Art

Art in Sydney on now

Must-see art in September
Art

Must-see art in September

From major installations at big institutions to genre-defying shows at smaller galleries, here's everything on our hit-list.

Where to see art at night
Art

Where to see art at night

Everyone knows that it’s after hours that Sydney’s art galleries really get down to business.

The best public art in Sydney
Art

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.

Six must-see works at Biennale of Sydney
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Six must-see works at Biennale of Sydney

Mami Kataoka, artistic director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney, enjoys participatory art as much as anyone. 

Art exhibitions to see in Sydney

Your guide to contemporary, fine and Indigenous art in Sydney

The best places to see art in Sydney
Art

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.

The best ARIs in Sydney
Art

The best ARIs in Sydney

If you're after emerging and experimental art, here are ten key artist-run initiatives (ARIs) to get you started.

Cutting edge commercial galleries
Art

Cutting edge commercial galleries

You don't have to be a buyer to browse these top commercial art galleries in Sydney.

Where to see Aboriginal art
Art

Where to see Aboriginal art

Whether you're visiting from overseas or a curious local looking to get beyond the basics, here's where to start.

Upcoming events and exhibitions

Masterpieces by Monet, Picasso and Matisse are coming to Sydney
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Masterpieces by Monet, Picasso and Matisse are coming to Sydney

The Art Gallery of NSW's Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age attracted 130,000 people last summer, showcasing works from the 17th century held by Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. For next summer (2018-19), the AGNSW is travelling east and skipping forward a few centuries with 65 paintings from St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum. There are more than 3 million items held in the Hermitage – and most aren't on permanent display – so picking works for a single exhibition is a bit of a tough ask. But this exhibition, called Modern masters from the Hermitage (October 13 to March 3 2019), focuses on works from the late 19th century and the early 20th century, showing the evolution from impressionism to modernism. And we're not getting dusty and forgotten works from the gallery's store spaces: almost all are currently on display at the Hermitage. (AGNSW director Michael Brand says you might want to delay any trip you may have planned to St Petersburg from October through March if you're wanting to see modern art – many of the Hermitage's best works will be in Sydney.)   Pablo Picasso 'Woman with a fan' 1908 Image courtesy the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg         There are eight works by Picasso, including his 'Woman with a fan', and eight by Matisse. There's also work from Monet, Cézanne, Kandinsky and Gauguin, and one of Russian artist Malevich's highly influential 'Black square' paintings. The exhibition will have a strong focus on French art from the 1910s, when Russian

The Museum of Contemporary Art has revealed its next summer blockbuster
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The Museum of Contemporary Art has revealed its next summer blockbuster

The Museum of Contemporary Art has just closed the doors on one of its most successful exhibitions ever, Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean. The blockbuster show, featuring large-scale light, video works and installations, was a veritable explosion of colour and became a social media sensation over the summer, with 110,000 people visiting and Instagramming their way through.  But for next year's big summer exhibition, the MCA is changing directions drastically and presenting an exhibition of mostly black-and-white photos by South African photographer David Goldblatt.      David Goldblatt, Young men with dompas (an identity document that every African had to carry), White City, Jabavu, Soweto (2_13545) 1972.                         If you're not part of the visual arts or photography worlds, you probably won't have heard of Goldblatt, whose images have traced the changing face of South Africa from the start of apartheid at the end of the 1940s through to 1991, when it was dismantled. But MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor says most hadn't heard of Pipilotti Rist before her exhibition, the MCA's contribution to this summer's Sydney International Art Series, which had previously had exhibitions from heavyweights like Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry. Macgregor describes the Rist exhibition as a big risk that paid off. "We really were a little concerned about it," she says. "It's not a name with a wide resonance outside of the art world – but how wrong

One of the biggest art installations ever seen in Sydney is coming to Carriageworks
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One of the biggest art installations ever seen in Sydney is coming to Carriageworks

