NCWQ Arts Report: April 2021

Arts Report April 2021

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts, Letters and Music Adviser (

Linguist and philosopher, NOAM CHOMSKY, said that postmodernism is meaningless because it adds nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge. America’s CAMILLE PAGLIA declares that after four decades of postmodernism permeating the art world, there is very little interesting or important work in fine arts. Irony that was once bold and creative seems now utterly bland, exhausted and tedious. “…’hip’ or ‘cool’ young artists,” said Paglia, “…are painfully self-conscious and not encouraged to be enthusiastic, emotional and visionary…”  Ref. Oxford Dictionary (American English) Ref. The Essential Chomsky The Bodley Head, London 2008.

Christopher HITCHENS, in his book “Why Orwell Matters” promoted simple, clear and direct expression of ideas – opposing “The Postmodernists’ tyranny (which) wears people down by boredom and semi-literate prose.” Footnote 117 ISBN 978-0-465-03050-7 2002 

In the mid-late 20th century, as postmodernism swept across philosophy, the arts, architecture and criticism, common targets included universalist ideas, truth, human nature, reason, science, language and social progress.  


In the world of MUSIC, John CAGE mourned the detachment from prevailing narratives of beauty and objectivity common to MODERNISM. Further reading: ‘Postmodernist Fiction’ Brian McHale 1987 and ‘Constructing Postmodernism’ Brian McHale 1992.

In full flight during the 1980s and 1990s, postmodernism was characterized by tendencies to self-consciousness, self-referentiality, linguistic and moral relativism, and irreverence. Relativism implies that obvious moral wrongs are acceptable – inevitably then – anything goes This demolished the language,  ethics ,reason, boundaries, universal definitions, truth and reverence that had established a civilised world. Relativism, then, opposes the known world of civilisation. The demolition of former guidelines is evident in language, art, literature, newscasts, film, school and college curricula, where truth and meaning are obscured or demolished by widespread and multiple semi-literacies. Jennifer Ann Davies & Peter F. Davies 2021 SDGs 3/4/11


Although ART may be many things to many people, there was evidence that both modernism and postmodernism tendencies influenced works in the recent Archibald Prize 2020 exhibition.

Director of Cairns Regional Gallery, Andrea May Churcher, cited a program of exhibitions  that explore new directions in international, national and regional arts. Ben Quilty will speak at the Gallery Foundation’s Gala Fundraising Dinner, and award-winning artist, Wendy Sharpe, will talk about her work and the prestigious Archibald Prize 2020 exhibition.

The Cairns Art Gallery is the only venue outside NSW selected for the touring Archibald Prize 2020 exhibition. First awarded in 1921, the Archibald continues to be Australia’s favourite art award, and a who’s who of Australian culture! Many entries were stunningly spectacular – beautifully enigmatic – I did not photograph the winning entry. Whatever one’s philosophy, what is evident, obscure or demolished glares and screams at the audience, particularly in this exhibition. Immensely interesting!

Extending the gallery’s research interests in works by Indigenous and black artists from  Australia and the world’s tropic zone has given the community works such as RITUAL – the past in the present – an ambitious project that includes works by more than thirty North Australian and Asia Pacific artists……These works encourage discussion, comments and interpretation of issues of cultural identity. SDGs 3/4/8/11/17

QAGOMA offers a wide range of viewings, and quotes, of the works and lens of William Yang, that his works are “evocative, joyous and candid…” Yang’s prolific body of work reveals his fascination with people and their similarities and differences and exploration of his own Chinese-Australian identity, as well as a powerful series of landscapes.

There is also a workshop offering to teenagers: Truth, Lies and the Photograph.  This includes exploration of the importance of documenting your community through art.



As many libraries open their doors to greater numbers, it is heartening to note the volume of programs, Storytime sessions and Talk Read Play and Sing sessions, that have become available for children! Embattled by the demolition of language, the loss of meaning and the deletion of grammar, parents and carers are delighted by this offer to assist in one of the vital elements in the development of our children.

My understanding is that these sorts of sessions are becoming available in many coastal, inland, regional and metropolitan areas.  With a target group of 0-5 year olds, this is a rich prospect in a world that has lost much of the meaning of actual words; the ability to articulate well and the skills and abilities to play, chat and sing with the kids, adding colour, flavour and something almost untouchable, to their learning experiences of Language!

First 5 Forever is an initiative of the Queensland Government coordinated First 5 Forever is an initiative of the Queensland Government coordinated by the State Library and delivered in partnership with local government. 3/4/10/11/17

QBD Books offered a range to celebrate Female Authors just prior International Women’s  Day. I have not read any of them, but some may appeal to readers. Titles are easy to locate. QBD Books and Australian Geographic

As I still ‘surf’ the book swap shelves, I have discovered many enjoyable and memorable reads. In this postmodernist era many Australian authors are NOT being edited well, and this is particularly noticeable when one reads a wide variety of authors from many different countries. With renewed attention to Language, Literacy, Truth and Meaning, this frequently noted flaw could and should, disappear from our publishing world. I have  been selecting books for their wealth of ‘letters’, depth, themes, tone and vintage, so we do recognise change and continuity; meaning – reverence and irreverence – an interesting linguistic feast!

