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A former fetish shop on Oxford Street has transformed into an art gallery

You can see photography of these stunning ‘Bloomscapes’ there.

Alannah Maher
Written by
Alannah Maher

Many venues around Sydney quietly underwent facelifts while the city was locked down for much of this year, but one city shop has taken the 2020 pivot to new places, transforming a former Darlinghurst fetish store into a gallery showcasing exciting works from emerging Australian artists. Babekühl Gallery has taken over the former Sax Fetish shop at 110a Oxford Street, taking advantage of the empty space around the corner from Babekühl’s creative studio.

While you won't find whips and chains, you will find some stunning photography featuring dreamlike plumes of pink. The gallery’s debut exhibition Bloomscapes opens on Saturday, November 14, featuring infrared photography of fantastical cityscapes drenched in voluminous blush blooms by studio co-founder Billy Ryan. Ryan shot the photographs on a special camera modified for infrared light while he was in Shanghai in 2019.

“My aim with Bloomscapes is not only to explore the unseen, but also to capture the familiar in an unsettling, exotic way,” Ryan said in a press release. “The vibrant colours remind me of an algal bloom, which is a phenomenon that naturally brings surreal, oversaturated colours to our environment.”

With a mission to support the emerging art and design community, the gallery space is available for rent, commission-free. “We’re not interested in gentrifying the area, we’re here from a cultural stewardship point of view,” said Ryan. “I grew up at a time where Darlinghurst, and especially Oxford Street, was the cultural centre of Sydney, but we’ve been watching it lose some of its energy in recent years. We’re actively trying to foster the creative energy of what Darlinghurst has always represented, and we thought this was a perfect way to do that.”

Meanwhile, if you’re after BDSM gear, Sax Fetish has moved to 247 Oxford St.

Bloomscapes is showing at Babekühl Gallery from November 14. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from noon-6pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. Find out more here.

Want more? Check out the best art exhibitions in Sydney this month.

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