American artist Nick Cave – not to be confused with the Australian singer-songwriter – is bringing 16,000 wind spinners, 24 chandeliers, 10 miles of crystals, thousands of ceramic birds and one crocodile to Sydney. Cave’s Until is a mammoth new installation work coming to Carriageworks from November 23 2018. It will be open until March 2019, so you’ve got plenty of time to explore every nook and cranny of this extraordinarily detailed, opulent, kitschy world. Cave is best known for his ‘soundsuits’: brightly colourful, full-body costumes covered in noise-making materials made of everything from dyed human hair to plastic buttons. He made his first soundsuit in 1992, as a response to the Rodney King bashing, and in late 2016 brought a herd of horse-shaped soundsuits to Carriageworks for a memorable performance parade. While the soundsuits aren’t the focus of Until (although one has crept in), a visit to the installation is a little like stepping inside the belly of Cave’s creations. Thousands of small found objects have been pulled together to create three major spaces full of surprising colours and textures. At the centre of this all is a huge hanging crystal cloud, topped with a beautiful “private garden”. You can climb one of four ladders for a peek into this secret world, complete with its own crocodile, golden gilded pigs and blackface lawn jockeys.   Nick Cave, Until Photograph: James Prinz     If those jockeys seem like an unusual addition, there’s a stron

News and interviews

Meet the Archibald Prize's new head packer
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Meet the Archibald Prize's new head packer

Everybody's an art critic when it comes to Archibald time. The annual $100,000 portrait prize brings out the often deeply hidden aesthetic expertise in all of us as we argue over which artist deserves Australia's favourite art prize. But one particular man's opinion has more significant weight: the Art Gallery of NSW's head packer, who awards the annual $1,500 Packing Room Prize. Technically the Gallery's staff who unpack and hang the various entries are responsible for picking the winner, but the head packer holds 51 per cent of the vote. If there's any disagreement among the staff, he gets final say in the prize that's both a high honour and a bit of a kiss of death: no winner of the Packing Room Prize has ever won the Archibald itself. Steve Peters has been the Archibald head packer for more than three decades and has awarded the Packing Room Prize since its inception in 1991, but this year Brett Cuthbertson has taken over the role. We asked Cuthbertson a few key questions to understand what he'll be looking for. What have you learnt from working alongside previous head packer, Steve Peters?To not take anyone or anything too seriously. That’s most important. To carefully listen to what people have to say – particularly about the Archibald – but stick to your own opinion. Steve was a great teacher. How did you become a packer in the first place?I’m actually an installation officer. I’m part of a team that physically hangs the artwork. But at Archibald time, it’s all Pac

Sydney's newest public artwork is a tiny treasure hunt
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Sydney's newest public artwork is a tiny treasure hunt

Public art has a tendency to be big and controversial, but Sydney's newest work is small and unlikely to stir much scandal. Superstar British artist Tracey Emin has created 67 handmade bronze birds and perched them on poles, above doorways and under benches along Bridge and Grosvenor Streets in the city centre. The birds only measure a few inches each – they're not based on any specific species, but they're about the size of a sparrow – and mightn't be immediately obvious. Enthusiastic bird watchers can take themselves on a treasure hunt, but some are quite well hidden and catching them all may prove impossible. At the centre of the bird trail is Macquarie Place Park, where a single bird sits on the edge of a bird bath emblazoned with the words 'The Distance of your Heart', the title of the work. The bird bath sits opposite the 'Obelisk of Distances', designed by Francis Greenway in 1818, which measures the distance to various locations in New South Wales. Emin's work is typically deeply personal – she's best known for her confessional pieces 'My Bed' and 'Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995' – and at first glance these bronze birds mightn't appear to have the same sense of intimacy. But Emin says the artwork should offer any visitor the chance to have their own moment of intimacy. She wants people to take photos of the birds – creatures of migration – and send them to loved ones, wherever they might be around the world. Photograph: Anna Kucera   "I really h

10 things you need to know about the tenth Vivid Sydney
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10 things you need to know about the tenth Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney has announced its program for the tenth annual festival, which has now grown to become the largest festival in Australia – attracting 250,000 overseas visitors to Sydney, specifically for the winter showcase of lights, music and ideas. Here are the ten things you need to know about this year’s event, which takes places from May 25 to June 16.   1. LOL, Ice Cube is coming to Sydney Opera House   Ice-effing-Cube at the House Photograph: Supplied   If you wanted to see Solange Knowles in one of her four exclusive performances for Vivid Live, you’re already too late. That ballot has bolted. However, in possibly the most surprising news, West Coast rapper and actor Ice Cube will be performing four shows at Sydney Opera House from May 25-28. If you want to see the NWA founding member, these four shows are your only chance in Australia this year. Also on the Vivid Live line-up: California’s psychedelic pop duo Mazzy Star, Cat Power – celebrating the 20th anniversary of album Moon Pix – and the Aussie debut of Daniel Johns and Luke Steele’s musical project, Dreams. 2. Trippy, Australian nature-inspired projections will light up the Opera House   'Metamathemagical' by Jonathan Zawada Artist impression: Jonathan Zawada   Australian artist and designer Jonathan Zawada is the man charged with creating the projections for Vivid’s most iconic site: the Sydney Opera House sails. He’s created a series of geometric sculptures that will mutate and reform in c

