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
Sydney's biggest festival of Australian art is returning next year
Last year three of Sydney's biggest art institutions launched the first iteration of The National, a biennial (meaning it happens once every two years) festival of contemporary Australian art. Almost 300,000 people turned out across the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks to see works from our leading artists, many of which were made specifically for the exhibition. The artworks ran the gamut from paintings, photographs and drawings to large-scale sculptures, video works and installations. The National happens in the off-years of the Biennale of Sydney, filling that biennale-shaped hole in your heart. The galleries have planned to run the event three times – 2017, 2019 and 2021 – but if all of Sydney turns out to support it they might just extend. Now we've got more details about the second iteration, including the full line-up of 65 artists drawn from all across the country and all stages of their careers. While each has its own theme, all three institutions are presenting a diverse line-up of artists who are responding to the state of the world as it currently stands but drawing in historical and cultural perspectives. The curatorial team for 2019 draws together staff members from all the institutions: AGNSW curator of photographs, Isobel Parker Philip; Carriageworks senior curator of visual arts, Daniel Mudie Cunningham; and MCA curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections and exhibitions, Clothilde Bullen with MCA curato
Just Not Australian
Just one day before it was due to premiere in Melbourne in 2018, Sydney duo Soda_Jerk's latest film lost the support of the philanthropic trust that contributed $100,000 to its development. Soda_Jerk (aka Dan and Dominique Angelero) didn't lose the money they used to produce Terror Nullius, but the Ian Potter Cultural Trust no longer wanted to be associated with the promotion or publicity of a film that they deemed too controversial. So what exactly sent the trust running for cover? The film splices together classic pieces of Australian cinema into a political revenge fable that challenges Australian mythology. Expect to see Pauline Hanson alongside the characters of Mad Max while the voice of John Howard rings out across the desert. Characters from Muriel's Wedding meet Josh Thomas in Please Like Me, Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper, and even the Babadook. Terror Nullius is the centrepiece of this exhibition, which features work from 20 living Australian artists working with satire and alternative narratives, and questioning what it is to be Australian. There's also work from Vincent Namitjira, Tony Albert, Abdul Abdullah, Cigdem Aydemir, Karla Dickens, Joan Ross and more.
It was more than four decades ago that journalist and anti-development activist Juanita Nielsen disappeared from the streets of Sydney. Nobody knows exactly what happened to her, but it’s believed she met a violent end due to her opposition to the development of Victoria Street, where tenants were being evicted to make way for more apartment blocks. And the possible theories about her fate are wild; one is that she’s buried under the runway at Sydney Airport. So it only makes sense to approach this unusual story in an unusual fashion, which is exactly what Sydney artist Zanny Begg does in this documentary film having its local premiere for Sydney Festival. The Beehive stitches together documentary footage, recreations and other film shot by Begg (Pamela Rabe plays a narrator), but the fabric of this stitching together is determined by a randomised computer algorithm. Each screening lasts somewhere between 20 and 33 minutes, and there are 1,344 possible ways it could turn out.
