The best public art in Sydney
Public art – in any city – is a notoriously fraught business. No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, every work will have its detractors. Some more than others, of course. Notable spats in Sydney’s public art history include the time residents threatened to dismantle Ken Unsworth’s ‘poo on sticks’ sculpture in Darlinghurst (it still stands); the time NSW Parliamentarian Helen Sham-Ho said Lin Li’s ‘Golden Water Mouth’ sculpture in Chinatown “looks like a penis”; and the time Oz editor Richard Neville ran a cover photo of himself and two others peeing into Tom Bass’s P&O Wall Fountain. That said, who could possibly argue for a city without public art? It’s (mostly) good for the eyes, good for the soul, and improves even the most uninviting locations. It’s also good for business, which has been part of the drive in Sydney over the last decade to revitalise laneways and commercial precincts with commissions from contemporary artists, architects and designers. In 2007, the City of Sydney appointed their first Public Art Advisory Panel – a mix of artists, curators and architects that currently includes Carriageworks director Lisa Havilah and installation artist Janet Laurence. Now you know who to thank/complain to. Since it’s Art Month in Sydney, we thought we’d share some of our favourite public art works in Sydney.
Your guide to contemporary, fine and Indigenous art in Sydney
The best places to see art in Sydney
Sydney is busting at the seams with great art – from major institutions like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, to incredible privately-owned but publically accessible (and free!) galleries like White Rabbit and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, and right down to a thriving scene of independent and artist-run initiatives. Below are some of our favourites.
Upcoming events and exhibitions
The Museum of Contemporary Art's monthly party series is curated by a different artist or collective each edition, and features art, performance and design – with killer views, party tunes and hands-on activities with artists. Since Artbar kicked off in May 2012, we’ve seen the MCA's galleries graced with nude performance art, endurance table tennis, house party-style karaoke, vomit montages, huge inflatables and a live goat. Ah, artists. Never change. The parties tend to sell out in advance, so consider pre-purchasing those tickets. Click through the Dates & Times tab for the line-up for each edition of Artbar.
The National Art School are staying up late with a series of free after hours events that bring together art, a pop up Cake Wines bar and tunes in the atmospheric surrounds of the old Darlinghurst gaol. The next NAS Nights event is April 6, in conjunction with the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize exhibition at NAS Gallery. Click the Dates & Times tab to see what's on the menu. Like a night pARTy? Here's our hit list of places to get your fix of art after dark in Sydney.
Pipilotti Rist's four-wall video aquarium 'Mercy Garden Retour Skin' at the MCA was one of our favourite works in the 2014 Biennale of Sydney. The artist will be back in the building come October 2017, for a major survey of her work spanning from the late 1980s to now, curated by the MCA's Natasha Bullock. Among the works show, we're hoping that her 1997 work 'Ever Is Over All' – reportedly an inspiration for Beyoncé's 'Hold Up' clip from Lemonade – makes an appearance. This exhibition is part of the Sydney International Art Series, which within the last two years has brought Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry to the MCA, and the forthcoming Tatsuo Miyajima exhibition. See who's at the AGNSW in summer 2017.
News and interviews
Five reasons you should head to Hobart's Dark Mofo festival this winter
Now in its fifth year, Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival has a reputation for programming the dark, demented and esoteric with huge success. The secret seems be partly the niche-ness itself, and partly the fact that they make sure there’s enough free and accessible art and performance to create a genuine sense of festivity across the whole city for two weeks in June. There’s a Nude Solstice Swim, light and sound installations that take place across the harbour and foreshore (this year’s sonic intervention is Siren Song by Melbourne sound engineer Byron J Scullin and the Supple Fox collective), a public art park (Dark Park), and an outdoor market (Winter Feast) that serves up street food with a local focus, alongside performance and music – and lots of outdoor fire. Dark Mofo Nude Solstice Swim 2016 Photograph: Rosie Hastie If you haven’t experienced the dark arts yet, here are 5 reasons to go this year in particular. CONTENT WARNING: the image for #5 may be distressing to herbivores and people who feel queasy about blood. 1. Mogwai The Scottish post-rockers are headlining the music offering – so even if you’re not a metal/noise/drone fan (and if you are, boy are you covered by this festival) you can get into an appropriately ritualistic mindset via one of their wall-of-sound sets. 2. A 200km theremin pilgrimage. Billed as a “200km theremin pilgrimage from church to church”, Crossing is a progressive performance that will take viewers from Launceston’s Pil
Ai Weiwei is presenting a major new artwork in Sydney
