Last June I turned 25. To celebrate I made a list of “25 Things to Do Before I Turn 26.” To see more things from the list, check out the category “25 Things.”
The city isn’t my favorite. I like wild things, wild places. Trees and rocks and waves that are beautiful, intense, and a little dangerous. Cities intimidate me and tire me out the way too much shopping in a busy mall does. Melbourne, though – Melbourne is a good city for a beginner like me. Some of the opportunities it offers are too good to pass up.
A little while before my birthday last year I came across an article about an enormous painting that had been reinstalled in the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne city. When I made my list of 25 Things I knew I had to add this…even though it would mean venturing into the city.
In the end I made a day of it, taking the train (By myself, for the first time! This is a big deal for me, guys.) to Flinders St. station and, after having a look at the Christmas decorations in Federation Square, walked down St. Kilda Road to the gallery. Afterward I ventured further out of my comfort zone and walked to the Royal Botanic Gardens, read for a while, then met up with friends for the Moonlight Cinema.
It was a big day for me, even though I walked pretty much in a straight line. I can be bossy and confident but I’m never been incredibly brave. Doing things by myself, especially in a foreign country, has never been my favorite pastime or great skill of mine. That day in December was a definitive step toward bravery. What might seem like a little thing to other people initiated a new courage in me. Let me tell you, this painting was worth all the moxie I had to muster. My camera doesn’t do justice to the rich colors and the awestruck feeling of standing in front of this piece. It has been hidden away for seventy years and took ten weeks and twenty four people to restore; it weighs in at 500kg (little over 1100 pounds) and is 6m x 4m (16 feet x 13 feet). The frame itself is 200kg (440 pounds). No one knows for sure why it was removed from display, but some suppose it was for protection during World War I.
I came back to this one twice, taking advantage of the soft black benches in front of it. Color is such an incredible thing, I love being around as much of it as possible – and art galleries are a good way to do that. The subject matter is not unique (Biblical stories are depicted in countless works of art.) but as a Christian who knows this story well, the size of the piece very well suits the serious themes of this moment in time. Good work, Herbert!
The Contemporary European Exhibit, of which “Moses Handing Down the Tables of the Law” is a part, was my favorite. I explored further in it and other parts of the gallery. A whole building full of art – it must be one of the best things in the world, so much beauty and color in one place.