Around the Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales sits within a breathtakingly beautiful and cultural part of Sydney. The Royal Botanic Garden, the State Library of New South Wales, historic Hyde Park Barracks and Mint, the Australian Museum and the Museum of Sydney are all within walking distance. The world-famous Sydney Opera House, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023 with a year-long festival of events and experiences, can be reached via a 20-minute stroll through The Royal Botanic Garden. For visitors who enjoy staying fit on holidays, the picturesque Andrew (Boy) Charlton swimming pool is located just 10 minutes’ harbourside walk from the gallery.
Another attraction within walking distance is the National Art School. NAS is a great place to go for a flavour of Australian art as it is practised today. NAS Galleries, the school’s on-site exhibition space, offers a robust roster of exhibitions. In 2021 the school inaugurated its National Centre for Drawing with a homage exhibition of work by Sydney centenarian, Guy Warren. NAS occupies the former Darlinghurst Gaol whose sandstone buildings once housed various bushrangers and, briefly, the famous Australian poet and writer Henry Lawson. Book into a special tour of the site including the historic Cell Block Theatre, the Chapel, the old Governor’s residence, the morgue and the site of the former gallows.
NAS: 156 Forbes Street, nas.edu.au
Yananurala (Walking on Country) signposted walk
Visitors to Sydney can engage more readily with the city’s long Indigenous history thanks to a recent initiative called Yananurala (Walking on Country). It is a Sydney Harbour foreshore walk where 11 key Indigenous historical sites are marked— or you can consult the Yananurala map on the City of Sydney’s Culture Walks app. Walkers can learn about Tara (the Indigenous language word for Dawes Point), where conversations between Patyegarang, a Gadigal woman, and Lieutenant William Dawes began. Dawes’s diaries have become central to the preservation of Aboriginal language in Sydney.
From Manly to Penrith
Sydney’s vibrant and hard-working suburban art galleries often have some of the most interesting exhibitions in town. Manly Art Gallery and Museum is two minutes’ walk along the esplanade from Manly Wharf. The gallery will celebrate Sydney’s much-loved harbour transport in the exhibition Manly by Ferry: Treasures from the Vault (9 December-26 February 2023). Mosman Art Gallery, Penrith Regional Gallery, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (pictured) and Hazelhurst Arts Centre are among the other suburban galleries offering varied exhibitions, cafés, gift shops and a close-up look at Australian art.
Musuems & Galleries of NSW: mgnsw.org.au
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australian (MCA) opened in 1991 in a former maritime building with a dress-circle location on Sydney Harbour’s stunning Circular Quay. But the MCA is much more than a pretty face. It is one of the go-to destinations for contemporary art in Sydney. The MCA has curated major solo exhibitions of such international stars as Doug Aitken, Cornelia Parker, David Goldblatt, Pipilotti Rist, Kader Attia, Grayson Perry, Chuck Close and Anish Kapoor. For the Australian summer season this year, the MCA will present a major exhibition of installations, sculptures, drawings, prints and videos by South Korean artist Do Ho Suh (until 26 February).
Australian contemporary art also finds a generous home at the MCA. For a peek at the ranks of up-and-coming Australian talent, you cannot beat the annual Primavera exhibition for artists under 35 years old (until 12 February 2023). Indigenous art is also ever-present at the MCA. Visitors this summer will see Yirrkala Prints (from 17 November), a presentation of collagraphs by six senior Yolngu artists from the Northern Territory.
140 George Street, mca.com.au
This bustling arts centre occupies the former railway yards in the Eveleigh area. Here, the hulking industrial past holds hands with contemporary art exhibitions and performances of modern dance and theatre. The site also hosts Carriageworks Farmers Market every Saturday morning, with fresh produce of all kinds.
245 Wilson Street, carriageworks.com.au
S.H. Ervin Gallery
The National Trust’s S.H. Ervin Gallery occupies an historic sandstone building at the top of Observatory Hill at The Rocks and is literally a stone’s throw from the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The gallery’s next exhibition is Spowers & Syme (3 December-12 February 2023), which celebrates the artistic friendship of Melbourne Moderns Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme, who came from rival Australian media dynasties. Today the women are renowned for their linocuts and woodcuts of the 1930s and 40s. While you are there, check out the spectacular views across Darling Harbour from Observatory Hill. Do not forget the gallery’s cafe, where there is usually a small selection of hand-crafted ceramics for sale.
Watson Road, Observatory Hill,
White Rabbit Gallery
Chinese contemporary art found a welcoming and abundant home in Sydney in 2009 when arts patron Judith Neilson established her White Rabbit Gallery in the inner-city suburb of Chippendale. In the 1990s Neilson fell in love with Chinese contemporary art and began to collect it with a discerning eye for quality. Neilson wanted as many people as possible to enjoy her collection, so she bought a former Rolls-Royce service depot and engaged an architect to transform it into an elegant, multi-storey space where tightly curated exhibitions are drawn from her 2,000-strong collection. Finish your visit to White Rabbit with dumplings in the gallery’s Tea House on the ground floor of the building.
30 Balfour Street, whiterabbitcollection.org
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