FOOL ME ONCE – Harlan Coben – “You think you know the truth.  The truth is you know nothing.” Dark secrets and a terrifying hunt for the truth lie at the heart of this gripping thriller. Penguin Random House UK 2016

3rd DEGREE – James Patterson with Andrew Gross – celebrating the best-loved heroines from the WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB! Headline Book Publishing 2004

DEPRAVED HEART – Patricia Cornwell – The first – the best – the expert!

LEGAL Definitions of “DEPRAVED HEART” Void of social duty and fatally bend on mischief. Mayes v.People, Illinois Supreme Court 1883.

Depraved indifference to human life. People v Fengold, Court of Appeals N.Y. 2006 Engrossing with shocking twists and glaring truths!

“Technology made everything better for a while and now it seems life is circling back around to the dark ages. Digital communication has begun to make me feel I’m moving faster than ever as I lose the trusted navigational equipment I was born with. My own eyes. My own ears. My own sense of touch. I miss paper and pen. I miss face-to-face conversations. I worry we’re on a collision course with doubt and delusion on a galactic scale. “ p 202

“Lucy suspects that what I’ve found is a metamaterial possibly used in creating objects that bend and diffuse light.”       “….invisibility technology…(also known)…as augmented reality or optical camouflage.” P244 Harper Collins Publishers New York 2015


THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE is a true story of an Unlikely Heroine.  Diane ACKERMAN  When Germany invades Poland, Luftwaffe bombers devastate Warsaw and the city’s zoo. With most of their animals killed, or stolen away to Berlin   zookeepers Jan and Antonia Zabinski begin smuggling Jews into the empty cages. This is a remarkable story, which shows us the human and personal impact of war….but more than anything, it is a story of decency and sacrifice triumphing over terror and oppression. Jan and Antonia saved Jews from the death camps of the Holocaust. Headline Publishing Group 2013

THE ZOOKEEPER’S WAR – Steven CONTE. In Berlin, who can you trust? Interestingly, both of these books were given to me, this one a week after The Zookeeper’s Wife. Steven Conte, though, was raised in rural New South Wales, travelled widely in Europe and Australia and has lived in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. “It is 1943 and each night in a bomb shelter beneath the Berlin Zoo an Australian woman, Vera, shelters with her German husband, Axel, the zoo’s director…..Harper Collins Australia 2007.

THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE – Millennium 11 – Stieg LARSSON. “Suddenly the male preserve of Swedish crime fiction seems strangely quaint and middle-aged. It has been infiltrated by an exotic new heroine….A combination of urgent, multi-layered thriller, traditional police procedural and articulate examination of the way a supposedly open-minded country like Sweden treats both its vulnerable women and children in care… “The Girl Who Played With Fire” is that rare thing – sequel that is even better than the book that went before…to be read in great hungry chunks.” Louise France, Observer. MacLehose Press London, 2009.

THE GIRLD WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE – continuing the late Stieg Larsson’s series – David LAGERCRANTZ – a sinister social experiment that may also unlock the mystery of the heroine’s harrowing childhood. The dragon inked into Salander’s back is a constant reminder of her pledge to fight the injustice she finds on every side, and she will discover the truth, whatever the cost. MacLehose Press London, 2017

THE GIRL WHO LIVED TWICE – David LAGERRCRANTZ – “She is a poster child for a distrustful, damaged age….an avenging feminist angel.” Ben Macintyre, The Times.  2019

THE BOOK OF TOMORROW – Cecelia AHERN – A bored teenager, a travelling library, a large  leather-bound book locked with a gold clasp and padlock…What is discovered within the pages takes Tamara’s breath away and shakes her world to its core…A mesmerising story about how tomorrow can change what happens today.  Very Irish! Harper Collins, London. 2009

THE ESSENTIAL CHOMSKY – Noam CHOMSKY Edited by Anthony Arnove. Chomsky’s writings on politics and language have established him as a pre-eminent public intellectual and one of the most original and wide-ranging political and social critics of our time. ‘Noam Chomsky is one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism.’ Edward Said ‘The Essential Chomsky’ assembles the core of his most important writings and allows us to appreciate both the range of his interests and the scale of his achievement. This is an unprecedented, comprehensive overview of Chomsky’s thought. The Bodley Head, London.2008.  SDGs 3/4/11/16

BEAUTIFUL MUSIC offered by the Brisbane City Council – LORD MAYOR’S CITY HALL CONCERT – Riverside Guitar Ensemble – Tuesday 27 April 2021

Internationally acclaimed classical guitarist, Karin SCHUPP, will bring an engaging and eclectic repertoire from classical and contemporary composers, to life! The Ensemble is resident at the Queensland Conservatorium so the audience can enjoy Queensland’s finest young professional guitarists as well as advanced players.

The following is a compilation for the International Council of Women for whom I am also an Advisor in Arts/Letters.  For New Readers, SDGs = Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. I bring this to you because we do not always receive information on what other councils are doing.  Jennifer Ann Davies: ICW – Conseil International des Femmes- April 2021.

