Monday, 16 July 2012

Bendigo and the fair Grace

I'd never really thought of going to Bendigo before. It is close enough to Melbourne (2-3 hours) to be not a true holiday destination, but far enough away to be somewhere you don't just drop by. But when the Grace Kelly exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum was held here, rather than one of our own Melbourne galleries, I decided it was worth paying Bendigo a visit.

The three of us caught a country train for this adventure, discovering such new outer suburbs of Melbourne as Watergardens, and some quaint little towns like Riddells Creek and Malmsbury. The train station in Malmsbury was gorgeous, a really old bluestone building that has been well maintained.

Bendigo was a goldmining town and the wealth is evident everywhere in the grand nineteenth century buildings - the town hall, the old shopfronts, and a remarkable fountain in the middle of a roundabout.

Chancery Lane was a wonderful find, tucked away between two main streets in the centre of Bendigo. Full of street art, quirky cafes and a couple of funky clothing stores, you could almost imagine you were back in Melbourne... even in Northcote perhaps!

The Bendigo Art Gallery is housed in another lovely old building, although I confess I didn't look at the building very much. I was looking more at the Grace Kelly exhibition. Despite the crowds (300 people passed through the exhibition every hour) I was entranced by the collection of gowns, coats, hats, gloves and shoes of this most elegant icon. As one person, who had seen the exhibition already, told me, it was amazing how the plainest dress would look quite exquisite on Grace Kelly.

Since the exhibition I've become quite interested in fifties fashion, particularly the shape and cut of the dresses. Often high-necked and long-skirted, these haven't quite captured the imagination of current fashion, but it is remarkable how elegant they are and how flattering they can be!

I have since purchased the V&A exhibition catalogue, to enjoy those outfits all over again...

All in all, a very pleasant trip to the country!

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