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
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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'.
Seven key artworks in Masters of modern art from the Hermitage
The Art Gallery of NSW’s big exhibition for this summer features 65 artworks from St Petersburg’s massive Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage holds more than 3 million items (most aren’t on permanent display) and is the second biggest art museum in the world, just behind the Louvre. It was established by Catherine the Great in 1764 and has amassed art from all around the world, from just about every major artist and major artistic movement. The AGNSW exhibition is focused on a very specific part of the Hermitage’s collection, and most of the works that have landed in Sydney are by French artists and not Russians. They're the painters who forged the path through late impressionism and into the expansive modernism the world saw explode in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne, Pissarro, Picasso, Matisse and Signac. You mightn’t know that two Russians played a pivotal role in this period of evolution: collectors Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov were championing some of those master painters, some of whom were overlooked by the art world elite in their home countries. Shchukin, for example, was collecting Matisse artworks (of which there are eight in this exhibition) when Matisse was a total unknown. The pair's boundary-pushing collections influenced a whole generation of Russian artists, and eventually came to be held by the Hermitage after decades of Russian political evolution. All 65 paintings have been taken directly off the walls of the He
This ancient meat-shaped stone is coming to the Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW this morning announced their 2019 program, with a mixture of international heavyweights (a retrospective of conceptual art master Marcel Duchamp), exhibitions highlighting local stars (a Ben Quilty solo show) and exhibitions drawn from the gallery's rich collection (including an exhibition focused on Indigenous photography). It's still yet to unveil the summer blockbuster for the 2019-20 slot. But there's one artwork that really caught our eye (though not our nose or tastebuds, unfortunately). The imaginatively titled 'Meat-shaped stone' is the most famous and popular artwork at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, which holds a treasure trove of ancient Chinese art and artefacts from more than 8,000 years. And yes, it looks a lot like a piece of meat. The museum will be sending more than 150 artworks to Sydney for Heaven and earth in Chinese art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The exhibition includes paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade and wood carvings. But back to the pork. The stone was carved from jasper and dyed to resemble Dongpo pork belly. There's a bit of contention over exactly when it was crafted, but it's from the Qing Dynasty, narrowing it down to somewhere from 1644 to 1911. It's rarely loaned because of its huge popularity, but in 2014 made its way to a Tokyo exhibition, where it was visited by around 21,000 people each day. That's a pretty big audience for a stone that's not even ei
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A perfect day at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park
The Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park occupies an enviable position on Elizabeth Street, facing onto the green oasis of Hyde Park, near to the city's retail centre. Here, you have easy access to the Art Gallery, Darling Harbour, and an outstanding array of bars and restaurants. Check in and get exploring.
Treat yourself to a long Saturday breakfast
Everyone knows the best part of a hotel stay is the buffet breakfast the next day, and inarguably one of the most lavish in town is at Glass Brasserie in Hilton Sydney on George Street in the CBD. Well, now you can experience all the brekky trimmings, great coffee, and cheeky weekend brunch cocktails at their Saturday bottomless late breakfast without having to book a room. Available every Saturday, Glass Brasserie is offering their legendary buffet breakfast with some extra treats thrown in. From 10am-12.30pm you can enjoy the buffet plus unlimited barista coffee, bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys, all for just $49pp. So grab a tableload of your mates, book a surprise indulgence for your visiting relos, or just treat yourself to an exquisite solo feast – the late breakfast is the perfect way to kick off your weekend. Find out more about the Bottomless Late Breakfast in Glass Brasserie.
Sydney by Kayak
The most challenging part of the Sunrise Kayak and Coffee tour is getting up at 5am – but rising early gives you glassy waters and glorious photo opportunities that’ll make your hungover friends incredibly jealous on a Sunday morning. Instructor Laura Stone and husband Ben run weekly dawn tours that make the most of Sydney Harbour before most people turn and hit snooze. They set up single kayaks at Lavender Bay Boat Ramp ready for the 5.40am meeting time and while we’re learning the best way to hold our paddles, Laura is picking up everyone’s coffee orders from a local café. Each raft has a custom coffee holder, and the ceramic cups keep the brews warm until you’ve paddled under the Bridge. The harbour water is velvety smooth, and the kayaks are very stable so you don’t need to work hard to paddle around Luna Park and into position as the sunlight hits Sydney Opera House. Our fleet rafts up to enjoy the view, sipping flat whites through the salty silicone lids and snapping away with our phones. If you don’t want to risk dropping your own camera, there’s a photographer on each tour and you can purchase personal pics for $30. Though the kayaks have glass-bottom windows the water’s still too dark to reveal any sea life – however, we do spot a fur seal frolicking by Blues Point Reserve. After an hour or so of gentle paddling we glide over to Sawmillers Reserve to check out the shipwreck. The ferries don’t start until 8am, so there’s time to go slow. It’s one of the drie
Cake Bake and Sweets Show
You won’t find any Shake ‘n Bake at the Cake Bake and Sweets Show – this flour-covered expo only dishes out top tier sweet treats. There’s masterclasses, cake-decorating competitions, workshops and cooking demonstrations for home bakers, and plenty of taste-testing opportunities if dessert is your kryptonite. Over three days of baking events, you’ll get the chance to be tutored by international celebrity chefs and local baking stars. Pastry chef at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel Anna Polyviou will share her creative dessert skills, appearing alongside local Instagram dessert queen Katherine Sabbath and Benny Rivera from New York’s City Cakes. Throughout the show, learn how to temper couverture chocolate, whip together the smoothest buttercream, create sharp frosting edges and even construct a multi-tiered wedding cake. There will also be an exhibition space to taste the full carbtastic menu, explore new baking appliances and have cookbooks signed by your baking idols. Some savoury baked items will make the cut, and there’ll be an area dedicated to healthy baking, so you can go nuts on your cheat day without going into a sugar coma. You'll need to register for most classes and workshops, which are an additional cost on top of the entry ticket price.