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Ibrahim Mahama's stunning art din Cockatoo Island Turbine Hall
Photograph: Zan WimberleyIbrahim Mahama's stunning art decks the Turbine Hall.

Art exhibitions to see in Sydney this weekend

Here are the art exhibitions and events to check out this weekend – from inner city blockbusters to the outer burbs

Stephen A Russell
Alannah Le Cross
Written by
Stephen A Russell
&
Alannah Le Cross
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Art lovers, your weekend is sorted. Here's our plan of everything you need to check out, from ticketed blockbusters to small-scale freebies. If you're looking further ahead, consult our list of art exhibitions to see in Sydney this month.

RECOMMENDED: The best art galleries in Sydney.

  • Art
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney

Are you ready to chase artistic escapades around the city? The Biennale of Sydney is back for its 24th edition from March 9 to June 10, 2024. Whether you’re a dedicated arts fanatic or a casual culture buff, you’ll find something to inspire and provoke you along this epic art trail. The largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, the Biennale is taking over six different locations with awe-inspiring installations and intriguing exhibitions. Titled Ten Thousand Suns, this year the festival explores a multiplicity of global cultures, taking on a transgressive spirit as it leans into the origins of Carnivale. As always, the Biennale is free for everyone to visit for a total of 16 weeks.   Of all the locations, White Bay Power Station is absolutely the main character of the Biennale’s 50th year anniversary (and 24th iteration – it takes place every second year). This is the first time the revitalised industrial site will officially open its doors to the public in more than 100 years – and what they’ve accomplished is pretty spectacular. Years of accumulated pigeon poop has been cleared out of the enormous factory spaces, making way for art installations that tower multiple storeys high, and more works hidden in various nooks and crannies. Pop-up bars and brand new bathrooms also set the stage for a packed program of live performances and music curated by Phoenix Central Park. Think of White Bay as a replacement for the role that Cockatoo Island has played in Sydney’s

  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Sydney

A fascinating sight has appeared on the forecourt of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ original South Building, and heads are turning. A monumental spider, which stands more than nine metres high and ten metres wide, made of bronze, steel and marble, is the unmissable first encounter gallery visitors will have with the work of trailblazing French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The world-famous and seminal arachnidian sculpture, ‘Maman’ (1999), is an ode to the artist’s mother, who she described as “deliberate, clever, patient, soothing… and [as] useful as a spider”.  The colossal sculpture is in Australia for the first time ever as part of the largest and most comprehensive display of the artist’s work ever seen in the Asia Pacific – Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? – which opens on Saturday, November 25, as part of the 2023 Sydney International Art Series (closing on April 28, 2024). Her work maintained – and still delivers – a charge of intimacy, urgency and piercing peculiarity... The exhibition spreads across a considerably large footprint, weaving through the Art Gallery campus with the eerily beautiful force of a wave of spiders wrapping the institution in a silken, cobwebbed nest. This is also the first major solo exhibition to be staged in the Art Gallery’s world-class modern North Building, the centrepiece of the Sydney Modern expansion, almost one year since it opened to the public in December 2022.  Moving from

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  • Art
  • Photography
  • Darling Harbour

There’s something so intriguing about exploring the depths of the ocean, because we don't get much chance to check out what's down there. If you’re not a diver but you’ve always wanted to see what happens underneath the ripples of the water's surface, check out the world premiere of an ocean photography exhibition that's coming to the Australian National Maritime Museum.  From November 16, the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 exhibition will feature all of the winners and finalists of the of the prize, which is led by Oceanographic Magazine.  Marvel at more than 100 of the most awe-inspiring wildlife shots ever snapped. Particular highlights will no doubt be getting your peepers on the winning image from photographer Jialing Cai. Her incredible photo of a female paper nautilus riding on a stick was taken at night while scuba diving in the Philippines. There are award-winning photos across 10 categories, including the Ocean Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year and the Ocean Fine Art Photographer of the Year.   Australian National Maritime Museum Director and CEO Daryl Karp said she was thrilled to be welcoming such esteemed wildlife work to Sydney, and she hopes the exhibition will shine a light on the work that needs to be done to protect our oceans. “As Australia’s museum of the sea, we have embraced the opportunity to display these amazing images from ocean photographers globally, creating an immersive exhibition experience, while e

  • Art
  • Ultimo

Just as Sydney (and the rest of the world) is in raptures about a doctored image released by Catherine the Princess of Wales, the Sydney dates for a very royal photograph exhibition have been announced. The exhibition documenting the life of Princess Diana will take to Sydney from Wednesday, April 10 until July 10 – and tickets go on sale soon.  Hot on the regal heels of sold-out tours in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and Puerto Rico, and a successful Aussie debut Melbourne, it's now Sydney's turn to spotlight Princess Diana's life, showcasing her version of events as told through the lens of her official royal photographer, Anwar Hussein.  Princess Diana: Accredited Access Exhibition will delve into the intimate relationship between a princess and a photographer, uncovering all sides of Diana. Accredited by the royal family, Anwar Hussein is famed for capturing the shifting perceptions of the Windsors through work that focuses on capturing the humanity of these aloof figures. His sons, Samir and Zak, have followed in their father's footsteps and won awards for their photographs of Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Themes for the exhibition include The Photography Dark Room, Growing, Glam, Hats and Tiaras, Art Installations and Humanitarian and Unguarded. You can expect the showcase to whisk you on a journey with first-hand narration and images that transport you to a time and place where the people's princess reigned supreme.  Princess Diana: Accredited Access E

