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MAKING NEWS: Rising tide of anger over State Library Nazi attack on Kennett

sunhsun The Sunday Herald Sun, Victoria’s most popular newspaper, has embraced and extended the VEXNEWS story on the shameful State Library of Victoria Nazi art attack on former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

Our story from earlier this week is here.

The piece was made in the mid 90s yet not purchased by the SLV until 2000, months after Kennett’s surprising defeat in the 1999 election.

The Sunday’s James Campbell managed to extract possibly career-ending statements from the SLV’s spin-doctor who denied the swastikas were swastikas and attacked one of his colleagues who runs the Library’s Collections saying he wasn’t qualified to comment on the art. (He’d described the swastikas as swastikas).

Matthew Van Hasselt comments were not unreasonably described as “bizarre” by the Sunday Herald Sun. In a spin, the poor dude said they weren’t swastikas, they could have been anything, perhaps cacti:

But the State Library hit back, with spokesman Matthew Van Hasselt bizarrely saying there was no evidence the artist meant the trees to be swastikas – even though the exhibition’s program notes said the trees are “shaped into swastikas”.

“People are free to interpret it any way they like,” he said. “They could just be cacti.”

matthew van hasselt fool Certainly van Hasselt’s colleagues might think him something of a cactus prick after slamming the head of Collections:

Mr Van Hasselt also took a swipe at Shane Carmody, the library’s director of access and collections, who wrote the program notes.

“He’s explaining the work as he sees it, but I don’t think he’s qualified to speak to the artist’s intention,” he said.

Carmody is in charge of the cataloguing and classifying of everything in the Library so you’d think he’s probably one of the best qualified people in Victoria to “comment on the artist’s intention”. His duties include:

  • the State Collection
  • information services and resources
  • acquisitions, digitisation and cataloguing
  • collection conservation
  • storage, retrieval and reformatting
  • exhibitions and events.

That’s just his job. He buys and classifies everything that is in the Library, no doubt with plenty of left-wing librarian staff to assist him. Laura Bush was the exception who proves rule about librarian being lefties, some have said. What about the “unqualified” chap’s academic qualifications?

Shane has an honours degree in History from the University of Melbourne with a second major in Fine Arts and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in History and Historical Urban Geography. Shane undertook his studies in Toronto as a Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholar.

Oops. Looks reasonably well qualified with his Fine Arts major and multiple Arts degrees to spot the difference between a swastika and a cactus.

It’s perhaps the SLV’s spin doctor who might not be up to his job. Not exactly Alistair Campbell is he?

Back to the artiste, whose swastikas have rightly caused considerable outrage, he is clearly a shock jock with a paint-brush and a pot of taxpayer gold from the adopted nation he seems to hate so much.

In this work, Davilia presents famed Aussie explorers Burke & Wills as gay outback lovers “Burke and Willis” with an image we’d best not describe in case we “misunderstand the artist’s intention.”


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  1. I’m still increadulous that we give artists any time, let alone money at all. Good art appears to be lost in the political posturings of the weird.

    Why we spend taxpayers money on some of the crap that proceeds from the brushes of barely sane douchebags beats me.

    I had an argument with an artist once (who actually was quite talented) about why the taxpayer should support a chosen “career” that earns no money. If I want to take up a hobby, I have to self fund. So should artists.

    Posted by parasites | May 3, 2009, 13:30
  2. Andy, a bit of credit from James Campbell to yourself would’t have hurt as it appeared he lifted it straight off your website three days after you ran it.

    Posted by Anon | May 3, 2009, 14:46
  3. Mr LENDERS — Similarly, a majority in the Reichstag in the 1930s made a decision after a fifth of the deputies had been arrested, and that did not make it right either…. I am using historical fact: a majority does not make it right.

    Posted by c u on the tram | May 3, 2009, 16:03
  4. […] The Sunday Herald Sun, Victoria’s most popular newspaper, has embraced and extended the VEXNEWS story on the shameful State Library of Victoria Nazi art attack on former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett. vexnews.com […]

    Posted by The Australian Conservative » Blog Archive » Fury at Nazi insult to Kennett | May 3, 2009, 17:04
  5. Kennett was the close to a Nazi and he deserves it, he is filthy lowlife scum.

