The art world has spawned a new creation in faraway Tasmania. It has been called the ‘Bilbao of the south’ and in the owner’s words a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’. Australian mathematics and gambling guru, David Walsh, is using his fortune to showcase his eclectic collection of art from around the world at MONA, Museum of Old and New Art The $100m collection is Australia’s largest private art gallery, displayed in a 3 level subterranean space designed by Architect Nonda Katsalidis.
The gallery houses works by artists such as Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili and Anselm Kiefer. At the centre of MONA is Sidney Nolan’s ‘Snake’, an immense work made up of 1,620 individual paintings. It’s a collection that intentionally provokes outrage, amusement and awkwardness. As Walsh says; ‘I hope I don’t ever get to the point where I dumb everything down to the level where everyone agrees with it or understands.’
A lack of any formal structure and Walsh’s desire for visitors to have no preconceptions of the works exhibited ensures a very different experience. There is no labeling or descriptions, to encourage people to question and discuss. Visitors are encouraged to use a hand held device that allows them to vote with a love/hate button, presenting them with an opportunity to give immediate critique.