Tag Archives: Things I’ve seen

Bohemian Melbourne exhibition


Well, as usual I am writing about an exhibition in its last days, and what is even more annoying is that I went to see it months ago, before Christmas and forgot to blog it!  If you want to see it, you’ll need to put your skates on.

Some time ago I reviewed Tony Moore’s book Dancing With Empty Pockets and I see that he has been a subject adviser for this exhibition at the State Library of Victoria.   As a proud Melburnian, this is  a satisfyingly home-based exhibition, with plenty of familiar names and places.  It starts with Marcus Clarke, complete with his cabbage tree hat which I was surprised to see was a much more stylish construction than I imagined. (I can’t believe that I’ve lived this long without ever seeing a cabbage tree hat- or perhaps I just didn’t realize what it was I was looking at.)  It’s all very masculine in the first section, with bohemian gentlemen’s clubs and bonhomie. Women  are thin on the ground until the 1930s onwards, when they emerge in the artistic enclaves and on the stage.  Lovely Mirka Mora gets a look-in, there’s the definitely weird Percy Grainger (whose own museum is well worth a look if it’s open when you’re going along Royal Parade) and look- there’s Red Symons (and what does it say about Bohemia that an ex-Bohemian ends up the morning host on ABC local radio?)

All good fun, although I must admit that I found the layout confusing and somehow missed the chronological thread of it all which, in this case, was important.

I see that the State Library have a self-guided walking tour of Bohemian Melbourne too.  Might be a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll sometime.