Dry Humour

I thought reviving a little The Worst of Perth content for our brave shutins in these desperate times.

Remember when people used to name their boats? Now it’s always just the boring rego number. Why did that cheeky and charming practice end? Oh, yeah. That’s right. And can we not reference a local species, like the err Cunac? Would “Wet Gilgie” have killed them?

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Palates of Sophistication at The John Curtin Gallery

It didn’t become apparent until art locusts cleared some of the arancini at John Curtin Gallery last week, that the food boards were art palettes. Art palettes for art palates!  If none of the other soaks, tightarses, artists and PIAF guests noticed JCG – WELL I DID. Nice touch. Love to see an edible Blue Poles next time.
Also, and I like to believe as a direct result of this review, the speeches were very much shorter than usual.

You’re welcome fellow art soaks. Just part of the service.

– Although the amount of time that was spent talking about how the speeches were going to be shorter was almost as long as the speeches themselves. Nevertheless…

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

Exhibition:Ian Strange and Sandra Hill

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Total Eden

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

As probably the highlight of the free food and piss art circuit last year, the opening of Lost Eden Creative in Dwellingup almost set too high a standard. Crowds around the hot dog van were so heavy, that the organisers had to desperately throw a Janet Holmes à Court speech in the main space, so that we in the know soaks could slip around the side and grab an artisanal sossie and beaker of Shiraz in relative peace.

Positioning oneself speechwise is the most essential skill of the art freeloader. You hear the click of the mic going on, and you have to quickly make sure – DAMN SURE, that your corridor to the bar is not impeded. At the very least you need to have your glass brimming. Being trapped listening to a speech holding a finger greased empty glass is the sign of a total loser. You’re no art lover that’s for sure.

The catering standard for the current In Our Nature exhibition was as usual high. The choice of the slightly obscure Kirks for the softies was a nice touch too. There are only two  downsides to going to an opening at this delightful gallery. One, you need a skipper for the drive back. And two, you have to drive through Kelmscott.

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Blanc de Blanc de Brut at Art Collective WA

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

What would a future Semiotic Anthropologist – (should such unfortunate creatures still exist in the self driving hover-Commodore future being forced upon us), make of this clear, intense, dazzling curation of liquids making up the repast at the latest ArtCollectiveWA exhibition? French brut, blanc de blanc, French water, white wine, – and even the Hahn beerseems to have been chosen for the clear, spartan colour palette of its cans rather than concern for the carb intake of free piss loving Art Soaks.

Is there something Derridarian to be understood in the preponderance of French liquids, concerning, “…not only the physical act of ingesting food but also the metonymical act of interiorizing symbols, language, and social codes.”?

Is the overwhelming “whiteness” of the fare some comment on the West Australian art scene? Brut and Blanc – Dry and White?  Tempting to think so, possibly, but unlikely one would think at an opening. There’s possibly too much going on here to decode it in the present. But you’d be hard pressed, semiotic anthropologist or not, to think that the overwhelming clearness of the liquids was not inversely obscuring some dark, clouded message.

Carol Rudyard survey, 30 November – 21 December 2019,
Cathedral Square, 2/565 Hay Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000
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Tokenism at Number Ten

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

No catering surprises from an art collective group at Janet Holmes à Court’s West Perth industrial-unchic gallery @ No. 10. But it would be ungracious in any case to expect rare beef noisettes from a self funded group exhibition. But one does wonder how many mini quiches the cost of that string quartet could have funded.hac1hac3
The wine token trend is however a little alarming for veteran art soaks. While you can appreciate a group of amateur artists trying to keep costs down, it would be disastrous if this vile token system was to extend to too many other venues. Imagine, IF YOU CAN, trying to look at portraits of people you don’t care about at The Lester Prize on just two glasses! It’s unthinkable! No. This cannot stand.

As a side note, apparently this precinct in West Perth where galleries such as Stala and HaC’s @no.10 are situated is supposedly to be called “The Pickle District”. Sounds a little try hard, a la George Costanza trying to get nicknamed T-Bone, but there you are. Sadly the dead hands and blunted imaginations of Perth’s mural artists are already descending on the place, and anodyne and boring pieces are going up to spoil the pleasant industrial feeling of this pocket. Can yet another tedious Stormie Mills or even worse a (gulp) Melski be far away?  Why don’t we just call the area Little Maylands and be done with it?As soon as you see a wall covered by that guy who paints leaves on everything, you can be assured that the “precinct” is finished as any kind of interesting area. It’s so embarrassing that Perth still thinks that “authorised” street art is cool.

