Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In which the fish is surprised by a tragedy
He has always been present at any significant art event in Sydney for as long as I can remember.
As a young art student, I remember Nick Waterlow's name spoken with both affection and reverence: he was responsible for putting Sydney on the cultural map with his curating of the Biennale of Sydney. Recently I watched him in dialogue with Caroline Christov-Bakargiev, marvelling at the ease in which he articulated his ideas, the way he spoke, and how much he was respected. His knowledge and understanding was international.
He didn't suffer fools gladly, and was not known to schmooze or curry favour with artists, yet he was able to create exhibitions which demonstrated ideas: they always showed things in a new light. He was passionate about art, and he was passionate about ideas.
I saw him buzzing around the MCA at last years' Primavera, with his little greek cap on his head, always part of what was going on. He looked wonderfully offbeat, his face maintaining a regal air in counterpoint to his general appearance. Occasionally I plucked up the courage to have a chat with him, because to be honest, he always made me slightly nervous. I didnt always talk to him about art, but sometimes about his daughter, Chloe, who I had been one of my very first students when I began teaching. He was close to Chloe.
I remember her when she first started high school: she was just like a Victorian Porcelain doll: beautiful white skin, dark eyes and ringlets. She had a particular look about her, and always remained a contained child, growing up to be a beautiful woman. I see now she abandoned the curls, no doubt letting some straightening device loose on them. I very much wish I did not see a photo of Chloe's straightened hair in the newspaper, I truly don't. I would prefer to think of her wearing her crown of flowers in the Jubilarian ceremony when she graduated. With ribbons hanging down.
Nick Waterlow has been so much a part of the College of Fine Arts for so very long I cannot imagine the place without him.
It is all so senseless. As Ian Howard says, it is the worst kind of tragedy.
(Photograph from the COFA website. My apologies.)