Janine Burke’s Company of Images is a funny and socially astute book about painters and their promoters in contemporary Melbourne. The humour comes from sharp observations and deft characterisations. Burke’s minor figures are like good caricatures, but her major characters are a complex blend of impulses and emotions, which can be funny or sad. She takes the opportunity to send up predictably vulnerable members of her artistic community: the painter running to seed who often feels ‘small, helpless and angry’ and seduces or denounces his students according to the state of his ego; the curator with his eyes on New York and whose ambition is ‘to have friends he was unable to frighten’; the Professor of Fine Arts who roams his Department ‘inciting suspicion and acting out his own’; and the wealthy, titled collector who brings in a curator from the State Gallery to hang a painting in her toilet.
Brenda Walker has written essays, short fiction, four novels and a memoir, Reading by Moonlight. Her books have won numerous Australian awards, including the Victorian Premier’s Award for Nonfiction. Her story 'The Houses that are Left Behind' won the O. Henry Prize in 2018, and will be published in Australia in Best Summer Stories in October. She is Emeritus Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia.
From the New Issue
Net Privacy: How we can be free in an age of surveillance by Sacha MolitoriszReviewed by Alex Tighe
Environmental StudiesReviewed by Natalie Osborne