Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Pool: Australia's exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale

Australia's exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is The Pool. It provides an insight into this aspect of Australia's cultural identity. Janet Holmes a Court, the Commissioner for the Australian exhibition writes: "A pool has been created within the exhibition space along with an immensely multi-sensory experience that transports visitors poolside..."

As I can't visit Venice this year, I've contented myself with buying the book. There are contributions from:

  • Tim Flannery - an influential environmentalist, discussing the history and continuing relevance of the Great Artesian Basin, including the hot pools at Moree, Lightning Ridge and Pilliga in NSW and other states;
  • Ian Thorpe, Olympic champion, talks about what is so appealing about the act of swimming, what he loves about pools and the feel of water;
  • Designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales explore their experiences of the pool growing up, and the pool in memories of childhood;
  • Christos Tsolkas, author of Barracuda (starting soon as a drama series on ABC TV). He sees the pool as a deeply symbolic artefact of Australian culture. He tells the story of the pool from his childhood into adulthood;
  • Anna Funder, award winning author, looks at the importance of public pools in the towns and cities of Australia;
  • Hetti Perkins tells the story of the Freedom Riders who challenged the exclusion of Aboriginal people from the public pool in Moree in 1965. It was a turning point for the struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia; working towards a PhD on the role of the public pool in Australia. Here she talks about competitive swimming and its legacy;
  • Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly has got into deep water in many places on his tours and speaks of a place for family gatherings, celebrations and everyday meditations. 
It even includes my favourite Women's Weekly swimming pool cake recipe. And lots of great illustrations.