Discover the secret life of unicorns in these medieval tapestries showing in Sydney
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Discover the secret life of unicorns in these medieval tapestries showing in Sydney

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are almost as difficult to spot in the wild as the horned creature itself. Just installed in Sydney, this is only the third time the detailed, surprisingly playful medieval tapestries have travelled from their home at the Musée de Cluny in Paris. AGNSW curator Jackie Dunn describes the tapestries as feeling like a garden that, like any beautiful landscape, invite viewers to take a long, slow look and reflect on what they see. And she’s not the only one to find such depth and inspiration in the tapestries – Rainer Maria Rilke and Tracey Chevalier have written about them extensively, and art-loving video game designers and movie set dressers have been compelled to slip them into their own worlds for years (you might have caught sight of them in the Gryffindor common rooms). “I think one of the reasons that they’re considered to be so special is that we actually don’t know that much about them,” Dunn says. “We know that they were made at about 1500 on the dot, at the turn of the century. We know they were made by a wealthy lawyer-class family in France. But we don’t know exactly who made them and we don’t know why they were made. “And they’ve got this particular beauty. People seem very moved by the figure of the woman and the figure of the unicorn and the relationship that they appear to have in the tapestries.” The Lady and the Unicorn consists of six tapestries; the widest is four and a half metres long and the tallest stretches three

One of the most profound stories to be told at Sydney Festival will be of Barangaroo, the woman
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One of the most profound stories to be told at Sydney Festival will be of Barangaroo, the woman

Facing up to the consequences of our actions is not an easy thing to do, but it’s especially challenging when we only understand half the story. Artist-curator Emily McDaniel is asking us to confront the impact of European settlement on the environment and on history in an ambitious, amphibious new project at Barangaroo this summer. The name 'Four Thousand Fish' comes from a 1790 diary entry written by the founding lieutenant-governor, David Collins, who describes a haul of 4,000 ‘salmon’ from Sydney Harbour – a moment in history that simultaneously disrupted the ecosystem, created unnecessary waste and undermined the role of the Eora women who’d maintained fishing in these waters for thousands of years. “When the British invaded and colonised this place I believe they viewed it through their patriarchal lenses,” says McDaniel, a Wiradjuri woman from Liverpool. “In that moment they failed to recognise the resilience and strength of Aboriginal women in Sydney. They failed to recognise the important role Eora woman had to this place, as the providers for family.” The 29-year-old artist tells us that every day women would go out on Warrane (Sydney Harbour) in their nawi – bark canoes with a clay pit fire in the middle. “They might have two kids; breastfeeding one, fishing with the other, on that insanely choppy harbour we know so well.” To retell the lost stories of Barangaroo and the fisherwomen, McDaniel has worked with a team of artists to create a floating pontoon, a s

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Just for Laughs

Just for Laughs

Now in its eighth year, Just For Laughs has become a comedy fixture for Sydney, presenting a largely Antipodean, UK and American line-up across Sydney Opera House, Enmore Theatre, Factory Theatre and City Recital Hall. Highlights from this year's program include English comedy stalwart Bill Bailey, who'll be bringing stand-up, sing-alongs and satire to the Sydney Opera House in his new show, Earl of Whimsy. You know him from his laugh-out-loud roles in Crazy Rich Asians, The Hangover and Community, but did you know Ken Jeong actually started his career as a doctor before moving to stand-up? He'll be reverting back to his foundations in comedy, with a one-off Opera House performance. Iliza Shlesinger, who was the first woman to win Last Comic Standing in 2008, and has four Netflix specials to her name and the hugely popular podcast, Truth and Iliza. Improviser extraordinaire Reggie Watts, who'll be using just has voice and looping pedals to create a hilarious musical performance.  Whose Line is it Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops, who'll be bringing a touch of the Whose Line magic to Sydney in an improvised performance. Ryan Hamilton and Becky Lucas will also both take to the Opera House while Ismo, Kenny Sebastian and Mo Gilligan will hit the Factory Theatre for solo shows.  Returning this year is the popular All-Star Gala (which tends to sell out), which will again be hosted by Dave Hughes and features Reggie Watts, the stars of Whose Line is