Communications, Celebrations and Concerns continue, though Covid clouded. ICW members compiled COVID-19 responses for publication. January 2021. Concerns may lessen in a 50/50 world, towards  which we strive. Ukraine’s president, Lyudmyla POROKHNYAK, and sociologist, Nadiia KOMAROVA, cite:- “…women suffer greatly from reduced income, additional burdens of  schooling children, caring for the sick and domestic violence…Although gender related, 15 to 40% of victims are male …elderly and children are most vulnerable…”. Domestic Violence in UKRAINE during COVID-19 Pandemic March 2021.” According to UN Population Fund, the situation in Ukraine does NOT differ from world trends…” SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/10/16/17

UK, Turkey, Ireland, Africa, Tunisia and Australia are a few of the many countries that still have flaws in systems overridden by civil and family law. Australia has a huge blockage in the Federal system, which our Councils lobby to address with projects to attain “Access to the rule of law for victims of domestic violence.” NCW Apr/June 2020. Scotland hopes to eliminate the psycho-drama of today’s politics and gain focus on policy and issues that will contribute constructively to the protection of all. BBC 31 Mar 2021. In the UK, (further assaulted with the Brazil variant of Covid) –  from London to Pembrokeshire, Sunshine, personal contact and smiles help replenish HOPE! BBC 31 Mar 2021. Experts, however, declare that people in the UK will need facemasks until 2022 – and may need to  protect themselves for years to come. 6 Mar 2021.SDGs 1/8/10/11/17

Honouring the notion of 50/50, Eleonore Hauer-Rona, ICW Permanent Representative to UN in Vienna, Austria, cites a resolution from the Global Report on Trafficking: Effective Implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. 10th Session October 2020. SDGs 1/2/4/8/10/11/16

Congratulations to the National Council of Turkish Women who provided wonderful material for the Covid publication, and compiled beautiful art pieces in a book called PANDEMIC ART BOOK OF NCTW 2020. You will enjoy their photos and projects! SDGs 3/4/17

The Cairns African Association hosted a vibrant function to celebrate 2021 International Women’s Day! Energised with music, dance, song, fashion, food and fun, the group, whose members are from a variety of African ethnic backgrounds, representing more than 15 African countries, welcomed us with Joy!! In August 2019, group members implemented a Skills Appreciation Program for Resettled Refugees and Migrants – MAISHA BORA PROGRAM. “Maish Bora” is a Swahili phrase meaning “better life”. The program recognises the immense potential of their people and hope to grow, appreciate and showcase the skills that will positively impact the cultural diversity of local communities, and assist with Language/Literacy development. March 2021 Australia SDGs 3/4/8/10/11/12

HIDDEN NO MORE – A Joint initiative of UNAA Queensland, Australia revealed: Australian and Queensland Economies are propped up by slavery, using backpackers, migrants, families and youth often in unsafe living and working conditions. In the Netherlands 4 banks  investigated revealed transactions that found 700 cases of corruption and 2 new slavery rings in Europe, after only 2 weeks of analysis. Reporting Dr Donnell Davis NCWQ/UNAA, Claire Moore, Mayee Warren HNM, Chris Knight Soroptimist International. Virtual. Report 2 Dec 2020. SDGs 1/2/3/4/8/10/11/16

Modern map from report by Dr Donnell Davis UNAA/NCWQ

 Truth and fiction; balance and dissonance are powerfully interpreted through the photographs of Sammy Baloji – from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ade Adekola who lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. The artists juxtapose bleak scenes from a Chinese owned mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo with colourful images of the miners shacks. Adekola’s ethnoscapes explore paradoxical traits of social networks, globalisation and identity. The artist superimposes streetscapes shot in Lagos, over backdrops of major American, Asian and European cities. Doing this, we are confronted by hybrid streetscapes filled with an unnerving visual tension between simultaneously existing worlds! Stunning works included the Eiffel Tower and Le Louvre. Unfortunately, a new lockdown was imposed and I did not get  Cairns Art Gallery Australia March 2021. SDGs 4/8/9/10/11/12/17

One of the mines in the Congo/Cairns Art Gallery Australia


Italy is still offering TOURS – The Science of the Renaissance, on which one can encounter the great scientific minds and discoveries of the Renaissance, on a cultural adventure across Florence, Pisa and Bologna. Discoveries include: astronomic, anatomic, architectural, medical and mathematic perspectives, and combine with the fascinating stories of polymath’s Da Vinci and Galileo, and tales and works of formerly hidden women artists!  SDGs 4/12/17

The world of letters is rich in Truth – and that truth includes heartache, brutality, cruelty and loss as well as love, hope, joy, kindness, friendship and kinship.  An extraordinary book has come our  way…“Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes” A heart-rending memoir that will both horrify and inspire. Martha LONG was born to a teenage mother in the slums of 1950s Dublin.  Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh).The memoir is written in Martha’s dialect – a rich Irish/Celtic/Anglo lingual mix! A must read for everyone with a heart! SDGs 1/2/3/5/10/11/16

Stay SAFE and WELL.

Jennifer Ann DAVIES
National Council of Women Queensland Inc.
International Council of Women/ Conseil International des Femmes



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