Art Gallery

toowoomba map

Toowoomba is, according to the census,
A city, but by consensus
Among the locals, just a pleasant country town,
And yet the mountains, running up the coast
Like a Great Barrier Reef thrust high on land,
Would have you understand
Toowoomba has the right to boast
Itself to be the gateway to the Darling Downs.

The mountains then must have the final word:
This city or, if preferred,
This town, is destined to be some place rather grand,
Not just a town where returned soldiers place
Another monument to distant wars,
Or somewhere travellers pause
For petrol and a bite in case
No other town soon peeps out from the hinterland,

But a successful town where you might see
Some kind of art gallery.
I saw it when I had repairs done to the car
And, having time to spare, I sauntered in
Just out of curiosity, that’s all.
It’s by the City Hall
Right in the centre of the town
Where anything you really needed isn’t far.

There is a souvenire shop just inside
And a nice lady, a guide,
Who answers questions or just greets you with a smile
And leaves you then to make your way around.
The first rooms I explored were full of stuff
By high school kids, enough
To make me think I might have found
Some other sort of place nearby more worth my while.

Across the hall, in glass display cases,
Jewelry (not such as graces
Stylish attire but such as no-one ever wears,
Made out of bits and pieces ‘artists’ scrounged
From anywhere at all) was placed to seem
Like comments on a theme.
Intrigued but unimpressed, I lounged
And looked around to kill more time then went upstairs.

Here I would find real art, I had supposed,
But ropes announced it closed,
A tradesman on a ladder working with some Streeton
And some McCubbin oils his audience.
Two rooms stayed open: nineteenth century
Bric-a-brac handed free
To the town by men of some eminence
Long ago. There I felt like gold too thinly beaten.

Downstairs, I saw the jewelry anew,
Not something done but to do,
Not ornaments constructed from just anything
But rather people living for their art,
Sorting through cast-off plastic, thrown-out tin
For somewhere to begin
Mending lives long since torn apart,
Creating out of junk the heart’s awakening.

The school-kid stuff now took me by surprise
With its unself-conscious cries
For help or for attention, everything laid bare,
The sea of youth under a bright horizon
Stirring with such intrinsic drama I
Saw myself passing by
With all our generations always rising
And falling, each the ruin each one must repair.

And then I thought, had I youth’s energy,
Demanding to remain free,
Pent up within me, I would wear a paper crown
As if it were a real one made of gold.
Toowoomba then would be my Camelot
From where I would allot
To all good folks in this wide world
The glory of a city, the kindness of a town.



Wikipedians are like a small town with the vices of a big city, whereas I live near a small city with many of the virtues of a big town. Wikipedians talk about ‘community’ as if they know what it means but their vices contradict them.


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