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The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

From the biggest blockbusters to the smallest shows – here's everything artistic worth checking out in September

People walking at Sydney Contemporary 2018
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Things are starting to heat up this month, with major arts events and exhibitions popping up across the city. There's something to match everyone's craving, whether it's for the art wonderland that is Sydney Contemporary, or a glimpse at our artistic past in Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best art galleries in Sydney and see our city's best street art.

The best art in Sydney in August

Michael Armitage: The Promised Land MCA 2019
Michael Armitage, 'The Promised Land' 2019

Michael Armitage: The Promised Land

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage is only in his mid-thirties but his uniquely beautiful paintings are in huge demand around the world. The MCA is presenting his first exhibition in Australia, which includes recent work and new large-scale paintings telling stories of folklore, history and memories from East Africa.

Shaun Gladwell Install
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Shaun Gladwell: Pacific Undertow

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

Shaun Gladwell is best known for his mesmerising slow motion video works depicting him skateboarding or riding BMX bikes against classic Australian backdrops, or more recently, for his virtual and augmented reality works that have been shown at the Cannes and Sydney Film Festivals. 

Marama Dina Campbelltown Arts Centre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Sam Hartnett

Marama Dina

icon-location-pin Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown

Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand women with iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) heritage take over Campbelltown Arts Centre to celebrate their culture as part of a new exhibition, Marama Dina. Featuring new commissions from ten female iTaukei artists, the exhibition explores what it means to be iTaukei outside of Fiji, and the ways in which Indigenous Fijian culture has been eroded by decades of colonisation and migration.

Tjungu Palyangku 2019 Artbank supplied image
Photograph: Silversalt

Tjungu Palya: As We Come Together We Stand Strong For Our Story

icon-location-pin Artbank, Waterloo

Tjungu Palya is an Aboriginal-owned and run art centre in South Australia, around 450 km south-west of Alice Springs at the base of the Mann Ranges. Given that it’s situated in the Nyapari community, of which there are only around 85 members, it’s a significant and influential force in Australian art. 

Paper Tigers National Art School 2019 supplied
Karen Hall and Ruth Waller, 'Cabaret Conspiracy at Maxy’s', 1979

Paper Tigers

icon-location-pin National Art School, Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst in the '70s and early '80s was a hotbed of music, art, theatre and progressive politics. Nimrod Theatre (now Belvoir) was making its mark, the clubs of Oxford Street were booming and over at the National Art School, artists such as Mental as Anything founder Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), Martin Sharp and Garry Shead were cutting their teeth.

Kaldor Public Art Projects 2019 AGNSW supplied
Photograph: Eric Sierins

Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

Fifty years ago, John Kaldor changed Australian art history when he invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to Sydney to wrap two and a half kilometres of coastline with white fabric. Fast forward half a century, and Kaldor has now staged 34 awe-inspiring public art projects from artists including Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, Gilbert & George, Jonathan Jones and Sol LeWitt.

Then White Rabbit 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Supplied


icon-location-pin White Rabbit, Chippendale

For ten years now, Judith Neilson's four-storey temple of contemporary Chinese art has stood proudly in Chippendale, showcasing an enviable collection of bold, playful and frequently provocative work. 

Here We Are Art Gallery of NSW supplied image 2019
Kushana Bush, 'Here we are' 2016.

Here We Are

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

Our major galleries are always adding exciting new art to their enviable collections, picking up works from around the world. The Art Gallery of NSW has collected plenty of beautiful and provocative contemporary art in recent years, and is showing some of its latest acquisitions by leading women artists in this free exhibition exploring the intricacies of human relationships. 

Cement Fondu - Heath Franco - Valley
Photograph: Enzo Amato

Heath Franco: Valley

icon-location-pin Cement Fondu, Darlinghurst

Heath Franco is best known for his zany, provocative video works, which have been exhibited at The National, MONA FOMA and Dark Mofo. He always creates something that’s strangely beautiful and overwhelming in its use of rhythm, colour and pop culture imagery. 

Art, Film and video


icon-location-pin The Cutaway, Barangaroo

On May 30, a very special temporary installation opened in the entrance to the Cutaway, the cathedral-like underground cultural space that is part of the Barangaroo urban renewal project. Commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, ‘Wellama’ is a new, ten-minute filmed artwork that celebrates the connection of Aboriginal people to the land and portrays some of the rituals that have been practised here for thousands of years.

<meta charset="utf-8" /><p>'Capitalist Bloom' by Chloe Alice</p>
Art, Sculpture and installations

Eden Unearthed

icon-location-pin Eden Gardens, Macquarie Park

You know Sculpture by the Sea and you know Sculpture at Scenic World. Perhaps you even know Hidden at Rookwood Cemetery. But do you know about Eden Unearthed at Eden Gardens?  It’s the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place among the flowers and plants at Macquarie Park’s popular display garden Eden Gardens. 

Step outside the gallery

Jenny Munro
Photograph: Ken Leanfore
Art, Public 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. 

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