Sydney: an artistic guide
January 1, 1970
For the art lovers who want to do more than wander through an empty gallery, here are some must-see art events in Sydney, Australia, tested out by me just for you, with personalised tips to make sure you make the best of your time in this vast, bustling city.
World press photo (21st May – 19th June 2016)
Location: State Library of NSW, Macquarie St, Sydney
Time Required: half an hour – a day!
How to get there: train or bus, driving is not recommended as parking is expensive and sparse
Monday –Wednesday: 9 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 9 am – 8 pm
Friday: 9 am – 5 pm
Weekends: 10 am – 5 pm
The World Press Photo is an exhibit at the State Library of New South Wales, sponsored by Canon, which presents journalistic photography of the past year’s world events. Each year I go out of my way to ensure I see this exhibition as it is truly moving, with each image unique in itself, in both style and location.
The winner of the 2015 competition was an image by Australian photographer Warren Richardson, depicting a baby being passed through a fence at the Serbia-Hungary border. It’s an incredible image, lit solely by moonlight taking place after a wild goose-chase with the police.
The dedication of journalists is so evidently shown in these photographs as they plunge themselves into life-threatening situations to tell the rest of the world about the horrors they have seen.
This exhibit inspired me to begin photography, and so I cannot highlight enough how unforgettable and worthwhile this art event is.
Whether you’re a photographer, artist or simply an admirer of photographic journalism, this is an event you should not miss.
If you get bored, or come to Sydney when the exhibit isn’t up-and-running, there are lots of other events happening throughout the library that you can check out.
Here’s a link to the state library website.
The Biennale of Sydney (18th March – 5th June 2016)
Time Required: you can spend as long as you please – even camp out on Cockatoo Island if you love it that much!
How to get there: Walk to most locations, or catch Public Transport
The Biennale is one of Sydney’s most famous art events, with 19 separate exhibits flowing through the heart of the city, depicting postmodern and cultural displays of hundreds of artistic contributions.
I first visited this exhibit in 2012 with my school art class, and have been making time to see it ever since. It’s interactive for those who wish to participate, and for those who don’t, there’s plenty of solely visual works to admire. I still remember being sprayed with giant walls of mist as my classmates and I ran circles to drench ourselves under this obscure work of art.
It is what you make of it, of course, but I can say I have never been bored on any of my visits.
My favourite location of the many is that of Cockatoo Island, located in the heart of Sydney Harbour. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this island once housed those convicts overflowing from the mainland during Australia’s early settlement. It was also a major location where convict labouring took place, whereby large machinery and workhouses were built to manufacture goods at the time. It’s an amazing historic island that’s definitely worth the short ferry ride across. You can also get guided tours on the island if you want to learn more about it’s origins. What the island already has to offer is far exemplified by the amazing artworks during the Biennale exhibit.
You can look at all the different parts of the exhibit here.
The website with all further information is: https://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/
Sculpture By the Sea (20th October – 6th November)
Location: Coastal walk between Bondi and Tamarama Beach
Time Required: make a day of it! (you don’t have to, but it’s worth it)
How to get there: take a bus to Bondi – PARKING IS A NIGHTMARE so avoid at all costs
If you’re coming to Sydney for any reason, you should go to Bondi Beach regardless of this event. It’s the go-to tourist beach and worth the crowds of people. With a swimming pool as well as the large stretch of beach, it’s suitable for all ages – just stay between the flags!
Back to business – Sculpture by the Sea is a huge yearly event whereby a series of artists create installation pieces within the landscape stretching between Bondi and Tamarama Beach. Giant mirrors, glistening glass works and cascading ceramic sculptures cover the beautiful cliff faces, each discussing individual concepts to the passers-by.
I have visited this event a few times over the past couple of years, and I firstly have some TIPS for those choosing to go for the first time.
- Go early in the morning. I don’t care if you’re not a morning person, its so much better in the earlier hours. Grab a coffee at the café on Tamarama beach, and walk the stretch with a bacon and egg roll (or whatever your breakfast preference may be). There are hardly any crowds if you go before 10am, otherwise it kills the serene beach vibes when you can barely see the sculpture without 20 people in front of you. This picture was taken at around 9:30am so you can get an idea of the amount of people that there are:
- Queues can get pretty crazy for food around there so I usually bring food from home to snack on rather than trying to find somewhere for lunch.
- As I mentioned before, don’t drive there if you can help it. Unless you are planning on getting there at 6am before a soul has woken then you are going to have to walk a mile from any available park you can find. At the end of the coastal walk you will be tired, and there’s nothing worse than realising you have to walk another 2km to get to your parking spot. Also, parking gives you a time limit and you don’t want to feel rushed if you’re parked in a 2-hour zone.
If you follow those tips you should have a great time, which I always do.
It’s different every year so don’t feel as though you shouldn’t visit just because you have been there before. Also don’t miss out on the sculptures on Tamarama Beach – it’s worth the stairs down there as these are often the big, interactive works.
Tell me about your own experience in the comments below! Let me know if I’m missing anything important or you need to know a little more information.