There’s no event as inextricably linked to summer in this city as Sydney Festival. The annual three-week event, running throughout January, always features an eclectic line-up of theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts and talks. It’s primarily an arts festival, but its remit extends far beyond – it incorporates a ferrython on January 26 – to get you out and about any way that it can. This festival is Wesley Enoch’s third, and he’s just extended his contract for another two years, meaning he’ll also helm the 2020 and 2021 festivals. For 2019, he’s got two particular things on his mind. The first is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, which Enoch says we could look to as a model for how we can tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. “It was a collective cultural ambition around the world, even through competition,” he says. “This idea that 50 years ago, without war, there were great technological advances, and a great collective pursuit and understanding of the world. “It cost billions of dollars even then. For me, there’s a lovely connection with climate change, and this idea that actually we need more collective approaches to dealing with this rather than the individual, even though the politics of the day are very much about individualism.” There are several moon-focused installations in his festival, including a series of “moon drops” at Darling Harbour, which invite locals to jump or roll over giant water-filled droplets. The second of Enoch’s preoccup
News and interviews
Nick Cave's epic artworks use extreme beauty to tackle the world's ugliness
Nick Cave creates fiercely beautiful, emotive and highly theatrical immersive art. He is part installation artist, part choreographer, part costumer, part sculptor, part sound artist and unceasing educator. His latest piece at Carriageworks sees him employ almost all of these disciplines to address some of the most pressing issues of our time: race relations, gender politics and gun violence. The title, “UNTIL”, is a play on the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” or, in this case, “guilty until proven innocent.” Lisa Havilah, Carriageworks’ outgoing director, said, “I think the magic of Nick Cave is he draws you in with extreme beauty but within that world he really seduces you to think in a different way.” Hers is a perfect description of the power of Cave’s work. Photograph: Daniel Boud UNTIL was created to shift hearts and minds, and is Carriageworks’ largest commission yet – co-commissioned with the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), where it premiered in 2016, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. “I want to raise consciousness” Cave told Time Out. “My choice of materials or medium, or how I do this, changes year to year, but my objective always remains to create connection between people and to raise consciousness on important issues… Art can and will change attitudes.” His vision is extraordinary, using glass, light, scale and optimism to bust open the barriers. The sheer magnitude of the installation (90 per cen
The Art Gallery of NSW has revealed final plans for its new $344 million gallery
It's been more than three years since Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA won the contract to design the Sydney Modern project – the Art Gallery of New South Wales' $344 million expansion, branching off from the original gallery building with a series of major new exhibition spaces – and now we finally have a better sense of what it'll be like to visit the gallery when it finally opens. Even more exciting – the project has finally got planning approval and there's a timeline locked in. Construction is due to begin early next year, and Sydney Modern will open in 2021 to coincide with the gallery's 150th anniversary. Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2018 According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of changes have been made to the original design to get approval on a project that's been pretty controversial at times (even Paul Keating had a typically colourful spray about the plans). The façade of the expansion will be changed from its original cool whites and greys to a warmer natural stone colour that's closer to the original sandstone building, and the gallery has agreed to increase green space and ensure that 65 per cent of the site (formerly parklands in the Domain) will remain publicly accessible 24 hours a day. The project will almost double its available exhibition space, so the gallery is hoping it will increase annual visitor numbers from last year's 1.35 million
7 reasons to visit Adelaide Festival next March
Every major capital city in Australia has its own arts festival, but ask those who work in the industry and most will tell you the same thing: Adelaide Festival is the big one. It has a history of attracting the most significant artists in the world. It’s been running since 1960, but its scope is so big it only became an annual event in 2012. Basically, it’s where to go if you want to binge on cutting-edge, high-profile, large-scale international art. The last two years, under co-artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy, have been particularly impressive, and they’ve just announced a third festival for 2019, with 23 shows exclusive to Adelaide and ten world premieres. Things kick off with Australian expat-turned-European opera heavyweight Barrie Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute on March 1, 2019. That production will totally sell out, but here are seven other reasons to book that ticket and try not to drown in art. 1. This music theatre production crosses through six African countries South African theatre company Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope has toured the world extensively but is making its Australian debut at Adelaide Festival. And it’s somewhat appropriate that this work (part opera, part musical) should’ve travelled so far given it’s a story of travel itself. It follows eight-year-old Asad Abdullahi, who, after witnessing the murder of his mother, sets off on an extraordinary journey from Somalia to find a new home. Photograph: Keith Pattison
One of Monet’s most famous paintings is heading to the NGA