    Posted by anon | May 3, 2009, 17:59
  6. Vexnews is clearly Australia’a most authoritative news site. Days before the Herald Sun. Congratulations Andrew.

    Posted by Anonymous | May 3, 2009, 21:34
  7. Kennett is not a Nazi. The State Library ought to have more brains than that.

    Posted by Anonymous | May 3, 2009, 21:35
  8. Why are Kikes so thin skinned? Why do their think they are a protected species?

    Posted by WW2 was a long time ago | May 4, 2009, 0:51
  9. Honeys…

    To trivialise such a massive series of Nazi crimes against humanity with purile comparisons to an Australian politician is just wrong.

    I understand the Jewish community objection to making light of such a profound tragedy with an innappropriate association with JGK- seriously.

    This piece of ill conceived political propaganda should be allowed to be displayed in any place or any gallery – as long as taxpayers are not required to pay for it!

    I believe strongly in artistic freedom – and also the freedom to produce political propaganda – but all taxpayers should not be forced to fund it, if it falls into the latter category.

    Posted by Natasha The Despoiler | May 4, 2009, 3:35
  10. Posted by Dr Vladimir Squeaky (Siberian Medical Clinic) | May 4, 2009, 10:26
  11. I’m with Tash. Gay hippies can paint whatever they like – provided they get no public funding.

    As para said earlier, if you want a hobby, fund it yourself.

    Although, I am about to start to home brew. Public Grants would be sensational for getting pissed and kev’s punters paying for it.

    Posted by barking toad | May 4, 2009, 11:37
  12. This is the only way a second rate so called artist can get coverage.I dare him to portray keating or hawke in a similar way as they have the same qualities as Kennett.

    Posted by jack | May 4, 2009, 12:01
  13. Did someone say GAY hippies

    Posted by Dean Mighell | May 4, 2009, 12:33
  14. Please txt me gay hippy.

    Posted by Dean Mighell | May 4, 2009, 17:04
  15. Why are Kikes so thin skinned? Why do their [sic] think they are a protected species?

    Is there a correlation between antisemitism, and illiteracy?

    I wonder if I could get an Arts grant to conduct the research.

    Posted by Daniel Lewis | May 4, 2009, 21:53
  16. Actually honey… racist bigots always disguise a very sub standard education.

    C’mon honeys… this racist crap is really boring.

    Recognise the truth and vote:


    Posted by Natasha The Despoiler | May 5, 2009, 2:19
  17. Nice attempt at character assassination. Did you write your first paragraph and realise you didn’t have a new angle on this story?

    This article is more about your personal attack on a State Library of Victoria staff member than on the “State Library Nazi attack on Kennett”. So a HUN journo “managed to extract” some comments he could take out of context? That’s hardly exciting or newsworthy is it? Yet you thought it would make for a tasty article attacking a person you don’t even know and suggesting he “might not be up to his job”. The very fact that you and the public know about this artwork being exhibited, and that it is being discussed by the Library in an open and frank manner, is proof that the State Library media person is doing their job admirably.

    Posted by Jon | May 5, 2009, 10:50
  18. “Taken out of context” an oldie but a goody, borrowed from Sheik Hilaly the last time he said women were uncovered meat.

    It’s not character assassination to say the tosser Matthew Van Hasselt did a poor job of defending the Library. He did a very poor job.

    Best defence would have been an artistic freedom line with a twist people should come along and look at the work and let us know what they think of it, we haven’t got a complaint from anyone yet, etc.

    Not a hard job the lad has but he seems not really up to it or that’s what most of us were saying yesterday morning.

    His quotes made a small story into a page 3 debacle.

    Posted by SLV stacks | May 5, 2009, 12:09
  19. My IQ is 42, that means I have a moderate mental disability.

    Posted by Daniel Lewis | May 6, 2009, 0:11
  20. i am more than happy to help out with the liquidation of the State Library. Kindly deposit $8.2 million in my bank account; that will sit nicely to ther other $8.2 million c/o Melbourne University Student Union. Good money winding up ‘broke’ companies! :)

    Posted by Dean McVeigh | May 6, 2009, 8:45
  21. where’s the story on brimbank?

    Posted by Astounded of Melbourne | May 7, 2009, 17:35