Saturday, June 02, 2007

All About Cows

Today I went on the V-Line train down to Ballarat and visited two bookshops, Bakery Hill (where the police lined up to fight the Eureka Stockade chaps, but now they've got a McDonalds) and the Upholstery Gallery (a shop where a middle-aged lady tries to sell you a lot of pillows.) But that's not important: what's important is that in the Ballarat Art Gallery, they have an exhibition that is entirely cow!

There's cow paintings, cow sculptures, one painting of the golden calf, Holy Cows from the Book of Hours, and the Durham Ox, which is famous for some reason. There's some sketches of a prominent Whig politician with a cow, which could be greatly improved if there was less Whig, more cow, though I couldn't get the gallery staff to agree to my taking to it with an eraser. There were several terracotta cows, complete with terracotta milkmaids pulling at their teats, clearly symbolic of the teat of capitalist oppression, but mostly symbolic of cows.

Apparently the good folks at Ballarat Council opened this exhibition by inviting a butcher around, who had this to say:

"In our own way, butchers are artists. We select the carcasses, then use our skill and experience to prepare the cuts and present them in such as way as to make them attractive to the customer. Like artists, butchers work with people and have a rapport with people."

Thank you, butcher man.

In one room, the cows became gymnastic and piled upon one another in amazing acrobatic feats, while in another room a painted cow participates in rural festivities by standing still and looking like a cow, in a festive way. There was also a gloomy portrait by some Australian artist of a dead cow, which shows that he has complex feelings about cows, though I wonder what the cows think about him?

I could choose to end this post by saying it was a very moo-ving experience, so I will.


Karen said...

Did you know about the cows in advance and make your way to Ballarat specifically for their sake or was it just a happy coinicidence?

I had a little adventure with my sister in NZ once. We had been diverted onto this horrible gravel road in the middle of nowhere. We had no idea where it led, it was raining heavily, there were quarries on one side and on the other farms with barbed wire fences and signs saying "Trespassers will be shot". Every so often there was a one-way tunnel with absolutely no light inside. The crescendo was a dead cow in the middle of the road, on its back with all four legs in the air.

This is what I think of when anyone mentions cows.

TimT said...

A happy coincidence: I went to Ballarat just because I could and was killing time in the Art Gallery before the train back, trying to ignore my caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Thankfully I got some coffee shortly afterwards.

I had originally been planning to hit the second hand bookshops, which I sorta did - got a copy of an Arthur Ransome book where, apparently, the author sails to the tropics with the Ancient Mariner! Should be a fun read...

TimT said...

Regarding the cow, I expect the squirrels got it.

Karen said...

No, I heard the Ballarat gallery is supposed to be good. I'd link to my local regional gallery, but then I'd have to confess to being from the part of Sydney that I'm from!

Surely you don't go to absolutely random towns! I've often thought about doing that spinning around and pointing at a map thing, but I haven't found the opportunity or the equally deranged companion(s) to do it with me.

I know you probably don't want to hear this, but if it's really that bad (lowers voice) maybe you need to consider cutting back on the coffee. Cross to the other side and become a tea fiend!

TimT said...

No, what a puzzling idea. I go to random towns as an opportunity to sample the public transport. My last name being Train, I naturally gravitate towards this transport system. I refer you to my post on Train Stations I Have Known and subsequent conversation.

I certainly refuse to become a tea-fiend, although I do happily admit to a cup once in a while. I maintain that coffee would have been the national drink of England, and that it was merely an historical accident - a crop disease on Ceylon, to be precise - that caused the English to switch to tea.

Caz said...

I imagine it to be correct to suggest that, in general, if a cup of coffee is not available then neither is a cup of tea, thus transferring the withdrawal symptoms to tea.

One would no better placed than the coffee drinker.

Apart from which, last time I checked, both beverages contain caffeine.

Nope, still not seeing the point of the switcharoo.

nailpolishblues said...

I think I'd like to meat the butcher who was enough of an artist to stop my 'cuts' from looking quite so mcu like something hacked from a dead animal. Attractive? lol

nailpolishblues said...

so much even

TimT said...

Well Nails, there's always sausages, although as some German politician once remarked, the two things that we should never see are the passing of legislation and the making of sausages.

Karen said...

The proposed switcheroo was just an attempt at a lame joke- swapping one "poison" for another. Yesterday was a strange day, so my humour and clarity may have been slightly off. Tea often has less caffeine in it though, depending on how one has it and how one likes one's coffee. I'm an awful tea fiend, so I'm ever keen to make conversions.

Tea has better accessories, Tim. You've got to grant it that. I can't imagine that we could possibly have had "High Coffee".

I can certainly understand your interest in trains as a sort of narcissism, although I do maintain that sampling random places is no less peculiar than sampling random train stations. As a non-driver, I can discuss train stations with you at length, if you so wish. Larger stations can certainly have some lovely architecture, especially Victorian stations (incidentally this is a lovely book on the subject of the development of the railway in the nineteenth century). Town Hall station in Sydney I don't like at all, especially at peak hour, so I generally go to Central instead. I did notice when I was last in Melbourne that Spencer St/Southern Cross station has a very nice effect with the roof.

Caz said...

By happy coinkydink, only last week I bought the little fella a new train when he and The Princess were visiting.

The happy coinkydink part is that the train was painted in a cow pattern, and, even more happily, makes cow noises!

The little one is sometimes wont to spend entire days offering no more conversation than a constant "toot toot toot" (yes, Thomas the tank has much to answer for), so perhaps days will now be interspersed with "moo moo", offering some small respite.

If nothing else, it shows that you can have your train and your cow too.

nailpolishblues said...

And who said that German politicians were all bad?

Can't one do High Coffee in Amsterdam?

Also, since I'm slightly drunk and really quite silly...
What kind of fiend are you, Tim?

Oh lordy, save me from the questions of a drunk.

Caz said...

It would seem (from recent air testing) that one can walk around Rome and sniff caffeine, nicotine and cocaine, without even having to pay.

Brings a whole new meaning to "high coffee" Nails.

Karen - caffeine has yet to be declared a poison, in any country or society, and may even impart medical benefits.

nailpolishblues said...

Join me in a trip to Rome, anyone? Never mind, I think I'll be fine alone.

Caz, caffeine certainly benefits my dealings with the medical establishment (speaking of poisons). Dashed if I could flirt with doctors without that morning hit!

Caz said...

You flirt with doctors?

Jeez, I'm in awe.

I have to resist spitting on most doctors that I meet.

(I'm sure there are lovely doctors out there, but I don't know where they're hiding.)

Anyway, must rush, need to book an emergency trip to Rome.

nailpolishblues said...

That's nothing - they flirt back.
I'd say that about 50% are arseholes but there's some quality among the rest - especially the ones that have hot voices.

TimT said...

I don't know about that, but I would note that:

- A fiend in need is a fiend indeed, wether they be tea-fiends or otherwise;

- I would like to roam in Rome, it sounds like a capital capital. And that may or may not be the worst pun I will make today;

- I originally thought your mention, Karen, of Victorian stations was to do with the charming ones we have here in Victoria, though I see now you are referring to those built in the time of Queen Victoria. Nevertheless, I contend that both have their charms.

I would have done at least another post by now, but I've hardly had any time to myself... (mutter, mutter)

Karen said...

The Victorian stations in Victoria are just doubly nice!

It is indeed awful when one's pesky life outside the internet interferes with one's life within it. How dare it!

nailpolishblues said...

'Noise' kinda put me off Victorian trains and stations, all trains really, for the moment.
I did not enjoy my journey home last night.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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