Special Sub-Topic: Contemporary Australian Arts and Culture
|ARCHITECTURE: What building material did architect, Glenn Murcutt, use predominantly in his buildings? |
Corrugated Iron. The Local History Museum and Tourist Information Centre in Kempsey (completed in 1983) is a good example Murcutt's design. It consists of three wings, each with a curved corrugated iron roof. Glenn Murcutt's motto was to "touch the earth lightly" and his buildings blend into the Australian landscape. He is known as a pioneer of Australian architecture.
|THEATRE: Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving are both graduates of which school?|
National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). NIDA was established in 1958 and initially offered training for actors only. However, over time it broadened its scope and now offers courses in set design, lighting, sound and costume. The school is located very close to the University of New South Wales in the Sydney suburb of Kensington.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s I was a student at the University of NSW and I attended plays performed by NIDA students at the Old Tote Theatre.
AFTRS was established in 1973, and is located near Macquarie University, also in Sydney.
|ART: Sidney Nolan painted a series of paintings in 1946-1947 which are usually displayed at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Who or what is the subject of this series of paintings? |
Ned Kelly. The story of bushranger Ned Kelly is known by most Australians, and has been told in music, film and literature as well as art. Nolan followed the sequence of events in the Kelly story but never meant the series to be regarded as authentic. He was more concerned to depict the more universal themes of justice and betrayal through his paintings.
The Alice in Wonderland series of paintings were done by Charles Blackman, and many Australian artists have painted wildlife and scenes from suburbia.
|ICONIC STRUCTURES: Which structure was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20th October 1973? |
The Sydney Opera House. Sydney's most famous building was designed by Jorn Utzon, who won the international design competition in 1957. Thereafter the building was fraught with conflict, and Utzon was dumped by the State Government. Utzon eventually picked up his T square and left Australia. Government architects completed the job in his absence.
I remember the opening of the Sydney Opera House very well, because I was about to give birth to my first child and saw the fireworks from my hospital window.
Parliament House was completed in 1988. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932. The War Memorial was opened in 1941.
|SPORT: What happens on the first Tuesday of November and stops the nation? |
The Melbourne Cup (Horse Race). We are a great sporting nation and we love our football, cricket and tennis. But this horse race is the one event that literally stops the nation. It doesn't matter where you live in Australia, you cannot ignore it.
The first Melbourne Cup race was held in 1861, on a Thursday, with 17 horses running. The first Tuesday of November was set as the date in the 1880s, and the race was run on Saturdays during the Second World War. It is recognised as one of the greatest handicap horse races in the world.
|THEATRE: Sir Robert Helpmann, Meryl Tankard and Graeme Murphy are all famous for which theatrical art? |
choreography. All three of these choreographers were innovative and their work was usually based on Australian themes.
Sir Robert Helpmann (1909-1986) choreographed his first ballet in 1942. He became joint artistic director of the Australian Ballet in the 1960s, and I remember his wonderful ballet called 'The Display' which was based on the dance/display of lyrebirds in the Australian bush.
Meryl Tankard also worked with the Australian Ballet and the Australian Dance Theatre in Canberra.
Graeme Murphy was appointed Artistic Director to Sydney Dance Company in 1976, and later choreographed works for the Australian Ballet and various state ballet companies around Australia.
We have some interesting dance companies in Australia including The Australian Ballet which focuses mainly on classical ballet, The Bangarra Dance Company which focuses on Aboriginal dance, and the Sydney Dance Theatre which has a modern dance focus.
|DRAMA: Playwright David Williamson has always had his finger on the pulse of Australian society. What is the title of his 2005 play about the power of 'shock jocks' on talkback radio?|
Influence. David Williamson's character Ziggy Blasco was not modelled on any particular radio talk show host. In an interview on the 7:30 Report (ABC TV, 17th March 2005) Williamson said that he thought characters like Ziggy: '...actually do social harm because their technique is to amplify anxieties into fears, turn fears into panics and engender a general wave of fear and conservatism.'
"Don's Party" was also written by David Williamson and is about an election party. "Jonestown" is a book written by Chris Masters about radio talkback host and ex-football coach, Alan Jones. "Big Brother" is the name of a reality TV show.
|FILM: Which film won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Picture in December 2007? |
Romulus, My Father. "Romulus, My Father" was produced by Robert Connelly and John Maynard, and starred Eric Bana who also won Best Actor. It was set in the early 1960s and based on the life of Raimond Gaita, who was a child at the beginning of the story. The story is about his love for his parents.
"Home Song Stories" had many nominations and picked up five awards for cinematography, editing, original music score, production design and costume design.
"Kenny" won the AFI Award for Best Lead Actor (Shane Jacobson)in 2006 and 'Ten Canoes' won Best Picture in 2006.
|MUSIC: Which record label, founded in 1972, originally featured Australian artists like Billy Thorpe, The Loved Ones, Daddy Cool, Split Enz and Skyhooks?|
Mushroom Music. Mushroom Music was Michael Gudinski's baby. Gudinski sold the music side of the business in 1998 for a reported $40 million dollars. Not bad for a business that started in a share house in St Kilda, Melbourne.
Leedon Records was established by Lee Gordon in 1958 and featured artists like Johnny O'Keefe and Lonnie Lee. Lee Gordon committed suicide in November 1963.
|LITERATURE: Judith Wright, Bruce Dawe and Les Murray are best known for what type of writing? |
poetry. We have a long tradition of Australian 'Bush' Poetry, but these three poets have moved away from the bush to focus on issues that are perhaps more relevant to life in modern Australia.
I studied poems by Judith Wright as a school girl in the 1960s and appreciated her poems about Australian birds such as the currawong, lyrebirds and parrots. She became very interested and concerned for the welfare of aboriginals in her later life.
Bruce Dawe writes about people in cities, families, machines and war. His poems are often humorous, conversational in tone with subtle underlying religious themes.
I have a thick book of Les Murray's collected poems and it is impossible to summarise his subject matter, except that it is all Australian. He writes in a huge variety of styles and genres. In 1996 he won the TS Eliot poetry prize for the best collection for 'Subhuman Redneck Poems'.
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