And I’m not calling it the fucking Pickle District either.

Robertson Park Artists Studio exhibition, Holmes à Court Gallery @ no.10, Douglas Street West Perth. Opened 13 November – 5th December.
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The Salient at Stala Contemporary

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

I knew instantly that I had made a rookie mistake. How could I have been caught on the wrong side of the gallery when the speeches started!? Especially in the pleasant Stala Contemporary Gallery, where the space is severely divided into two sections. We felt like troops in the Stalingrad Cauldron, wondering whether we could escape through the eye of the needle before Zhukov brutally crushed the apex of the salient.  The bar, visible, shimmering in the distance and the escape door might as well have been in Berlin. I have drawn up a rough map to explain the situation we were in.


The Salient

However, you have to hand it to gallery owner Sherri. A three artist opening night – a situation which could have easily have degenerated into  45 minutes of speeches – and would have at many other galleries, was over in barely 5 minutes. Succinct and to the point. Perhaps she was aware of the plight of those trapped on the far side of the dividers, but in any case, kudos. Brilliantly done.
The free piss situation was excellent as usual here. Nice wine with quite a choice of genres (ouvres?) Even a chilled Rose for that hot, hot night. I’ve wondered about their snack policy for some time though. I’m not sure about this open bowl “grabbing a handful”, situation. For one, it is hard to “grab” cut strawberries. Secondly, speaking as an artist myself, it’s no secret that we – and our culture vulture associates, are not the world’s most fastidious hand washers. It’s part of our creative spirit not to constrained by normal restrictive conventions of ablutions and personal hygeine.  That’s mostly why we became artists in many cases tbh. Do you think Picasso went near washbasin one between dunny and the communal bowl of Patatas Bravas? No. Of course not. It would have been ridiculous. So although I love the bowls, – and I think once they marvellously provided one full of jelly snakes, I think, under the circumstances, a more “tong based” regime would be the way to go. But it still warranted a very good 4 stars.

A PARTY HAT FOR SAINT DENIS’ – Dr. Matthew Jackson (Gallery A)
SYNCHRONICITIES‘ – Sue Leeming and Britt Mikkelsen (Gallery B)
13 November to 6th December 2019
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Mint Fresh, John Curtin Gallery Speaker Series.

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Gallery Scene, brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

For those that work any large organisation, for any type of meeting, eyes all turn first to the catering. One glance at the single packet of Arnotts Family Assorted biscuits is enough to tell you, even before the first word is spoken, that the budget hasn’t gone through. If you see the Aldi equivalent, then you might as well clear your desk.
What a vote then, of confidence in the future of the John Curtin Gallery to see genuine chocolate Mint Slices, and cookies with substantial nuggets of chocolate, served for the latest of their speaker series.

Obviously the Moccona is sending out mixed messages, being little more than Copper Kettle in an expensive bottle, but as all meeting goers know, Moccona is for looking at, not drinking. It’s saying, we can afford to buy 4th tier instant, ( above Pablo, Copper Kettle and Nescafe…) The fact that it’s not very good coffee is not the point here, just the fact that it doesn’t come in a drum.

I also love that unlike Lawrence Wilson Gallery at The University of WA, who put on pizzas and snacks and actively encourage students – non fine art students – to attend artist talks and arts related cultural events, John Curtin Gallery seems to have the laudable policy of keeping this world class facility basically a secret from the massive student population. Thank goodness. Think about the run on Mint Slices for a start.


Foreground, Arnotts Mint Slices, Background artwork by Brian Robinson.

Speakers Series: Dr Susanna Castleden & Ms Mandy Downing, Wednesday 13th November 2019
Organised by John Curtin Gallery
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Wine into Water, Bayswater Art Awards 2019

Bayswater Art Awards have come a long way. Once, some years ago, in a dark day for free-piss art openings, they only had an urn and teabags! With no wine!  Those that were there still bear the scars, but if you ask them about it, they will just smile with a faraway look in their eyes, because you, who didn’t go through it, could never understand. Those that lived it, have a bond that will last forever, and those that didn’t RSVP for that night still battle with survivor guilt.

But fast forward to 2019. There was mountains of food and free piss! The catering was almost three courses, starting with some slightly gooey arancinis – (and haven’t arancinis become this generation of art goers’mini quiches?)  – some pulled pork sliders and even trays of desserts. Pulled pork is also as played as Mayland’s wall murals, but nobody was complaining.

