Tag Archives: sydney

Kusama for $1000!


The annual MCA Bella Dinner will soon be held in Sydney.  An annual event, the dinner also hosts a prize draw which costs $1000 to enter, but entrants are guaranteed to win one of 30 fine contemporary pieces. This year they even have a Kusama in the mix (see below).

The Kusama is by far the most valuable piece – and a stunning work in its own right – but for sheer beauty,whimsy and originality, my favourite has to be the Lionel Bawden sculpture made from coloured Staedtler pencils (above).

You can view all the works here.  If you want to enter, you’d better be quick, as the draw is notorious for selling out before you can say “Bargain”.


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Posted by on August 7, 2009 in art, contemporary, looking


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Fergus Binns: Australian Summer


I’m feeling very unsettled lately and blame winter in Australia: it’s just not right.  We just don’t know how to have a proper winter, preferring to stay inside for three months rather than get out and forging anything that half resembles a winter culture.

Browsing through the Chalk Horse Gallery archives today I came across Fergus Binns, who captures some elements of that perfect Australian summer – ghastly shark attacks, long airport queues, and kitsch mass tourism.

Binns’ art is darkly humorous and its content seems like a typical night’s viewing of Channel 10 News, Today Tonight, or any other sensationalist news source that pollutes our summer airwaves.  The style used by Binns is simple, almost naive, which mirrors the state of mind our young nation.



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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in art, looking


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Urban Design Hall of Shame


So I’m in a bitchin kinda mood. And nothing makes me bitch more than lost opportunities and badly designed public spaces.  So I was pleased to come across the Project for Public Spaces, an international consortium dedicated to improving people’s lives through good urban design.

My favourite section of their website is the Hall of Shame, where PPS nominates the world’s most poorly designed spaces.  Some are obvious (Hong Kong Cultural Centre, NYC’s Astor Place – shown above – and Boeddeker Park in San Fran).  Others are controversial (Guggenheim Bilbao as an example of poor design, anyone?).

It doesn’t seem that PPS have visited Australia, save for some consulting work they are currently doing in Melbourne and Perth.  So here are my 10 most loathed public spaces in Sydney:

1. Circular Quay – for obvious reasons. A thundering expressway and railway line covering up one of Sydney’s most spectacular views.  Also for its excess of seagulls and faux-Aboriginal buskers.

2. Darling Harbour – a vast, kitsch wasteland, especially towards the southern end around the Entertainment Centre.  Isolated at night, and all those bricks are stiflingly hot during the day, even in the middle of winter.

3. Centennial Plaza – Sydney’s worst example of 80s office design – and there are a few contenders, believe me. A salmon-coloured, windswept monument to mediocrity that could have been so much more.

4. Railway Square – a glass-and-concrete island surrounded by a sea of bitumen and belching buses.  Especially fun in the rain, when the architecturally-designed shelters reveal how incredibly useless they really are.

5. Victoria Cross, North Sydney – so many cars, so few people, which probably has something to do with North Sydney’s obsession of burying buildings, including the Greenwood Plaza shopping centre.  Sydney has the best climate in the world, so why office workers would want to spend their lunchtimes in an underground food court is baffling.

6. Woolloomooloo Wharf – a temple to conspicuous consumption with overpriced restaurants frequented by over-botoxed and over-tanned patrons – sooo 2008;

7. Springfield Mall, Kings Cross – a needlessly blank space with a very dicey feel. And no, those neon pinwheels you erected a few years ago do not make me feel more safe.

8. Bondi Junction Mall – just dull. Really, really dull.  Suffocatingly dull.

9. Taylor Square, Darlinghurst – pissy fountains and – you’ve got it – more traffic. Especially vile on a Saturday and Sunday morning where locals congregate to ‘recover’;

10. Town Hall – One of Sydney’s finest buildings has been surrounded by the most frightful building material known to man – pebblecrete.


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Posted by on June 9, 2009 in building, urban design


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Smart Light Sydney


I’ve been seeing a lot of strange constructions around Sydney over the past few weeks.  They seemed to consist of fibre-optic cabling, plastic cups, and the odd fake animal.  It was only when walking home last night that I realised that all that work had culminated in a spectacular light show put on by The City of Sydney.

Welcome to Smart Light Sydney, a festival of installation-art around Sydney’s city centre.  Legendary British artist Brian Emo’s spectacular lighting of the Sydney Opera House is the main event, but I quite like the Argyle Cut scene by German artist Ingo Bracke, shown above, as well as the oh-so-sydney Weather Projection by Alex Haw. Check out the excellent gallery at for more.




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Posted by on June 4, 2009 in art, contemporary, looking, urban design


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Kevin Connor Paints Australia

Kings Cross Dawn

For some reason, Australia – Sydney in particular – seems very difficult to be artistically portrayed.  It either looks boring and provincial, or as cliched as a Ken Done poster.  Only a select few artists seem to be able to step beyond the norm and portray the ‘real’ Australia, rather than someone’s interpretation.  Think John Brack and Jeffrey Smart, who both display themes of banality and routine, as well as a certain ‘sense of emergence’ so prevalent in a nation as young as ours.

Kevin Connor is another artist who cuts through the mirage to reveal the true Australia.  In Kings Cross at Dawn (above), one can just make out the outline of the Coca-Cola sign, and the ubiquitous grubby footpath. Circular Quay (below) portrays the frenzy that commuters, buskers, tourists and pigeons bring to the area.  Scale and proportion are deliberately exaggerated, with grotesque figures contrasting with miniature landmarks.  The works are huge, over 3m wide and 2m high, which gives them an expressive authority.

Connor is currently exhibiting at Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney.

circular quay

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Posted by on May 28, 2009 in art, looking


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The Sartorialist


Everyone’s talking about The Sartorialist.  This fashion blogger also writes for GQ and has been spending quite a bit of time in Sydney and Melbourne of late. Time Magazine described him as one of their top 100 design influencers.

Sometimes I like the fashions profiled; other times I’m not so sure. Mostly I just enjoy his simple portrait style and eye for colour.  Oh, and if the kid at the top doesn’t make you melt, go home and skin some more dalmations, why don’t you?



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Posted by on May 17, 2009 in clicking, wearing


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Andrew Coomer: Boat House


Oh, to be beside the seaside.

This gorgeous property is at Broken Bay, only an hour north of Sydney.  Architect Andrew Coomer designed this cute little weekender-cum-boathouse-cum-studio on a steep, absolute waterfront site, using zinc, blackbutt and concrete which will age and weather with time.  Accessible only by boat, it is a simple one-room construction where the owners can while away a few hours or an entire weekend.

Just looking at these pictures is the perfect start to a cold Monday morning…

coomer boathouse1



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Posted by on May 11, 2009 in architecture, building


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