Last Tuesday saw the much anticipated inauguration of the new Australian Pavilion in the Giardini at Venice. This is the first 21st century building to be constructed in the the Giardini and was designed by Melbourne architects Denton Corker Marshall. It is a simple, elegant, supremely confident black box, nestled gently into the landscape at it's approach, cantilevering beautifully over the canal from behind. The importance of Australia now having a permanent pavilion at Venice cannot be underestimated – it will serve as a monument to our increasingly confident contemporary culture but more importantly as a space for Australian artists of all genres to show themselves and their country to the world. The unveiling was presided over by Rupert Myer, Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, and speeches were made by the project's visionary and fearless leader Simon Mordant, the architect John Denton, Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale di Venezia, and the sublime Cate Blanchett. A smoking ceremony was offered by indigenous performers which included didgeridoo by William Barton. The pavilion was teaming with Australian artists and supporters as well an many international onlookers, all very apparently pleased what they saw,
The next day marked the official opening of Fiona Hall's epic show. The show is powerful, rich, oozing with messages about our culture today and beautifully put together in collaboration with curator Linda Michael. The reaction so far by collectors and the international art press has been incredible. Well done Fiona!