Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1911Share Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
The official opening for Celestial Empire: Life in China1644-1911 was ‘bigger than the gladiator’ star Russell Crowe’s appearance at the NLA according to Chairman Ryan Stokes and we well remember that night with lots of ladies all a flutter, his resonant voice best heard with your eyes shut and my contention that his suit was too tight.
PM Malcolm Turnbull on the other hand as the official opener for this exhibition looked the part, performed admirably and taught us a few things in his address to this patient crowd. And to the delight of Director General Anne-Marie Schwirtlich spruiked the catalogue as a must buy at any cost.
There’s been a big lead up to this opening with an earlier media event to peek at the exquisite architectural sketch of the Forbidden City Palace rolled out with precision and reverence amongst the planks, paint and plinths being prepared for the space as the creators worked with the curator Dr. Nathan Woolley to prepare for the January 2 exhibition ‘soft’ opening and since then a steady 20,000 people have wandered in to see 170 rare and precious items that includes 88 from the National Library of China and the rest from the NLA’s extensive collection.
And now it’s officially opened, whatever that might mean, and appropriately timed to coincide with Chinese New Year celebrations for the Year of the Monkey. We have a very cute plastic version created by artist Claire Treacey from recycled plastic bottles sitting on the verandah at the NLA looking like he’d like to take off towards the lake but on this occasion it was ‘monkey can’t’, he had to be stoic in the face of the Lion Dance lion jumping about attempting to intimidate the PM and his wife Lucy who laughed along before gathering their entourage and heading inside.
A few pork buns, a glass of red and a handful of fortune cookies ( not Chinese, they were created in San Francisco) were all we needed to wish the exhibition well and advise that the cookies’ message was – yes all the ones we ate - “Do that which your heart tells you. Visit Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1911”