HOMO goes MOMA – A Story of Modern Homosexuals and Modern Art
Words by Paul Hollingworth
On a beautifully mild late-February Saturday morning, a genial group of men congregated at the Sir Arthur Rylah Oval carpark in Kew. We would be heading off to the Heide – Museum of Modern Art, via the Yarra Boulevard Tourist Route.
The event leader (me), promised the attendees the world-famous Gordon Campbell coffee and biscuits at the meeting point. Unfortunately, I don’t communicate this to Gordon. I simply assumed he would bring it. I’m sure you know what assume means? That’s right – no coffee for you!! (Hmmmmm, my humour seems to be failing me in this article – please stop reading and move on to the next one)… Unbeknownst to me, our two guests, Tana and Steve, bought some coffee with them, but they were too polite to point out my faux pas and their coffee went cold and biscuits uneaten 🙁
After chatting and toileting (and probably suffering caffeine withdrawls), we headed off in convoy. We didn’t have a lot of choice but to convoy, the Tourist Route being a single road with no overtaking. Have you ever been along the Yarra Boulevard Tourist Route? It’s a wonderful drive – a green oasis in the centre of our great metropolis, with a road going through it full of cars, “ahhh, the serenity”. We hopped off the Tourist Road for the 5km section of the Eastern Freeway between the Chandler Highway and Bulleen Road, before arriving at the Heide.
To my surprise, the carpark was chokers! A further surprise as the venue itself wasn’t over-crowded. After finding parks, many of us were becoming affected by the afore mentioned coffee-gate, and we decided to make our first stop the Heide Cafe. I haven’t eaten here before, but I found the food to be quite nice. I was triggered though by the “Eggs Benedict with salmon”. Removing the pig and adding a fish makes your dish Eggs Atlantic – sacré bleu! Although, I did take pleasure in Mat being triggered by our pronunciation of latte – I was sure to order a “laaaaaaahtaaaaaaeeeeeyyyy”. My mother tells me I am pretty and funny, I don’t care what you think!
Paying the bill at a venue that does not split the bill is always a geriatric nightmare – “I wanna pay by cash”, “I wanna pay by card”, “where’s the toilet”. I paid on my card as I have PayID (I am thoroughly modern), but when seeking reimbursement, I was faced with, “what’s PayID?” Did I say sacré bleu already? Okay, oy vay!
Well anyway, by this time I needed a wee so I headed into the main building of the museum, also known as Heide 3. Currently they have a Sidney Nolan exhibition (a different Sidney Nolan exhibition than the one they had here at my last visit). It was quite interesting – I even saw a painting of Ned Kelly’s willy! Next was the short walk to the award winning Mid-Century Modern house built from 1964 for Sunday and John Reed, after they moved from the old (nineteenth-century) farmhouse on the same property. The Modern house is now known as Heide 2 and the farmhouse is Heide 1. It was very hard to concentrate on the art collection when the house was the most amazingly beautiful piece of art in its own right. The gallery attendant told me to go into the bedroom wing as the house’s original bathroom was open to the public for the first time in the museum’s history. It was beautifully designed, but, to be honest, it was just another shitty old bathroom, just like the one I have at home.
As the weather was Goldilocks (not too hot, not too cold), I took the opportunity to slip away from the group and explore some of the sculptures on the extensive grounds. What can I say? Stunning, relaxing, inspiring, uniquely Australian. My meandering saw me catch up again with the others and together we explored the “doll’s house” (which may have been the old toolshed, who knows?) and then on to Heide 1. This old farmhouse is another fantastic example of Australian architecture with soaring ceilings, polished floorboards and architraves surrounding every orifice – oh, and some art.
Having expressed my desire to live in a house like either of the two we saw today, Taner told me that if I buy both he would live in one! Little did he know that this was the best offer I have had in several decades. Oh, I didn’t tell you about our two guests today – Tanner and Steve. Maybe you will remember them from a few paragraphs ago and the coffee-gate affair (don’t mention coffee-gate!) It turns out that Taner met me six or seven years ago on ANZAC Day at the Stonewall in Sydney. You may think that I would remember such a charming man, but keep in mind I was a sailor at the time, and we are rarely sober when ashore, and never sober on an ANZAC Day after the march! I couldn’t have been too bad though as Taner convinced his friend Steve to giving Motafrenz one more go with, “I know Paul, he is nice”. Mamma mia!
We had one more drink at the Heide Cafe before heading home – being entertained by Chris spilling his iced coffee on the other Chris – Crisis? No Chrisis! Haha!
For me, this excursion was just the tonic I needed after the hectic and stressful Midsumma period. I wish to thank Tana, Steve, Phillip, Matt, Jeff, Gordon, Chris, and Chris for making this such a wonderful outing!
Hey? You want one more joke? Okay.
Q: Why did the Motafrenz President leave the group and go into the gardens alone?
A: He was playing Heide-seek!
Yeah, I’ve still got it!