The Monet painting that gave the impressionist movement its name is coming to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in June 2019. Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise) is leaving the walls of the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris for a turn in a new gallery space at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, alongside almost 60 other impressionist masterpieces. The majority of these will be from the man himself, but there will also be works from JMW Turner, the English romantic painter whose style influenced Monet, as well as other artists who were influenced in turn by the French artist. The paintings in this exhibition have been gathered from the Marmottan, as well as the Tate in London and other galleries in Australia and New Zealand. The exhibition is curated by the Marmottan’s Marianne Mathieu, who was in charge of the research into the background of this famous painting, which depicts the port of Le Havre on the north coast of France. The story goes that when Monet was asked for the title of his depiction of the busy port, he named it an impression because it couldn’t be considered the kind of view that was in keeping with the realism art movement of the time. The NGA revealed its full 2019 program today, which also includes an exhibition which will put two artistic rivals – Matisse and Picasso – in the same room, and will track their relationship through their art. Sourced from private and public collections, it will be a unique group of works, man
Sculpture by the Sea 2018 in pictures
Sculpture by the Sea is back for its 22nd year, drawing hordes of snap-happy crowds to Bondi, ready to Instagram the bejesus out of the coastline. This year's iteration is made up of 107 sculptures from 21 countries. One of this year's major initiatives is a series of works from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, including the sculpture by Mu Buyan pictured above, taking pride of place on the headland off Marks Park. Here are some of our favourite sculptures which you can see until November 4 along the two kilometre walk from Bondi to Tamarama. Deborah Halpern, 'The Face'. Photograph: Daniel Boud Britt Mikkelsen, 'Lair'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Itamar Freed, 'Whispering to Venus'. Photograph: Daniel Boud Wei Wang, 'Walking'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Mu Boyan, 'Bank'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Hugh McLachlan, 'Narcissus Shouting, Echo Shouting'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Sandra Pitkin, 'Wave Within'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. April Pine, 'Shifting Horizons'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Goldberg Aberline Studio (GAS), 'Microcosm'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Lubomir Mikle, 'F.E.H.' Photograph: Daniel Boud. Kevin Draper 'Configuration'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Jiang Jie, 'The Butterfly Dream'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Cool Shit, 'Damien Hirst Looking for Sharks'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Viktor Freso 'Niemand'. Photograph: Daniel Boud. Gillie and Marc Schattner, 'Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are'.
You might also like...
Boys of Sondheim
Even if you don't know the name Stephen Sondheim you'll most likely find that you are familiar with his work. It includes the likes of West Side Story, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd and Gypsy (just to name a few). He’s also arguably one of the most important theatre composers and lyricists of the 20th century. City Recital Hall is hosting a cabaret show entitled Boys of Sondheim in dedication to his work. Featuring an all-male cast, the performance will take you through Sondheim’s work, including everything from love duets to triumphant ballads, to routines designed for their spectacle. It originally made its debut at Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the 2017 Melt: Festival of Queer Arts and Culture, and is now being performed as a 2019 Mardi Gras Festival Premier event. Among the cast are Kris Stewart (the creator, director and narrator), Anthony Nocera, Blake Erickson, James Lee, Tyran Parke, Kurt Phelan and Hayden Rodgers. The evening begins at 8pm at the City Recital Hall and tickets are $40-$55 per person with an additional booking fee if you buy them online or over the phone (but none if you do it in person).
Trevor Ashley's Mardi Gala
Mardi Gras just wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a big show from Trevor Ashley. This year, the cabaret and drag artist is returning to the Opera House's biggest venue for a glitzy gala featuring some of his famous friends: showbiz royalty Rhonda Burchmore, comedian Tom Ballard, singers Tim Campbell and Shauna Jensen, actor-turned-crooner Hugh Sheridan, and Oxford Street legend Minnie Cooper. They'll be joined by a 12-piece orchestra. And it also wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a party: there's a post-show function in the Opera House's Northern Foyer, with beautiful harbour views and sounds from DJ Victoria Anthony.
Insider’s guide to Bangkok and Phuket
One of the most-visited destinations in the world, Thailand is an explosion of scents, flavours and experiences, bursting with places to see, things to do and food to eat. The Thai capital, Bangkok, is a cosmopolitan metropolis that boasts a fascinating juxtaposition of ancient spired temples sitting alongside glittering high-rise structures; buzzing night markets set amid modern malls; and shophouse eateries coexisting with swanky restaurants. Bangkok serves as a gateway to many other parts of Thailand, including Phuket, the country’s biggest and busiest island. An irresistible draw for beach lovers for its azure-blue waters and powdery stretches of sand, Phuket is also home to luxurious resorts, world-class spa retreats, an incredible food scene and a vibrant nightlife. In association with Amazing Thailand, Time Out has created an Insider's guide to Bangkok and Phuket, as a downloadable handbook. This handy guide to two of Thailand's most popular destinations fleshes out popular places of interest as well as off-the-beaten-track gems, and rounds up where to eat, what to do, where to get your massage fix, and how to make the most of your visit. Explore more of Bangkok and Phuket Make the most of your visit with our handy guide to the best places to see, things to do and food to eat. Download the full guide