TDF hearts Tassie! – MONA highlights

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Monday 18th April 2011

OH just LOOK how pretty Hobart is!  Cute houses everywhere you look, water and boats and blue skies (gorgeous weather not guaranteed!) These pics by me.

OK so this week is a bit of a first for The Design Files – it’s a whole week of posts inspired by my recent trip to TASMANIA!  I figured, since everyone and their dog is talking about visiting MONA (AND YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST GO before the current exhibition ends in July!), that it would be useful to highlight a few other lovely Tassie-based happenings for you to check out if and when you visit!

SO I hope you enjoy your virtual holiday in Hobart this week!  You’ll be treated to a unique Hobart shopping / walking guide, a look inside one very gorgeous Hobart home, an interview with Tassie-based photographer Sean Fennessy, and many more Tasmania-inspired tip-offs!  I must thank many people who kindly shared their local knowledge – Catherine of Little Glowing Lights who photographed this week’s Hobart Home for us, Sarah K who lived in Tassie many moons ago, Megan Morton who shared some secrets, TDF’s lovely occasional helper Miriam McGarry who grew up in Hobart and had some great recommendations… and so many Tweeters who sent me to their favourite cafes and shops during my visit!  Thankyou!

OF COURSE the week has to start with a little look at Hobart’s newest and most talked about attraction – the Museum of Old and New Art!  Many of the incredible photographs below have been kindly shared by photographer Sean Fennessy, who documented the amazing MONA opening party back in January.  Thanks so much Sean!  (You will get to learn a little more about Sean on Friday!)

MONA is quite frankly the most amazing and utterly unique art gallery I’ve ever been in.  Entirely self-funded (apparently to the tune of $175 MILLION!) by Tasmanian-born eccentric millionaire and philanthropist David Walsh, the gallery was intended, in Walsh’s own words, to be a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’.  Mission accomplished!  AMAZINGLY, Walsh paid for the project with money earned as a professional gambler.  Well I never.

It’s lucky there are no tax payer dollars here, because there’s little chance Mr Walsh would have had his way if he had a funding body to answer to!  MONA houses an eclectic, at times controversial, but always entertaining collection of works – from ancient Egyptian relics to eyebrow-raising contemporary installation, and paintings by revered local heroes such as Sidney Nolan.  The work is curated and hung in the most brilliantly indecipherable way (no chronology here), and there are no labels on any of the artwork.  Instead every visitor is given an iTouch audio device that offers insightful, cheeky and unexpected commentary, keeping you giggling and wide-eyed with wonder as you explore all three subterranean floors of the gallery.

MONA is free.  DO NOT MISS the debut exhibition, MONANISM which ends July 19th!  ALSO to avoid disappointment, book the MONA ferry in advance, online here.  You can get a bus, but nothing beats arriving by boat!

Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale

MUSEUM OPEN DAILY 10.00am – 6.00pm

MONA exterior (top image – Sean Fennessy), and incredible grounds overlooking the water (bottom image by me).

MONA subterranean interior – top image by Sean Fennessy. Bottom two images – Lucy Feagins.  Truck in a Corridor by James Angus – one of many highlights (enhanced by the hilarious iTouch app commentary!)

Both these shots by Sean Fennessy – top image shows Sidney Nolan’s mural Snake (made up of 1620 smaller paintings).

Julius Popp’s Bit.Fall waterfall installation had us mesmerised early on.  Apparently it draws random words from the internet, spelling each one out for a split second before each word vanishes forever.  Truly beautiful, particularly with a backdrop of natural sandstone in the gallery interior.  This photo by Sean Fennessy.

Julius Popp’s Bit.Fall waterfall – excuse my very jolty camera work!  You really need to see it in motion!
My dear friends Toohey and Kitty on the ferry back from MONA!  SERIOUSLY how can anywhere be this beautiful!?  (Do not forget to pre-book the ferry people!)

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Monday 18th April 2011


  • Lily 6 years ago

    Yay, Tasmania! That wharf in the first pic is what I see on Mondays and Fridays when I walk to art school. I’ve been to MONA 3 times already and I’d like to go back soon!

