Free things to do in Sydney today
Budding horticulturalists who like plants with attitude should head to the Royal Botanical Gardens from October 1 for a free exhibition of carnivorous greenery. The Calyx will be filled with 25,000 of the world’s hungriest, most clever plants. Watch as the venus fly trap lures unsuspecting insects with nectar and snaps them up in its jaws, where they’ll spend their final days being slowly digested. Or meet the drosera, who use their sticky tentacles to attract and snatch their prey before devouring them. Then marvel at the simplicity of the pitcher plant’s hunting technique, which is to lure hapless bugs with honey and let them fall into the pool of digestive enzymes in their pitfall trap. The Plants with Bite display does sound a little like a horror film, but it’s really all bark and no bite (for humans, anyway) and families can expect a very kid-friendly experience. Plus, there will be a range of themed education programs, workshops and a regular feeding display that will intrigue little greenthumbs and their grown-ups.
In 1997, Madarrpa clan leader Djambawa Marawili discovered the head of a crocodile in a dumpster, the head of a sacred animal in the North East Arnhem Land area. It sparked a campaign by Marawili to stop illegal fishing in the area, which resulted in Yolŋu artists from 15 clans and 18 homeland communities creating sacred bark paintings of the Indigenous peoples’ connection to the land. The Yirrkala bark paintings were later deemed the equivalent of title deeds to the sea rights of coastal waters and in July 2008 the High Court of Australia confirmed what the people of the Blue Mud Bay region had known for thousands of years – that they were the traditional custodians and owners of the waters in North-East Arnhem Land. In the free exhibition, there are 40 sacred bark paintings displayed alongside the history of the momentous sea rights win, as well as oral histories, aerial photography and traditional and contemporary Indigenous objects, such as Mokuy (spirit) carvings and Larrakitj (mortuary pole paintings on hollowed trees).
This virtual-reality film has just wowed audiences at the Venice International Film Festival, and now Carriageworks has scored a coup in screening it in Australia. The creation of artist and director Lynette Wallworth and producer Nicole Newnham, who picked up an Emmy for their last VR film, Collisions, Awavena was made at the invitation of Brazilian Amazonian Yawanawa people and tells the story of Hushahu, the tribe’s first female shaman. The film will be accompanied by a free public exhibition, including a walk-through extension of the film called The Blessing Space, where visitors are given a portable VR backpack and allowed to roam the Yawanawa forest and explore it for themselves.
The MCA's collection hang is where you go to get an overview of Australian contemporary art – and it's less daunting than it sounds. The last time they curated the hang was in 2012 (MCA Collection: Volume One), for the launch of the re-designed building, so there are a whola lotta new eye-candies to wrap your brain around. Although several works in the first room of the exhibition do take 'time' as their theme (including Stuart Ringholt's giant clock) curator Natasha Bullock, who masterminded the new hang, says the theme is more broadly connected to the ways in which the works in the show connected to histories of different kinds. Bullock deliberately messed with the Western linear notion of time in the exhibition's title, and explains that the indigenous concept of time would be better visualised in a circular pattern, in which present, future and past are connected. Artists in Today Tomorrow Yesterday include: Vernon Ah Kee, James Angus, Barbara Cleveland Institute (formerly Brown Council), John Barbour, Gordon Bennett, Daniel Boyd, Pat Brassington, Bob Burruwal, A.D.S Donaldson, Mikala Dwyer, Dale Frank, Marco Fusinato, Matthys Gerber, Kevin Gilbert, Julia Gorman, Fiona Hall, Robert Hunter, Robert MacPherson, Sanné Mestrom, Frank Malkorda, Linda Marrinon, Elizabeth Mipilanggurr, Callum Morton, Barayuwa Munungur, John Nixon, Kerrie Poliness, Stuart Ringholt, Joan Ross, Super Critical Mass, Gareth Sansom, Sally Smart, Ricky Swallow, Kathy Temin, Imants Tillers, Tjanpi D
