For Auld Lang Syne

I have been looking at the world through tartan frames recently, thanks to the current exhibition ‘For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation’ and its accompanying catalogue ($75 hb, 335 pp, 9780987234575). Actually, to call it a catalogue doesn’t do it justice; its 335 pages ransack dozens of different angles of the Caledonian experience, with essays by its curators,Alison Inglis and Patricia Tryon Macdonald, the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s director Gordon Morrison, and a dozen others.

Ballarat (which I have always thought of as a predominantly Irish town) has gone all highland-flingy over the show; a new plaid for the city has been specially commissioned to coincide with the event, in grey, blue, and gold; and Prince Charles, in his capacity as Great Steward of Scotland, has written the catalogue’s foreword, in which he laments not being able to come over, and describes the early illustrators of flora and fauna as artists, scientists, and explorers all in one.

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