Christopher Menz

The Cookbook Library is an eminently readable and informative survey of the development of European (and North American) culinary literature from antiquity until the early nineteenth century, from Greek and Roman texts to Antonin Carême. The project, inspired by Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky’s extensive personal cookbook library, draws on Willan’s considerable professional cookery expertise: in addition to setting up her own cookery school in Paris, La Varenne, in 1975, Willan has published extensively on French cookery and is a leading authority on the subject. But this is much more than a catalogue of an indisputably fine private collection. It covers the subject broadly, way beyond the confines of the couple’s own substantial holdings and their linguistic comfort.

... (read more)

The contemporary jewellery movement grew from a desire among postwar practitioners to explore both the expressive qualities in jewellery and the use of non-traditional materials. The move away from traditional gold and diamonds was partly economic – consider today’s price of gold – and partly ideological. Jewellery should be appreciated for what it is, on its own terms, not for its carats.

... (read more)

Reading this book is like taking a stroll through the exhibition with which it was published to coincide, in the wonderful company of its thirty-one expert, articulate, and enthusiastic authors. Visions Past and Present: Celebrating 40 Years – as both book and exhibition – celebrates the University of Melbourne’s art museum: launched as the University Art Gallery in 1972 and known since 1998 as the Ian Potter Museum of Art, in Swanston Street, Parkville. The exhibition continues until 26 August (free and open to all). The book – a handbook of collection highlights rather than a catalogue – will have a much longer shelf life.

... (read more)

The initial idea was for a new front door at the National Gallery of Australia. At least that is how Ron Radford, director of the Gallery, presented it to the one thousand or so guests in his remarks at the official opening of Andrew Andersons’ and PTW Architects’ Stage One ‘New Look’ at the NGA on Thursday, 30 September. Clearly, for the money involved and ...

For an Australian collector to have amassed one substantial and internationally recognised collection of Victorian art during the late twentieth century is unusual. Having parted with the first and replaced it with a second, amassed in the twenty-first, is extraordinary. But then John Schaeffer ...

... (read more)

A thirty-year correspondence between two Australian artists is notable, but when the artists are father and daughter it is doubly interesting. Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen corresponded regularly throughout their lives: Hans writing from The Cedars, the family house near Hahndorf, in the Adelaide Hills; and Nora from Sydney, London, New Guinea, Pacific Islands, or wherever she happened to be. Hans Heysen is celebrated for his landscape paintings – those South Australian views of eucalypts in a landscape, which changed the way generations looked at the Australian countryside – and for his desert landscapes of the Flinders Ranges. Nora, the only one of his nine children to become an artist, is known for her still lifes and portraits. Their work is well represented in Australian public collections. Hans was unquestionably the better artist, and always had the greater reputation. Nora, however, won major prizes (including, somewhat controversially, the 1938 Archibald Prize) and managed to forge an independent career for herself; she by no means lived in her father’s shadow.

... (read more)

Who says printed books are dead and that the e-book is the future? Ars Sacra, weighing in at eleven kilos, with eight hundred pages and two thousand colour images, sets a new standard for the coffee-table book. While an iPad version would be lighter and not require a reinforced table, justice can only be done to this large-format book in printed form. Spanning late antiquity to the present, Ars Sacra presents the Christian artistic tradition through its greatest monuments and works of art. While many of the illustrations are familiar – Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque are well covered – the photographs are superb. Some buildings have multiple images and those from Poland and Russia, for instance, show the important regional architectural styles that developed away from the sphere of Rome.

... (read more)

Percy Lindsay was the eldest and least well-known of the remarkable Lindsay brothers (the others were Norman, Lionel, and Darryl). He was born at Creswick, Victoria, in 1870, where he received his initial artistic training before moving to Melbourne in 1895. It was there that year that he first exhibited paintings, in a group show that included such luminaries as David Davies, E. Phillips Fox, and Walter Withers (the latter also taught him). Lindsay continued exhibiting his paintings until 1951: he had seven solo exhibitions between 1926 and 1935. In 1901 he took up illustrative work, which he produced for the remainder of his career. Lindsay married in 1907 and moved to Sydney in 1918, where he lived until his death in 1952.

... (read more)

The cookery sections of bookshops are crammed with bright new titles, but how necessary are they? Inevitably, they are repetitive – how many ways are there to boil an egg, make stock, prepare a vinaigrette? – and presentation is often privileged over content. In such a crowded market, awash with flashy covers, glossy photography, and populist titles acclaiming the latest celebrity chef, or niche cuisine, how can we sort out the cream from the whey? How can we be confident that books will edify or endure? Gratifyingly, some publishers are reprinting older works, providing a balance between the new and inventive, the tried and trusted.

... (read more)

If Australian art has sometimes been perceived as wanting in style and opulence, recent art museum exhibitions and monographs examining the art and artists of the Edwardian era tell another story and reveal that there is abundant glamour in Australian art. The Edwardians (2004) and George W. Lambert Retrospective (2007) – both from the National Gallery of Australia – and Bertram Mackennal (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2007) have succeeded in presenting Australian art in the grand manner from this most extravagant period.

... (read more)