I return to the Botanic Gardens early in the morning to check out the Tanks Arts Centre. Three World War 2 naval oil storage tanks have been converted into an arts precinct for exhibitions and performance. My beautifier said they were a must-see and she was right. To enter the precinct, I pass through an immense gate beside a wall of gargoylish mosaic, some of it overwritten by twining roots. Each tank is also magnificently gated. Even the bare outside of Tank 1has a rough beauty, that beauty that comes so mysteriously from dilapidation
To enter the gallery I cross a small bridge over a pool reflecting a circle of ferns. The inside space is vast: partitions to normal ceiling height create a series of pale-walled galleries and the office is a curved module plonked off centre. Some of the paintings are hung dramatically on the curved inner wall of the tank at eye level, amongst signs of industrial wear and tar and streaks of black grease. A huge rusting pipe remains, angling its way up beside a ladder.
I'm so taken with the tank that the artworks take second place. They are all by local artists. A collage portrait of grandfather and grandson captures a wonderful tenderness. There are images of coral, cassowaries and rainforest and a basket woven from sea-rope and flotsam-jetsam. But it's the venue that holds my attention.
When I tell my niece I spent the morning amongst gas tanks, she looks at me pityingly and mocks me unmercifully. Little does she know the many pleasures gas tanks provide.