Comparing our Politicians to the Cartier Exhibit in Canberra

WORDS BY BIANKA FARMAKIS

Our nation’s capital Canberra has a few things to offer. There’s Questacon, three or four overpriced (but great) brunch places, and wide open streets that never have traffic because every ANU student rides their bike around anyway.
 
And while it’d be more interesting to detail a minute-by-minute breakdown of an end of semester, token trip to Mooseheads, in the interest of doing something cultured, I went to the Cartier exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia.
 
Much like our federal politicians, there were hundreds of shining old white stones, on display in a dark room, with plenty of disappointment. Unless you’re otherwise already in Canberra, it’s not a ‘must see’ exhibition. Showcasing over 300 of the most precious jewellery pieces loaned from prominent figures around the world, at this point in the year, I think the room of sparkling tiaras and diamond-studded broaches were just a cruel reminder that my arts degree would never bring me a salary high enough to afford anything on display.
 
So, to spare you the 7-hour round-trip drive, here’s a glimpse of the pieces on display at the Australia: the Cartier Exhibit, and the politicians they best represent.

TONY ABBOTT

‘Cartier is about style…’ was the curatorial headline, so this was already difficult. I guess one of the jewel encrusted reptiles would work. There’s just this striking similarity between an emerald crocodile paperweight and our former Prime Minister.

 Crocodile neckle, 1975.

Crocodile neckle, 1975.

BILL SHORTEN

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There were no pieces that screamed ‘save Medicare’ in the exhibit, so I was a bit stumped by this one. Shorten may have best been resembled by the Jaguar clutching a 152.35 carat sapphire globe? It looks like it’s saying a lot on behalf of the blue collar worker, but really it’s just frozen in a silent yelling position.

 Panther clip brooch, 1949.

Panther clip brooch, 1949.

BARNABY JOYCE

Though his wife is under the impression God can save their marriage, maybe Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond and ruby necklace (a gift from her third husband, Mike Todd) might work better. It also doubles as a tiara for the other woman in his life. Or, you know, he could follow this exhibit’s example and get out of Canberra by mid-July.

 Necklace, 1951 / 1953.

Necklace, 1951 / 1953.

JULIA GILLARD

Our first female Prime Minister was like one of the ruby-encrusted pieces on display: incredible, but received very little recognition in the grand scheme of the white-diamond (or silver fox) dominated exhibit. Life imitates art, and in this case, fashion predicted Australian politics.

 Necklace, bracelet and pari of earrings,1951.

Necklace, bracelet and pari of earrings,1951.

ANTHONY ALBANESE

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Albanese does love the gays, so the rainbow jewel encrusted, art-deco ‘Tutti-Frutti’ necklace seemed like the appropriate comparison to make.

 Tutti Frutti strap bracelet, 1929.

Tutti Frutti strap bracelet, 1929.

MALCOLM TURNBULL

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Much like Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, Turnbull loves the Queen, gets upstaged constantly by others, and hasn’t really done anything. He is the Queen’s “Halo” tiara sported by Kate at her wedding to Prince William, which, though will go down in history, will never be as famous as her sister Pippa’s rear end.

 Halo Tiara, 1936

Halo Tiara, 1936

The exhibit is on display until 22nd July, if you’re in Canberra already, it’s worth going as one of the only things you probably could do. Plus, it’s classy enough to balance out that Goulburn Macca’s pit stop on the way home.

Pulp Editors