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Head to Whirly Bird's aperitivo hour
Restaurants

Head to Whirly Bird's aperitivo hour

Pyrmont's own cocktail and chicken devoted bar will be dishing out this new aperitivo hour every week. Inspired by the Italian tradition, you’ll be able to order up glasses of red or white wine, bitter amari or Resch's Draught for just $5. If you're after a cocktail, there will be a menu of bartender's picks. You can order up an Aperol Spritz, Negroni, Daiquiri or a Paloma. To go with your drinks, you can peruse a selection of $10 snacks, including salt and pepper silken tofu, avocado and edamame guacamole, chicken and chorizo croquettes and spicy jalapeño poppers. A highlight of the $10 menu is Whirly Bird's signature messy wings, which you can order in three different styles – chilli caramel with pickled radish, sesame and lime; satay with spicy peanut sauce and green onions; or classic buffalo wings, with honey and chilli hot sauce, blue cheese dip and celery. If you're in on Thursday night you'll also find $12 burgers, and every day you can get around the rest of the full Whirly Bird menu, which includes rotisserie chicken and porchetta, buttermilk fried chicken and salads. Whirly Bird's aperitivo hour goes down Sunday through Thursday from 5pm-7pm, making it the perfect spot for after work drinks or a pre-theatre bite to eat. Find out more about Whirly Bird.

Local guide to Double Bay with Kayla Lagesse, the Sheaf
Bars

Local guide to Double Bay with Kayla Lagesse, the Sheaf

The Sheaf has a legendary status as an Eastern Suburbs party pub. Visiting this Double Bay venue is practically a rite of passage for young people, and there's a line-up of DJs and live entertainment throughout the week. Their beer garden is one of the best places to be, day or night. One of the Sheaf’s biggest fans works there: duty manager Kayla Lagesse. Kayla, how long have you worked here?I have worked at the Sheaf for just over four years. I applied for a job as soon as I turned 18! I started out as a food runner in the bistro and have since worked my way up to bartender, then a bar supervisor, and now a duty manager. What do you love most about your job?Hospitality is one of the greatest industries to work in. There is always something exciting happening, whether it’s a big event or helping create a new cocktail list. I’m someone who enjoys eating and drinking, and I also value being able to provide guests with a great experience and tell a story through the food and drinks they enjoy. Plus, I have met some of my greatest friends, and so many people with interesting stories along the way. Who have you met?I know many of the customers that come in very well. A mother and infant son have come in for the past three years, and some of the baby’s first words were learning the staff’s names! There were two girls who came in on a Wednesday night and one of the girls’ boyfriends had just dumped her. They seemed a bit down, so I sent them over a couple of [complimentary] Cosm

Get around these chimney cone ice creams
Restaurants

Get around these chimney cone ice creams

Sydney has its very own dessert truck devoted to chimney cones, a traditional Hungarian dessert that takes grilled sugar dusted doughnut-like cones, fills them with ice cream, then tops it with sweet treats. Pimp My Chimney rolls around Sydney serving up the decadent, portable dessert, and now you can find it at a bunch of locations around the city and surrounds. You'll find them regularly at EQ Moore Park and in Blacktown, and also at one-off events including the upcoming Cabaramatta Moon Festival; Penrith Octoberfest and the Marrickville Festival. To keep your eye out for where you can get around the treat, follow the Pimp My Chimney Facebook. Once you track the dessert truck down, you'll be able to try one of the eight tasty chimney cones like the Naughty Nuts Nutella, Nutella brownies, vanilla ice cream and hazelnuts; the Cheeky Choc, cookies, choc fingers, flakes, sauce and ice cream; or the oozey doozy Caramel Baby, with honeycomb, caramel fudge, caramel popcorn, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Find out more about Pimp My Chimney.