Edi­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Feature - Tim Dou­glas

When Aus­tralian run­ner Sally Pear­son lines up to­day at the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don for the fi­nal of the 110m hur­dles, the Olympic gold medal­list may reach for the five-ringed tat­too on her back and chan­nel the greats who have gone be­fore her. Might she spare a thought for the leg­endary Betty Cuth­bert, who died this week, aged 79? Per­haps she’ll look to the im­mense sport­ing deeds of Usain Bolt. Or maybe, just maybe, she’ll look fur­ther back, to an age when the Olympics re­ally meant some­thing: when it awarded gold medals for the arts. This month marks the 105th an­niver­sary of the in­tro­duc­tion at the 1912 Stock­holm Games of gold medal events in the fields of ar­chi­tec­ture, lit­er­a­ture, mu­sic, paint­ing and sculp­ture. Be­tween that year and 1952, more than 150 Olympic medals were awarded to orig­i­nal works by artists from around the world. Pierre de Cou­bertin, who founded the mod­ern Games and the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, de­creed cul­ture be recog­nised along­side ath­let­ics in the pur­suit of unit­ing “mus­cle and the mind”. The artis­tic cat­e­gories were scrapped in 1952 and side­lined as an ex­hi­bi­tion — the “cul­tural Olympiad”. Surely, as our age­ing Olympic team con­tem­plates its fu­ture amid pal­try medal counts at the past two Games, the time is right to bring the arts back into the fold. Who wouldn’t want to see Richard Flana­gan, Si­mone Young (see our story on Page 4), Les Mur­ray or Archibald Prize win­ner Mitch Cairns (with apolo­gies to John Olsen) step­ping up to the podium to ac­cept Olympic gold for Aus­tralia? I’ve got shiv­ers think­ing about it. Pear­son could do worse for in­spi­ra­tion. Iain Shed­den’s fas­ci­nat­ing chat to­day with Paul Kelly (pages 8-9) re­veals a singer at the height of his tal­ents. Surely no one has con­trib­uted so much to the Aus­tralian song­book. Once you’ve fin­ished with the pa­per edi­tion, skip over to Re­view on­line to view a video of Kelly record­ing Fire­wood and Can­dles from LP Life is Fine. It is some­thing to be­hold. Colour and move­ment will be in high sup­ply this week at the In­dian Film Fes­ti­val in Mel­bourne. Bol­ly­wood, the world’s big­gest film in­dus­try, is one of the fastest grow­ing cin­e­matic trends in Aus­tralia, and the IFF’s line-up is a tes­ta­ment to its pop­u­lar­ity be­yond the sub­con­ti­nent. To­day Aish­warya Rai Bachchan — screen star, UNESCO am­bas­sador and for­mer Miss World — will hoist the flag for In­dian In­de­pen­dence Day over Fed­er­a­tion Square. With more than 60 films be­ing shown dur­ing the next 10 days, it’s cer­tainly worth a look.

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