The Biennale of Sydney has revealed the first 21 artists taking part in the 21st edition of the city-wide festival (taking place in 2018) – and the biggest news is that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be presenting a new work commissioned by the Biennale. It's not entirely unexpected (in fact we predicted it) given that artistic director Mami Kataoka curated the major survey Ai Weiwei: According to What? for Mori Art Museum in 2009, which subsequently toured North America. This will be the second Biennale of Sydney for Weiwei, who presented the work 'World Map' in 2006. The artist was most recently in Australia for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria's major exhibition Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei. The 21st Biennale of Sydney's line-up, which is expected to swell to around 70 artists, will also feature major international names Laurent Grasso, Haegue Yang and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and Australian artists Brook Andrew, George Tjungurrayi, Yasmin Smith and Koji Ryui. (Scroll down for the full list of artists). L-R: Brook Andrew, Yasmin Smith, Hoy Cheong Wong, Koji Ryui, Mami Kataoka, NS Harsha and Rika Noguchi Photograph: Anna Kucera The 2018 Biennale of Sydney will not focus on a single topic or theme, but take a more responsive approach to what artists are interested in, and (in Kataoka's words) "suggest multi-layered perspectives of the world and its histories simultaneously." The 21 currently confirmed artists for the Biennale of Sydney are: Eija-Liisa
52 Weeks of #SydCulture: Week 14
Welcome to the 13th guest blog post of Time Out Sydney's 52 Weeks of #SydCulture 2017 challenge! April's culture selector is Roslyn Helper: director of Underbelly Arts Festival, artist (solo and as part of Zin), and former artistic director of Electrofringe. Every Wednesday of April, Roslyn will be telling us what she loved the week before. Think of it as your recommendations for this week, from someone who sees a helluva lot of arts and culture. Over to her. Last Sunday afternoon I attended Desire Lines, the third and final of a series of Sunday afternoon Ultimo ‘art walks’ curated by Maeve Parker and Sebastian Henry-Jones. As they have so beautifully described, “To travel along a Desire Line is to engender an alternate direction of behaviour or thought. Desire Lines traverse both physical and cognitive space, and so to step differently is also to think in new ways. A Desire Line is the hole in the fence, the absent-minded turn, the shortcut home.” It started with a shy group, a combination of 20-something art hipsters ironically wearing sports caps, socks and sandals, and parent-aged inner-westies rocking cargo shorts, gathered on a eucalyptus-scented Ultimo street corner under the collective but unspoken assumption that we were all there for the same reason. We got our names marked off a roll by a friendly guide named Joel, who gave each person a fortune cookie (“Life is not a mystery to be solved, but a reality to be experienced”) and then conducted an acknowledgement o
Sydney's endangered nightlife is the biggest threat to our arts scene
In her final guest blog as part of Time Out Sydney's 52 Weeks of #SydCulture campaign, curator and City of Sydney councillor Jess Scully draws a line between a city's nightlife and its arts life, and advocates for the hybrid spaces and after-dark hives of creativity that are currently an endangered species. What's the connection between culture and nightlife? Can you have a great creative life in a city that dozes after dusk? Sure, there are art capitals without a banging nightlife – unless I am missing something major about Basel in Switzerland, home of Art Basel, or the sleepy German town of Kassel, which is transformed into an art Mecca every five years during Documenta – but they are the exception, not the rule. Basel and Kassel and their respective art fairs/festivals are places where art is exhibited and traded, not created. They’re the end of the creative food chain, not the beginning. If we look to the cultural hives of the Western world, however, we see a pattern: in Berlin, Berghain and clubs in general are part of one ecosystem with the studios and art spaces; likewise, the bars and venues of Bushwick feed Brooklyn’s creative community. In these ‘cultural capitals’, after dark watering holes and party playgrounds are not optional extras, they’re at the foundation – places where artists and creative thinkers work, meet, test out ideas and invent the new. If we want Sydney to be a place that generates new thinking, we need to champion places where people can let
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Stockroom Restaurant and Stillery Cocktail Bar
Surrounded by the retail and tree-lined streets of Double Bay is the InterContinental hotel, a charming destination whose marble and gold interiors house a restaurant and cocktail lounge that any passer-by can experience. Enter the hotel via the regal, winding marble staircase and try the gin-focused menu at the sophisticated Stillery lounge. Or sidle into Stockroom Restaurant for a seasonally-inspired menu utilising the best of local produce, and a casual atmosphere. With more than 100 varieties of rare, vintage and limited-edition gin and an innovative menu of aromatic G&Ts, Stillery is your place to start. Each of their unique G&Ts is elaborately garnished with botanicals matched to the base gin's flavour profile. A Gin Mare, for example, is a savoury Mediterranean sipper that arrives crowned by ripe basil leaves, rosemary twigs and a juicy cherry tomato with fever tree tonic, adding botanical-enhancing flavour and aromas. You can settle in here with a long list of gin cocktails and accompanying tasting plates or head to the adjoining dining room for more. Stockroom Restaurant is offering a three-course menu paired with a Stillery G&T for $69 per person this autumn. Stockroom Restaurant’s Executive Chef, Alex Vilches, has designed the menu to pair nicely with the flavours of gin. Dishes are made with floral elements in mind, like the glistening kingfish carpaccio which arrives dotted with crunchy black sesame and delicate edible flower petals, the fresh and light bites
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Sculpture at Scenic World
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