Mudgee town has been described as ‘very civilised’ by a cultural historian, visiting from the United Kingdom.
Lecturer, Anthony Russell recently visited the region to kick off the 2017 Mudgee program from the Australian Decorative and Fine Art Society.
Mr Russell is traveling between Sydney and Cairns presenting a lecture on the historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.
The talk focused on the story of the construction of the Palace with a background of excess and outrage.
“It is close to my heart because I love the building and it feels like a guilty pleasure because it’s completely over the top. Baroque craziness. Built really to celebrate the great military victory, so it’s pure propaganda,” he said.
“It is very beautiful and people adore it. It’s a very major tourism attraction, world heritage site, and it’s on the great circle of people leaving London, who then go to Oxford maybe, Blenheim Palace, Cambridge.
“Blenheim Palace is a beautiful palace with interesting history, for me the important thing is what it says about our culture, who we are and by contrast Australia.”
Mr Russell spent time wandering around Mudgee town admiring the buildings and streetscape.
“You’re a hybrid, because you’ve got that English residual stuff, difficult to cast off, but then you’ve got everything that makes you Australian. So for me, that’s fascinating.
“When I come to Australia, you can judge civilisation by how old your buildings are or where you have an empire. That is the old fashion way of defining it but I’d like to redefine it as ‘What is civil?’. So I come to Mudgee and I find a place where the traffic doesn’t dominate, where there are beautiful cafes, where people can sit out, where people talk to each other – whole ways you can categorise civil behaviour – which is surely how we should be talking about civilisation – and then somewhere like this, looks very civilised.
“At the end [of the seminar] I have two quotes, one is from Prince Charles, who said “heritage and culture is so important because it defines who we are and where we’ve come from” and I think that resonates with Australia. For white people and for aboriginals - the history, the background – but I’m also saying be careful because you need to make that background work for yourself.