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Chippendale

A state-of-the-art temple to contemporary Chinese art hidden on a Chippendale backstreet, we always look forward to what White Rabbit Gallery has in store for us. And it looks like the gallery is heading into 2024 with a bang, with A Blueprint for Ruins set to explore the fallout of rapid urbanisation across the gallery’s four floors from December through to May. Summoning apocalyptic images of cities tearing themselves apart to make way for towering skyscrapers and gleaming high-rises, this exhibition reverberates with the shadows of the dispossessed within China’s urban metamorphosis. As the nation’s cities race to embrace modernity in a never-ending dance of renewal, buildings are designed to be demolished even before their completion. The casualties of development are left to drift through the ruins of their ruptured world. Displaced individuals and their stories echo through abandoned spaces, once home to ancestral sites and legacies of long family lineages. The artworks in A Blueprint for Ruins guide us toward the remnants of memories woven into the very fabric of each structure, even as the walls crumble. As the artist Hu Weiyi poignantly writes: “It’s as if every abandoned building, about to disappear, is attempting to sing its last note, and eventually they will come together to form a requiem for an era.” As always, a trip to White Rabbit isn’t complete without pots of freshly brewed tea and plates of steaming dumplings under the canopy of empty birdcages in the caf

  • Art
  • Photography
  • price 0 of 4
  • Camperdown

Explore the hidden marvels of Sydney University's Chauk Chak Wing Museum, where a captivating retrospective of renowned Gomeroi/Gamilaraay photographer Barbara McGrady is currently on display. This new free photographic exhibition chronicles significant social, political and historical moments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Sydney over the last 30 years. Hero images feature the Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, Ash Barty receiving a Dreamtime Award in 2017, the Koori Knockout, and the premiere of The Sapphires movie.  Barbara McGrady, or Aunty Barb as she is known in her community, is not only one of the first Aboriginal female photographers, but one of Australia’s most important documentary photographers. Her works celebrate the diverse contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and reveal an insider’s perspective into historical events, such as the death of TJ Hickey, and the Black Lives Matter protests.  Barbara McGrady: Australia Has a Black History puts a spotlight on these major political events of contemporary Aboriginal life, which are rarely portrayed positively by mainstream media. Other incredible works of McGrady’s included in the exhibition capture Indigenous performances, high-profile individuals, and community events including protests and social gatherings in and around Redfern.  “The chosen works for Barbara McGrady: Australia Has a Black History fall into three categories: sport, activism, and community,” sai

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  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Sydney

With a distinctive art style that probes at the veil between myth and reality, Western Sydney-based Filipina-Australian artist Marikit Santiago’s paintings are a love letter to her family and her culture. It’s not hard to see why Santiago has been named the winner of the 2024 La Prairie Art Award, and you can see her impressive work for yourself now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Now in its third year, the prestigious La Prairie Art Award is all about championing Australian women artists. A partnership between the Art Gallery of NSW and Swiss luxury skincare house La Prairie, the prestigious award comprises the acquisition of artwork for the Art Gallery collection, as well as an international artist residency in Europe.  Santiago was selected for her two paintings ‘A Seat at the Table (Magulang)’ and ‘A Seat at the Table (Kapatid)’. These tender portraits portray two generations of Santiago’s family – her parents and her sister – with magulang translating to ‘parents’ and kapatid to ‘sibling’ in Tagalog. These award-winning paintings are on display as part of the Making Worlds exhibition on lower level 1 of the Art Gallery’s newer North Building (the star of the Sydney Modern expansion) until late July. (Hot tip: entry is free, and the gallery is open late on Wednesdays.) Encompassing new acquisitions and much-loved collection highlights, the Making Worlds exhibition brings together artists whose work reflects on the complex worlds we create and share, both real and i

  • Art
  • Darlinghurst

A borderline psychedelic, kaleidoscopic environment awaits you at this major solo exhibition by one of Australia's foremost contemporary artists, Dale Frank, presented across two floors at The National Art School gallery in Darlinghurst.  Growers and Showers (free to visit until June 1, 2024) is filled with bold colours, glossy abstract paintings, and highly experimental assemblages that play with unexpected surfaces like shattered glass, mirror, foam, human hair, CDs and foil ducting. (If you have an aversion to creepy clowns, proceed with caution.) Coloured lights, incense, and soundtrack personally picked by the artist himself (it’s Foreigner’s 1997 debut album, on rotation) further alter the atmosphere of the space, creating an immersive viewer experience that tests the boundaries of abstraction. Presenting 45 large-scale paintings, sculptures and installations created over the past decade – including nine never-before-exhibited works – this significant survey exhibition delves into Frank’s enduring commitment to experimentation and ongoing investigation into the potentiality of painting, alongside his multidisciplinary approach. Speaking with Katraina Cashman, Senior Curator of NAS Galleries, she explains that the artist's use of pop culture references and unconventional materials serve to challenge and stimulate the viewer's senses, eliciting a physical response that lingers long after the encounter. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Time Out Sy

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