The mainstay of drinks was the quite respectable Fifth Leg for the wine with James Squires, Alby and Great Northern for the beer. Bubbly to start off. There was even Pasito and Kole Beer, yes Kole Beer for the kiddies.

But no water. No. Water. You could get a Kole’ Beer but not a water! With a heavy elderly (diabetic) demographic attending, a Pasito wasn’t going to cut it for dissolving ancient phlegm. And, this is true. I even saw an elderly couple trying to feed coins into the machine downstairs to buy water. Amidst all this plenty, yet not a drop to drink!

Speeches were reasonably restrained. Mayor Dan Bull got through it at a good pace. Enough time for the winners to be nabbed for a publicity photo, and not long enough for the losers to curdle in their bitterness.

If it wasn’t for the embarrassing lack of water, I’d have rated it higher. 3.5 stars.

Bayswater Art Awards, 3-16 November. The Rise, Maylands.
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Long Night of The Soaks

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Perth Gallery Scene brought to you by The Worst of Perth.

You have to hand it to John Curtin Gallery for exhibition openings. It’s one of the few top tier catered events left on the art free piss circuit. You can guarantee that the wine – and cocktail sushis, will flow like water. Although, if one has to criticise, the cracker under the rare roast beef (pictured), was way too hard for art spongers’ teeth, no doubt fatally weakened by all the acidic box Rieslings they’ve been swilling  at openings all year. But a minor point.

In some ways – and I know that this will be treason talk, there is almost too much free piss at John Curtin Gallery openings. I know, I know, calm down. The way that they structure their openings, is that you turn up at the advertised time (to intercept the first tray of mini quiches as it comes out), but they don’t allow you to view the exhibition until the speeches are done. And for this, the speeches didn’t start for THE BEST PART OF A FUCKING HOUR! So there is literally nothing to do for an hour apart from get pie eyed with a lot of other cultured soaks. Either start the speeches ten minutes after the event opens, or allow people to at least view the exhibitions before the speeches. It doesn’t make any sense!

And what exactly is the raison d’être for bottomless free piss at a non commercial gallery? The reason usually, is to get patrons drunk enough to unchain their wallets and buy an artwork. If there’s nothing for sale, then you don’t have to pour wine down their throats for an hour beforehand. It’s a miracle fist fights didn’t break out.

So, the actual nutrition on offer, 4 stars. The opening as a whole event, 1.5.

John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University Western Australia
Brian Robinson: Tithuyil (moving with the rhythm of the stars) until 8th December 2019
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Soft Red, Hard Cheese

Your Nutrition and Hydration on the Perth Gallery Scene.

I loved the outright insouciance of the catering at Friday night’s opening at Turner Galleries in Northbridge. Serving a clean-skin red at a commercial gallery opening was a nice, simple statement that the free piss wasn’t to be the servant of some corporate wine giant. Just send the admin assistant down to Dan Murphys and get a palette of something just the right side of vinegar, packaged in something just the right side of cardboard. And frankly the sneering, jaded, burnt out palates of artists, critics, and assorted parasites would barely notice the difference anyway would they? (Can a palate sneer? I think it can.) And, free piss is after all free piss.

And, delightfully, the Soft Red ($3.95 Dan Murphys) was actually fine. Quite drinkable! Well chosen Turners admin worker. Kudos.

As for the food, nothing hot of course. But you don’t see many mini quiche level gallery openings in Perth any more, but that’s fine. However it’s an open secret that I’ve never been a fan of water crackers at gallery openings. Turners have in the past been a bastion of Jatz (pepper), and I would advise a return to that staple. Water crackers, despite their strength for dipping, (I believe there was chick pea, or was it lentil?) just get stuck in your teeth too much. A highlight was a monster block of blue cheese that was almost big enough to be an installation in itself. Almost a shame to have cut into it. Christo would have been happy to wrap it.

All in all I gave it a solid 3.5 stars.

Turner Galleries 470 William Street Northbridge
Exhibition 25th October – 23rd November
Helen britton + David Bielander
The rage of dekoration + a room of lies
Erin coates + Anna Nazzari
fauna flesh flora
Since The Worst of Perth brand still remains so strong, over two years after its closure, I have decided to do a few specialised posts. I have been wanting to do some reviews of art exhibition catering for some time.
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