Obviously the Central TAFE isn't exactly the New York School of Visual Arts, but I thought they might have one or two interesting things. And I was right. While there was a lot of triteness and gibberish in the work, there were a few nice pieces. It's difficult to describe in words exactly why one art work succeeds where another fails - it's a matter of fine craftsmanship, unexpected materials, and a big old spark of insight in the depiction of the subject. I liked the heavily structured three dimensional coil of copper wire, the huge iron bolt threaded with silky smooth lozenges of wood, and the sepia photograph of suburbia exquisitely corrugated to resemble a backyard fence or a row of terraced rooves.
Unfortunately the crowd at the auction was heavily populated by parents of the students, and friends and relatives of the parents of the students. That is, people who don't go to art auctions very often, people who have a fair bit of money, and people who get caught up in the giddy thrill of the moment and don't realise until far too late that they've just spent $300 on a clumsily carved piece of wood barely worth a quarter of that. The bids started out reasonably but as the excitement and the free booze started to kick in they shot up above and beyond the range of sense. I left after less than an hour.
Still, at least I got to observe and occasionally smirk at the sartorial splendor of junior art attempters in their native habitat. My thoughts tended to run along the lines of the following:
"Oh, you're wearing a keffiyeh as a belt, thus demonstrating that you're politically aware but also willing to transgress the semiotics of the garment. I hope that everyone else here recognises your brilliance."
"Boys should not wear hand painted shoes. Actually, boys probably shouldn't wear hand painted anything."
"Serious artists wear black, because all of their ornamentation comes from within. Dilettantes wear fancifully embroidered silk smoking jackets."
That's the beauty of the art world - they can look down their noses at me because I'm wearing an expensive suit, and I can look down my nose at them because they're dressed like twits. Everybody wins!