Free things to do today
Emily McDaniel, from from the Kalari Clan of the Wiradjuri nation, is one of the busiest young curators working in Sydney at the moment. For this exhibition at UTS Gallery, she's pulling together works from a diverse range of Aboriginal contemporary artists across drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, video and photography, all looking into “the void”. There are artists that are relative newcomers, joining with elders with extraordinary careers in art. “Art is defined as much by what it is, as what it isn't,” McDaniel says. “Artists express what we don't have words for and that's certainly what you’ll find with the Indigenous artists that have been included in this exhibition. Indigenous artists are innovative, constantly changing and finding new ways to articulate old ways... The challenge that I come across so often with working with audiences in creating experiences around contemporary Aboriginal art is breaking free of the expectation of consistency.” The line-up of artists includes: Hayley Millar-Baker, Danièle Hromek, Jonathan Jones, Mabel Juli, John Mawurndjul AM, Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher AO, Andy Snelgar, James Tylor, Jennifer Wurrkidj and Josephine Wurrkidj.
The grass is always greener when there's a pop-up gin bar on it, and that's exactly what's going down on the Chiswick lawn. Farm to table restaurant Chiswick is hosting a gin focused party in the garden at their Woollahra venue every Wednesday this November. From 5.30-7.30pm, the sprawling lawn will be transformed into a breezy, outdoor gin house where you can play lawn bowls or bocce will you sip a G&T. If you’re not into Tom Collins’ or dry gin Martinis, there’ll also be a booth pouring 4 Pines pale ale and a housemade lemonade stand serving zesty booze-free options. To keep you fortified for an intense round of garden games, they’ll also be offering free canapés throughout the two-hour gin fest. You’ll have to vacate the lawn once the party wraps up, but luckily they’re serving some top dishes from Mat Moran’s tome of recipes that he shares across his many highly acclaimed Sydney restaurants. Plus, the whole bar is being reserved for an after-party celebration. Probably with more gin.
One of the best free things to do in Sydney is to see a movie at the Art Gallery of NSW. They offer year-round programs of screenings in support of their major exhibitions and they are always impeccably curated. Rare, odd and astonishing classics screen there routinely. The films screen on Wednesdays and Sundays in the comfortable Domain Theatre, down at the bottom of the building, and it’s recommended that you book your seat online, as they often fill up. To accompany the Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage exhibition they are presenting Cosmic Futures, a series of visionary Russian movies including works by the great Andrei Tarkovsky. Nobody does existential gloom quite like the Russians, and the movies on offer are some of the most powerful ever made. The films are free, except for the opening film on Sunday November 4: a special screening of the first Soviet sci-fi film, Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924), accompanied by a newly commissioned live score by acclaimed Sydney electronic artist, Lucy Cliché. Tickets are $12-$15. Aelita concerns a lowly Soviet worker who travels to Mars and leads a proletarian revolution; the film influenced the Fritz Lang film Metropolis. Tarkovsky (who died in 1986) is cinema’s metaphysical master, whose mesmerising work spawned an adjective, ‘Tarkovskian’. The gallery is screening three of his greatest films: Stalker (1979), in which a writer, a professor and their guide enter the ‘Forbidden Zone’, a desolate wasteland, to find the my
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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.
When Time Out has visitors in town this is the hands-down first thing that we recommend they do. It’s a six-kilometre stretch of coastline so most walk from Bondi to Bronte and call it a day, but beyond that is where the walk gets really interesting.
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.