Free things to do today
Comedians Jamie Kirk and Ben Kochan host this open mic room, previously called POS Comedy; but it's still a space for comics to try new material and develop their craft in an intimate room (40 max audience). Comics have up to 4 minutes per set, and can sign up on the Cactus Juice facebook page from noon on Mondays. The show starts at 8pm, and includes two feature acts and a support doing longer sets.
If you don’t want to venture to Auburn for the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Botanic Gardens, you can still celebrate the blooming buds in World Square from August 13-26. The main difference here is that you can play with the cherry blossom via an immersive augmented reality experience. Unfortunately, there won’t be any real cherry blossoms to interact with, but there will be plenty of treats on offer, including limited edition cherry blossom themed desserts from cafe Oh!Matcha and cherry cocktails courtesy of World Square favourites Laughing Buddha Bar and the Bavarian. If you’re in the mood for a feast, Fratelli Famous Pizzeria has been putting together Japanese inspired pizzas for you to sample throughout the festival. Teriyaki, anyone? Other activities include origami workshops, calligraphy performance and martial art displays. We can’t forget the silent cinema, which is where you can watch free screenings of Japanese-inspired films on Thursday and Friday nights. And, best of all, it’s all free.
Bark painting is among the most recognisable Aboriginal art, but you mightn’t know that it was only popularised in the 1930s. Until then, the familiar imagery was used as body paint and in caves. Occasionally the patterns were painted onto bark as a record of the designs, but it’s only relatively recently that the bark has been considered its own canvas. One of the greatest exponents of bark painting – and one of the greatest exponents of Aboriginal art in general – is John Mawurndjul, who rose to international fame in the late 1980s and ‘90s. The Kuninjku artist, based in Arnhem Land, is getting a major career retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, made up of 165 works. They’ll take over the third level of the MCA this winter, the same space where English artist and provocateur Grayson Perry presented a blockbuster show in 2015. At the time, Perry sparked debate when he controversially said Aboriginal art should not be considered contemporary art. Clothilde Bullen, one of the curators behind Mawurndjul’s exhibition and a Wardandi (Nyoongar) Aboriginal woman, strongly disagrees. “I think all Aboriginal art being made here and now is contemporary, and I’d absolutely stand by that,” she says. “But it’s OK that [Perry] is given the opportunity to say those things at the MCA, and we have this kind of rebuttal.” Not only is Mawurndjul one of the major pioneers of the bark medium, he has evolved and pushed traditional practices, like rarrk, which refers to a close an
At the centre of Laka, an artistic collaboration between S. Shakthidharan and Rosalee Pearson, is a feature-length film telling the story of Lily, a Yolngu woman from the Northern Territory, and her husband Siddhartha, a Sri Lankan Australian. The pair are preparing for the birth of their first child when they reach a crossroad and Lily has to make a decision between her family and country. But the film is part of a bigger exhibition that draws in sound and video installation as well as a virtual reality film that finds commonalities between the social structures and spirituality in Yolngu and Hindu culture. Those commonalities might seem surprising, but scientists have discovered DNA matches between First Nations Australians and South Asians from 4,000 years ago, suggesting a system of travel may have existed between the two regions.
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).
Plenty of Sydney art lovers would've discovered the work of Sun Xun this year at White Rabbit's latest exhibition, which features a full floor of work by the Chinese artist, called 'The Republic of Jing Bang'. That work featured a hell of a lot of paintings and drawings splashed across the gallery's walls, but for those wanting to get even better acquainted with the artist's output, the Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting his first solo Australian exhibition. Visitors can see several of his animations, meticulously created with thousands of handmade woodcuts, ink paintings and drawings. He's also making a brand new work for the exhibition: a 40-metre long painting on bark paper and woodcuts. The artist's work is boldly graphic and at once political and personal. Through many of his pieces, he explores the disparity between official histories and personal recollection.
If you’ve ever walked the halls of the Art Gallery of NSW and smelt the scents of cumin, turmeric, paprika and cloves wafting towards you, you’ll be familiar with Ernesto Neto’s huge stalactite-like art installation 'Just like drops in time, nothing'. Neto’s creation, alongside those by seven other contemporary installation artists, is on show as part of the gallery’s new exhibition Spacemakers and Roomshakers, which brings together works that create an immersive experience. As well as Neto’s work, watch out for British artist Phyllida Barlow’s colossal 'untitled:brokenupturnedhouse' and Nike Savvas's 'Atomic: full of love, full of wonder', which features thousands of vibrating coloured balls.
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
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.
Free things to do on any given day
If you live in Sydney, a three-hour walking tour around the CBD may sound like a chore rather than a fun thing to do on your day off. But if you have visitors in town, this is a free way to check off many of the city’s historical sites in one go – and there’s a fact-filled guide to do all the talking.
The secret maybe well and truly out about this hidden garden, but it really is heart-warming story and a space worth sharing.
Load up the picnic basket and take a road trip to find these cascading falls around Sydney.
Got a wriggly little one? Let them run off some of that energy at these parks and playgrounds.
OK, so the drinks aren't free – but the karaoke is!
It's less than an hour's drive from the CBD, yet so many Sydneysiders haven't stepped foot in the pristine 15,091 hectares of bushland that lines the coast south of Sydney.
Take yourself on a free tour of Sydney's public art
It’s (mostly) good for the eyes, good for the soul, and improves even the most uninviting locations. We thought we’d share some of our favourite public art works in Sydney.