The last couple of Saturdays were dry and crisp, making it easy to be outside in a sunny spot by the beautiful Exhibition Buildings for an hour or more to do some sketching.
I found this view from the south side with the gardens in the foreground and then developed the painting from photos. (As Andy Goldsworthy pointed out – once you start to struggle, you get cold so I worked fairly fast.)
I liked this perspective of the monumental building rather modestly shielded by trees. Once upon a time I drew and painted lots of buildings, but I need to get back into the swing of it and this one is crackingly complicated – so I might have another go one day – it’s got me in.
The Royal Exhibition Building and gardens are World Heritage listed and are a superb oasis and the crown of Melbourne. The Carlton side north of the Exhibition Building was completely stripped out to house the newer Melbourne Museum and the ‘boulevard’ between the two buildings is sadly unresolved in landscape architect terms (unless minimalism and unruly expanses of gravel were an intended design statement.)
Designed by Joseph Reed and built in 1880 to host the World Fair (or International Exposition if you are a bit posh) – the Exhibition Buildings still stands and continues to fulfil its original function, as do Joseph Reed’s other great contributions to Melbourne – the State Library, which he designed as a young skip of 30 fresh off the boat from Cornwall – and the Melbourne Town Hall.
However Reed is somewhat pipped in the excessively youthful Melbourne architect stakes by Liverpool born J J Clark who designed Melbourne’s elaborate renaissance revival Treasury Buildings at the age of just 19. Clark came to Melbourne to seek his fortune in the Goldfields but ended up as a draughtsman’s apprentice at the age of 14.
You can’t help wondering what all these young people are doing wasting their time at University studying architecture when 150 years ago the Victorians seemed to just get on with it and build stuff.