Don’t see the Fred Williams exhibition, “Infinite Horizons” at the NGV. I won’t be reviewing it because of the NGV’s “no sketching, no note taking” policy that is clearly stated at the entrance of the exhibition. I’ve written about the NGV’s “no sketching, no note taking policy” in 2008 this blog.
The reason for the prohibitions on sketching and note taking are difficult to explain, sometimes insurance policies are blamed or the lenders for the exhibition and then there is the gallery wanting to manage visitor flow. In 2008 Leigh Mackay, Head of Corporate Office at the NGV explained: “managing large crowds of visitors in a popular exhibition can be a difficult task. In particular, if visitors stand or sit and sketch it can prevent other visitors from seeing the exhibition properly.” I’m not interested in the NGV’s excuses for their bad policy. As I wrote in 2008: “the purpose of an exhibition where sketching and note taking are not permitted is strictly infotainment (and as promotion for the catalogue and other merchandise).”
If you want to see a lot of art by Fred Williams go the NGV at Federation Square and look at the 17 or 18 works of his on display in the NGV’s permanent collection on the 2nd and 3rd floors. There are Fred Williams’s iconic landscape paintings, etching, and some early drawings of Islington music halls when Williams was clearly influenced by Walter Sickert. Here you are allowed to sketch and take notes and it is free, unlike “Infinite Horizons” that costs ($16 adult ticket). Another benefit of looking at Williams’s work in the permanent collection is that you can see his art in context of other Australian artists instead of isolated in a solo exhibition.
I am boycotting all the NGV’s exhibitions that have “no sketching, no note taking” (as it makes it impossible for a blogger to write a review) and I urge you to do the same.