Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crumbs for Sparrow

Frederick McCubbin is best known for his Pioneer triptych, which wouldn’t be acceptable today, not at all. There are no slaughtered Aborigines strewn about the canvas’ periphery and it is quite clear by the third panel that trees have been murdered in the name of mankind’s hegemonic oppression of all things natural and ferny. If Fred were to try and bag a  grant for such an obscene work these days he would pretty soon get a very solid education in what the taxpayers’ representatives demand for someone else’s dollar, and it sure ain’t his sort of stuff – not even in Victoria, where an allegedly conservative government sometimes makes squeaky noises about fiscal rectitude.

Instead, from Arts Victoria, we get a long list of things a Liberal government is happy to support, one recipient leaping from the ledger being noted communist Jeff Sparrow, whose little-read but much-funded Overland quarterly has just picked up another $50,000, presumably for its courage in publishing insights like Rowan Cahill’s rumination on the militarism at the heart of the Australian soul. Yes, militarism, as in jackboots and overseas jaunts to slaughter Japanese, Germans, North Koreans and many other varieties of the despised Other. Sometimes Guy Rundle also pens a little thought for Overland, so at least it can be said of Cahill that he is coherent, relatively speaking, and not at all out of step with Sparrow, who has been clambering about on the barricades since Labor’s defeat, breast bared and the flag of revolution in his worker’s hand.

Culture wars work the same fashion, except the gun the Left possesses is the possibility for mass action. We can save the climate only if we turn the environment into an issue in which everyday Australian feel they have a stake. That’s the escalation we need – and if we can manage it, the culture war rhetoric will become risible

Fellow Victorians, isn’t it re-assuring to have a Coalition government that knows what it stands for? In this case raising $50,000 in speed-camera fines and giving the lot to Sparrow of the Proletariat.

Footnote: Sparrow’s contributions to the sum of human knowledge also command respect at the federal level, as does his magazine, most recently to the tune of $183,000 (plus another $15,000 for a state of the art website).


  1. Sparrow wants to overthrow the government so it stands to reason that the government would fund him.

  2. The beauty of McCubbin is that he didn't need any grants. Not that there were any going back then anyway.
    It's about time we returned to this position.

  3. David [a person not the magnificent statue]October 2, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I agree with Oliver. If you want to earn a living as an "artist" good luck to you but don't expect to live off my tax dollar. Paint/write/sculpt something that people will buy with their own money - or find a modern day Medici family.
    I hadn't thought of McCubbin's work as illustrating tree murder. Well done that man - its more important to feed people and that sometimes requires the noble sacrifice of one of Gaia's vegetable critters.

  4. Especially when sites like Quadrant recently got themselves screwed financially.

  5. The Old and Unimproved DaveOctober 3, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    OverLAND? The highly localised green-growing grass would suggest the presence of a septic tank...