The foyer installation at White Rabbit always sets the tone for each exhibition, but the one that greets visitors to Supernatural is a pretty big statement. Hanging high above the gallery are ten life-like nude figures. They have the body of a man, but from the chest up they’re dragonflies, complete with four wings and bulbous eyes. The sculptures, called ‘Deviation’, are modelled on the artist Li Shan’s own body (apart from the dragonfly bits, obviously), and are designed to “eliminate the human superiority complex”: we don’t have 360-degree vision, can’t fly, and definitely can’t fly backwards. Why do we think we’re superior? The rest of the exhibition isn’t so much about biological transformation, but more about the way our world has transformed over the thousands of years that humans have dominated. And of course, given the exhibition’s title, there’s a touch of the supernatural about it all. Highlights include: Huang Zhen’s wire sculptures on the second floor, made to resemble the Wuyi Mountains from his home province of Fujian; Xiao Yu’s transformative bamboo sculptures, Zhu Jinshi’s dramatic oil painting which uses thick slabs of paint to form mountains; Chen Wei's urban landscape photography; Qiu Anxiong's whimsical 3D animation; and Ai Weiwei’s ‘Oil Spill’, featuring glossy black porcelain disks that look like droplets of oil. And make sure you head up to the top floor (some people may forget that you need to take the lift to see the full exhibition) where Yang
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme celebrates the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to their community, families, and our nation. In this free exhibition, visitors can see the work of leading female practitioners in their fields of weaving and shell stringing. The innovative works highlight the unbroken practices of First Nations women who have carried their knowledge through the generations for at least 65,000 years. The exhibition includes intricate body wear, which has been skilfully crafted by harvesting and processing organic and contemporary feathers, fibres and shells. It also features domestic fishing implements made from organic material.Artists featured in the exhibition include Lena Yarinkura, Dulcie Greeno, Maryann Sebasio, Muriel Maynard, Ais Bero, Lola Greeno, Mavis Warrngilna Ganambarr and Rosemary Gamajun Mamuniny.
Renowned for his arresting stop-motion video installations, William Kentridge is the best-known contemporary artist working in South Africa today. In this exhibition, curated by the artist himself, visitors can trace the development of his career, from his interest in opera and early cinema to his preoccupation with the nexus between art, ideology, history and memory as a witness to South Africa’s apartheid era. Highlights of the exhibition include one of Kentridge’s most ambitious and celebrated video installations, the eight channel 'I am not me, the horse is not mine 2008', which appeared as part of the 16th Biennale of Sydney on Cockatoo Island, as well as works across sculpture, film, charcoal, collage and tapestry, and a recreation of the artist’s studio. To coincide with the exhibition, Opera Australia will stage a new production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, directed and illustrated by Kentridge, at Sydney Opera House throughout January.
With a focus on up-and-coming designers, this vibrant exhibition gives creatives from diverse fields the opportunity to showcase works together for the first time. Designing Bright Futures is an exhibition curated by Australian Design Centre in partnership with UNSW Art & Design. It brings together textile, jewellery, graphic, object, interactive and spatial designers in a visual mixing bowl that celebrates the optimism and ambitions of a generation of creatives. The show will feature 12 young designers whose careers are just kicking into gear, giving them the opportunity to consider their crafts outside of any commercial spheer. They'll be able to consider the role of creativity in a modern context defined by issues like climate change, social inequalities, aging populations and the importance of Indigenous heritage. The works will be on display at the Australian Design Centre from November 22 for two months.
As if there weren’t already enough fabulous Sydney treats on offer at Steam Mill Lane, this new dining precinct is now hosting three days of sweet summer dessert fun. Sundaes and Sounds is setting up extra sticky stalls in the laneway, with a ridiculously Instagrammable backdrop of astroturf, oversized dessert props and colourful DJ booths, The pop-up offerings include caramelised apples from Love Dem Apples, freshly frozen, personalised ice cream rolls from Cream’d, plus live performances that encourage audience involvement with an open mic. There’ll also be dessert specials running at the regular lane operators like Bang Bang, 8Bit and the Sandwich Shop. Bang Bang’s $12 housemade matcha waffle sandwich with melted marshmallows and green tea gelato doesn’t sound too shabby, especially when paired with an $8 dark chocolate and peanut butter doughnut milkshake from 8Bit.
