turning the sod on the new mca building

On Wednesday (my first proper office-day) I was, by chance, present for the “turning the sod” on the building of the MCA’s new building extension.

Tony tipped me off, and I arrived just in time. An array of federal politicians were on hand, ready to don their pristine hardhats and hi-vis vests, to witness the cool earth moving machine take its first symbolic bite into the crust of the MCA car park. The car park will make way for the building extension, which will apparently make room for an expanded education facility, lecture theatre and events space, amongst other things.

For more “turning the sod” pictures – from other places – click here. It seems it’s quite a pervasive cultural ritual, a bit like smashing the champagne on a new ship. The normal way of doing it is for the visiting dignitary to shovel a bit of dirt. And in fact there were some lovely new shovels – and virgin sledgehammers(!) – available for this, but on the day they were overlooked for the more powerful diesel digger.

I haven’t yet looked into the new building in any detail, in terms of its environmental footprint – but in a recent chat, Euan did mention that it’s incorporated many features of intelligent design (and I don’t mean the anti-evolutionary theory). More on those as I dig deeper…

Anyway. You wanna know about the photo at the top of this blog post, right? (“Gladhandling”, as Euan called it).

For those reading this from inside the museum, it will come as no surprise to hear that Peter Woodford-Smith – who, if I’m not mistaken, is the MCA’s longest continously serving employee – is responsible for this media coup. PWS cajoled me into going and having our photos taken with Mr Garrett, our fine nation’s Minister for Environmental Protection, Heritage and the Arts.

Here’s one with all three of us together in the harsh glare of the sun, as taken by photographer Tanja Plibersek (Minister for Housing and the Status of Women):

turning the sod on the new mca building

I had just enough time during the taking of the photo to tell Signor Garrett about my Environmental Audit project in 25-words-or-less. He said “Oh that sounds very interesting, I’d like to hear more about it”, but of course there wasn’t time. Nor was there time for me to ask any more of those hard-hitting questions I know all my eco-warrior pals want answered (their fists hitting the table in frustration at what they see as the Environment Minister’s disappointing parliamentary performance since being elected).

I note that the sod-turning event (but not, alas his meeting with me) rates a mention in Peter Garrett’s own Twitter Feed.

Here are some more shots from the event. I quite like this one, as Garrett’s cheeky grin makes him look a bit like Hugh Laurie:

turning the sod on the new mca building

And in this shot, Simon Mordant (whose sizable donation has in great part made the new building extension possible) stands like a proud and benevolent nineteenth-century industrialist on this land poised for dramatic transformation:

turning the sod on the new mca building

2 Responses to “Turning the Sod”
  1. Ian Milliss says:

    One day Lucas when you are Minister for the Arts you’ll reflect on this day, how it all began with an innocent photo op….. and I wonder if Simon Mordant has read John Berger on that sort of pose – nonetheless it is an admirable thing he has done.

  2. Lucas says:

    O Ian, don’t wish that on me, of all things!

    (Although I do like the idea of merging the ‘portfolios’ of art, insulation and thermal mass optimisation, keyline ploughing and suchlike.

    Remind me to lend you Gianfranco Baruchello‘s book How to Imagine.)

    re: Simon’s heroic photo …yes, it’s A Great Pose, innit?

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