  • narelle Badalassi 6 years ago

    So happy you like Tassie ,so many talented artists and makers here and wonderful places to visit did you mange to go to the tahoon air walk it is stunning walking about and through the the native forests
    I am looking forward to reading the rest of your Tassie posts

  • Esz 6 years ago

    Tassie rocks! I’m so getting to MONA when I go stay at my folks at the end of May. Even my brother liked the gallery and that’s really saying something!

  • Marie Biswell 6 years ago

    OMG. Do you know how much I needed this post! I just moved to Tassie, in fact I am sitting here in this empty house awaiting the removalists to turn up, sitting here wondering if we made the right decision. So thanks TDF, you made me feel wayyyyyyyy better!! Now I wanna go see MONA!

  • Ming-Zhu Hii 6 years ago

    Oh, Lucy.

    I am so happy that you’re featuring Tasmania on The Design Files. I grew up there. I “escaped” when I was 18 years old to move to Melbourne, partly because there was so little cultural infrastructure and such a small artistic network. But – how things have changed.

    Everywhere I turn now, I meet other ex-pat Tassie artists in Melbourne & Sydney; and with the launch of MONA, it feels like a new wave of creative awesome has hit its sweet shores.

    The fact that you have chosen to highlight the aesthetic & cultural richness of a place that once felt almost devoid of it (to an art-famished teenager) means the world to me. And in truth, it makes me want to book a ticket right now and head on home.

    Thank you.

  • cleamoureuse 6 years ago

    wow… I’m going to try to get this as a birthday present!!!

  • Lauren 6 years ago

    This is perfect timing! Planning a trip to Tassie very soon – and who better to scope out the best places to visit than Miss Lucy!! Have a blast x

  • Kelly 6 years ago

    I’m so happy you’re shining a spotlight on us this week Lucy!
    Super happy that you got to enjoy some nice weather while you were here too.
    NOTHING beats the Hobart waterfront on a beautiful day.
    Will keep checking back to see what other nooks and crannies you explored :)

  • Sarah B 6 years ago

    I’m so pleased to hear how much you loved Tassie! I think it’s a great place and I really look forward to seeing the rest of your Tassie posts :)

  • Jane 6 years ago

    Oh, Lucy! What a fab week lies in wait for us. Having grown up here and watched all our friends drift away (including us) to the ‘mainland’, it’s been fascinating watching so many of us (yes, we’ve done it, too!) return in recent years to raise our young families.

    Hobart today is so much more dynamic and interesting, especially now MONA’s arrived – bravo you for giving us the spotlight this week. Like my friend Sarah B, I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve!

  • Simone 6 years ago

    This is such fantastic timing! I’m am taking my husband on a surprise anniversary get away at the end of this week to Tassie so I will be keenly reading all Tassie posts. Looking forward to a post recommending the best coffee in Hobart?! Thanks! x

  • May Brady 6 years ago

    I’m heading off on my first trip to TAS in 3 weeks, specifically to visit MONA – your timing couldn’t have been better! I have a few friends who were involved in the opening (one an artist, one a musician) but was overseas at the time, so have been itching to get there since January.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insider tips. I simply can’t wait to be there!

  • Madeleine 6 years ago

    Hey Lucy, here I am literally killing time at devonport waiting to board the spirit of Tassie having just left marvelous Mona. Loved your post, only wish your tassie feature was a week earlier. Our trip was amazing. Can’t wait to hear about more hidden gems on the
    ol’ apple isle. xo Maddi

  • Diane 6 years ago

    I managed to visit MONA last month and just loved it! Looking forward to more Tasmanian-inspired posts!

  • Nicole 6 years ago

    Hi, thanks for the great post! I’m heading to MONA in a couple of weeks and am going to take your advice to prebook the ferry but was wondering if you could let me know how long is long enough to spend at MONA? Is it an all day thing (as in book the first ferry in and last ferry out) or do you think that might be a little too long? Cheers

  • Lucy 6 years ago

    Hey Nicole! MONA is not that HUGE. It is do-able in half a day. We raced around and got through it all in 3 hrs, however probably 4 or 5 would be better. We were in a rush because we were with a friend who had to leave Hobart that day. It is probably good to get there when it opens, allocate 3.5 hours to do the gallery, then another hour or so to eat in the cafe and enjoy the grounds?

  • Nicole 6 years ago

    Hi Lucy,
    Thanks for the quick response- I’ll definitely take your advice and allow a good 4-5 hours to do the gallery, cafe and grounds. Much appreciated, thank you!

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