Halloween comes early to the Cement Fondu gallery in Paddington with this artsy take on our obsession with horror and the post-apocalyptic world. It features photography, ceramics, projections, contemporary dance and, ahem, Muslim black death metal, from Australian and international artists interested in ideas of decay, mutation and destruction. Visitors can walk through a room-sized haunted house installation which reimagines and recreates scenes from gory B-grade horror flicks, catch the Australian premiere of choreographer Angela Goh’s new work 'Body Loss', and see works by international artists Loretta Fahrenholz and Phillip Stearns. The exhibition kicks off with an opening night party featuring American photographer and performance artist Jaimie Warren on October 6. Read about the Warm Bodies Halloween party on November 3.
This huge exhibition exploring the Rolling Stones’ rise to stardom and their subsequent impact on pop culture, rock’n’roll, fashion and art is an exclusive Sydney event. It’s setting up at its only Australian destination, the International Convention Centre, from November 17 until February 3, 2019. It will feature more than 500 items from throughout the band’s career, including vintage guitars, lyric books, backstage and touring paraphernalia, album art, and the personal diaries and letters of the Stones themselves. Their style, which definied a generation of rock fans wardrobes, will be on show, with clothing items worn by the band members from the ’60s till today on display. These will be accompanied by articles from designers who were inspired by or dressed the group, including Alexander McQueen, Prada, Dior, Gucci, L’Wren Scott, Mr Fish and more. If you’ve lived under a rolling stone (sorry) for the last 50 years and aren’t clued up about this genre-defining rock group, the exhibition curators are adamant that you’ll still enjoy your experience. There’s 190 original Stones-inspired artworks from the likes of Andy Warhol, David Bailey and John Pasche to enjoy, alongside an interactive sound deck and recording studio, a film screening narrated by Martin Scorsese, video elements throughout the exhibit and a big 3D concert finale. The premiere exhibit in London was touted as a wild success, and the US tour of the collection saw similar reviews. Let’s hope Sydney gets just
Read about The Book of Mormon's $40 ticket lottery. In 2011, when The Book of Mormon first opened in New York City, it was a risky bet. It’s notoriously difficult for original shows to survive on Broadway – roughly four out of five shows fail to turn a profit – and a parody of religious fervour, packed with anarchic, puerile humour, written by ‘the South Park guys’, Trey Parker and Matt Stone? Not a sure thing. Their co-writer, Robert Lopez, had won a Tony and a Grammy Award for his subversive puppet musical Avenue Q, but repeat success wasn’t guaranteed. But as we now know, it was an immediate hit. Not even celebrities were guaranteed tickets, and prices skyrocketed to meet demand. Its cast recording was the highest-charting musical album in over forty years, until Hamilton smashed all records. Its two lead actors – Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad – booked sitcoms and Disney movies. In the seven years since, Robert Lopez has not only won the EGOT (the full complement of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards) in the shortest amount of time for any recipient, he’s the only person in the world to EGOT twice. The show has toured all over the US, has a long-running production in the West End, and recently opened in Sweden. So is it worth all of the fuss? Does it still hold up in 2018? The answer is yes. We follow two young Mormon missionaries, Type-A Narcissist Elder Price (Ryan Bondy) and Elder Cunningham (AJ Holmes), a mess with a geeky streak, as they’re paired up for their tw
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If you’re programming a season of theatre and wanting to set yourself up for success, you could make a worse decision than to assemble three of the country’s most acclaimed stage actors (Pamela Rabe, Colin Friels and Toby Schmitz) under the direction of Australian acting royalty Judy Davis. You might also think it’s a safe bet to set them loose on a play by one of the most important dramatists to have ever lived (August Strindberg). And if you’ve got a set by Australia’s most influential theatrical designer (Brian Thomson), what could possibly go wrong? A fair bit, it turns out. Strindberg’s The Dance of Death follows an artillery captain, Edgar (Friels), and his retired actress wife, Alice (Rabe), as they engage in a ritualistic feud, trading verbal barbs and rubbing salt into each other’s wounds. They’ve been married for 25 years and have isolated themselves on a strange island – they refuse to use a telephone for fear of surveillance and receive all their communications via telegram – but their world of comfortable misery is rocked when Alice’s cousin, Kurt (Toby Schmitz), arrives on the scene. He can immediately sense that there’s something poisonous about their home – and it seems to be hemorrhaging staff – and fears he’ll be sucked in by it. That turns out to be a pretty accurate prediction. Strindberg wrote the play in 1900, but you can see in it the seed of a model of marital warfare that would be expanded upon in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,
While the animal inhabitants at the zoo are an impressive bunch, these school holidays they’ll be joined by a new, prehistoric crew. Ten life-size animatronic dinosaurs will join the herd at Taronga Zoo until February 3 on the Dino Trail. The whole family will get a thrill searching for the monstrous Tyrannosaurus Rex, the feisty Raptor, and the spitting Dilophosaurus. There’ll also be dinosaur talks presented twice a day and a dig for fossils running during the program. Access to the trail and all the paleontology fun is included in your entry ticket to the zoo.
Patrick White saw through all of our empty social kindness decades ago. His 1963 play A Cheery Soul, set in a fictional 1950s Sydney suburb that’s all repression and politeness, blows up all the myths we might have then possessed – and still possess even now – about the ways we treat each other. Miss Docker (Sarah Peirse) shuffles around Sarsaparilla with her sticky beak and overbearing opinions, always the first to put her hand up to help. In the play, the phrase “she’s such a cheery soul” has the razorblade shape backhand of a “bless your heart”: Miss Docker is suffocating her fellow residents with her helpfulness, smothering them with her suggestions, and has a habit of leaving a trail of distressed people in her wake. But she seems to mean well, from a distance, and it’s obvious that she’s lonely, and this is suburban Australia in the decades before we collectively decided we could studiously ignore our neighbours. So when Miss Docker loses her home, the proper, yearning Mrs Custance (Anita Hegh) thinks that she and her husband (Anthony Taufa) should offer their spare room to her. What follows tests the couple’s social conscience and, after some over-pruned tomato plants, a damaged roast and a range of disruptive habits that kills the Custance’s intimate life, Miss Docker is shuffled off to a retirement village. And that’s when things get gloriously weird. The ensemble of 11 play, with the exception of Peirse, shifting and varied roles – but most of them play the chor
Sydney’s most sustainable business-savvy folk are coming together to share advice about environmentalism with Sydney’s motivated business owners. The Taronga Institute of Science and Learning at Taronga Zoo will teach you how to save money while you make changes that reduce your environmental footprint, create positive impacts down your supply chains and develop networks that support the sustainability movement. Plastic is the prime villain in this story, and much of this workshop will focus on the detrimental effects of using and unsustainably disposing of plastics, as well as strategies to reverse its impacts. Besides keeping our oceans healthy and the cost savings, initiatives like Sydney bars and pubs scrubbing plastic straws from their menus and stores like Swop Clothing Exchange focusing on reusable retail provide a whole lot of goodwill and positive feedback from an ecologically aware public. The free two-hour talk is catered and also offers prizes and useful sustainablity packets at the door. You'll need to register to attend.
All hail Patricia Cornelius. After years of her work being ignored by the major companies, the no-fucks-given grand dame of Australian theatre is finally getting her moment in the sun. Darlinghurst Theatre Company presented Cornelius’ play Savages in 2014 and now they’re back with Love, which won her the Wal Cherry Award for Play of the Year in 2004. It’s an exploration of love in all its forms – platonic, sexual, destructive, life affirming - told through the shifting relationships between three young addicts on the skids. Directed by Rachel Chant (Bondi Feast), it stars Rose Riley, Anna Samson and Hoa Xuande.