breathing issued by the Standards Association of Australia…you get the idea. Pat claims on the sole wall panel, “I was quite worried that the NGV’s things might not be as interesting as mine but they seem to be holding their own”. Curiously true.

You can see more images from The gallery of air here in the Age and a video of Pat discussing his work here on the Sydney Morning Herald.