The Big Anxiety

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The Big Anxiety

Photo: The Japanese Foundation

Photo: The Japanese Foundation

Written by Melanie Booth

A new innovative festival combining interactive visual arts and mental health projects is coming to Sydney. From the 20th September to the 11th November, The Big Anxiety will host over sixty events across Sydney involving artists, scientists and communities to discuss and examine the state of mental health in the twenty-first century.

Designed to promote awareness and inspire action through a series of highly interactive, diverse projects, the festival aims to encourage the audience to learn about mental health. The Big Anxiety is an initiative of UNSW Sydney in association with the Black Dog Institute and over 25 partners in the cultural, education and health sectors.

The projects are categorised into approachable, thought-provoking topics. Here are a couple of top picks that Culture Scouts & Art Pharmacy are excited for:

“Eco-Anxiety: Holding a Deep Breath” considers the uncertainty and Eco-Anxiety in the Anthropocene works of contemporary Japanese and Australian artists and designers, presented by the Japanese Foundation.

Eco-anxiety refers to people who worry about the current and future state of the environment to the point where an anxiety response is triggered. This project by looks at ways in which this issue is projected and dealt with within works of art.

Deep” will involve an interactive meditative VR experience designed to bring calm and awareness to the audience.

The immersive 3-D experience is devised to react to your breathing, the surrounding virtual landscape altering upon inhalation and exhalation.

The “Power and Institution” collection explores how we perceive personal dysfunctions in relation to dysfunctions within the larger societal system. The project brings into question the larger classification system of mental health and questions whether disorders can be of a person or the system which they are part of.

The workshop will engage with ideas of soulless institutions, toxic workplaces and systemic abuse.

For more information on all the projects, and to create your own personalised program, see The Big Anxiety website

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Art That Highlights: #WeLiveHere2017

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Art That Highlights: #WeLiveHere2017

As Sydney Contemporary 2017 settles down after a five day whirlwind art affair, it is interesting to think what the lasting effects of the art fair will be. What will crowds remember this year?

There are many candidates. The installation, ‘Red Room’, by Hiromi Tango; a scarlet installation room bursting with tactility, and aimed at children. Richard Lewer’s ‘Confessions’: a wall dedicated to everyday confessions such as “I’ve yelled at telemarketers.” Can Xin performance ‘Art Speaks in Tongues’ - where the artist licked objects given to him by a fascinated crowd as a means of artistic expression.

But for us at Art Pharmacy and Culture Scouts, the artwork of choice will definitely be the socially poignant installation, #WeLiveHere2017.

The installation is on a massive scale, just up the road from our gallery, and seen from the Redfern Station platform. Residents of the Matavai & Turanga Towers were issued with a coloured light, which they used in their windows. Instead of hiding away unnoticed, the tall buildings and their residents are now accentuated in the cityscape by the flickering and changing coloured lights.

The overall effect is startling and beautiful; with the multi-patterned glow transforming these omnipresent Redfern buildings.

“The lights are on. Somebody’s home.”

Residents of the Waterloo public housing are no stranger to uncertainty, with plans to demolish the estate for new housing on the cards, meaning current residents may have to move away.

This artwork serves as a reminder to the city - a “highlight(ing of) their presence”.

So take a wander over there - you can see the lights nightly until 1 October.

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Muralist Miguel Gonzalez AKA M-LON Talks Progressive Art

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Muralist Miguel Gonzalez AKA M-LON Talks Progressive Art

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Written by Jennifer Hesketh AKA Quirky Bones

Miguel Gonzalez (AKA M-LON), an artist originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is now based in Sydney. An artist whose art is inspired from his Venezuelan home. His pop surrealism flare is creating talk among interior designers wanting to add colour, depth and meaning in the home.

While Miguel's most famous work is in creating stunning outdoor murals, his work can be regularly found throughout various parts of NSW and his artworks are currently being displayed at Sydney Road Gallery within an exhibition called 'Home'.

Firstly, talk us through the process of producing one of your murals
I take murals as a collaboration project. When I get approached to create a mural, I first ask for a small brief (if there is one), then I research about the place, social / economical background, local fauna, lifestyle. Then I come up with ideas which allows me to be able to say what I need to say through a story; this usually come from the brief itself (these are often the blueprints of a building). Once the image is accepted I take it to the wall. Painting the mural is like the construction phase of the project; in which I always cross my fingers that the building looks like the sketch or way better, which will allow me to step away from the wall and  be able to see the whole image.

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When creating a public work, what stories are you trying to tell? and does this vary depending on the location of the piece?
Yes, they all depend on the location basically, I look for local stories, facts, events, dates, fauna; so I can then use some of these, as codes or metaphors that I could then link to any world event that is happening or happened recently, this may be environmental, social or political.

Public art is a symbol of a progressive city. What does this mean for you as a artist?
Progression means - it means more opportunities.To be accepted as an important value in society and in history; to earn a living out of it; to say something and be heard by creating awareness;  to make any surrounding an element of speech, beauty and fun. It means more opportunities to continue doing more of what we love

At the beginning of the year the council has recommended a change to its local government environment plan allowing murals and artworks to be produced without need for council approval. How does this big change transform your practice when you approach making a public work?
In my case, living in a part of Sydney that is not very recognised for its street or urban art, this new law hasn't affected me that much. I guess we as urban artists here have a first purpose to "educate" the community with this matter, so then they let artists paint on their walls.

Apart from improving the public domain/ community and creating an interesting streetscape, street art brings personal stories into view - What connections have you found that have been made throughout your public work?
I'd like to say that I have connected with a bunch of amazing artists that I have admired and respected for years, and then suddenly I find myself painting with them. It's given me the opportunity to meet incredible people, all sorts of it, from the most executive all the way to the "hippiest" ones.

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Melbourne Walking Tours: Art Pharmacy X Caydon X Culture Scouts

Photo credit: The Age

Photo credit: The Age

Art Pharmacy Consulting are heading to Melbourne! Partnering with its sister company, Culture Scouts, Art Pharmacy Consulting is working with Caydon Properties to reintroduce Cremorne as the exciting artistic hub that it is.

Featured by The Urban List: Melbourne as one of the ‘16 Awesome Things to do in Melbourne this Weekend’, Culture Scouts will be showing curious walkers around the new Malt District:

The Urban List: “If you don't live or work in Cremorne, it's likely that the suburb doesn't even exist to you. It's one of Melbourne's greatest hidden treasures, often overshadowed by its cool big brother, Richmond. But thanks to a partnership between Culture Scouts and The Malt District, you've got the chance to explore the suburb and check out its art, design and culinary scene … You even get to visit Melbourne's iconic Nylex Clock...”

The tour will include a scouting of Cremorne’s cult cafes and foodie hot spots, street art including works by the infamous Lushsux, meetings with local artisans and artists, as well as an insight into Cremorne’s diverse history. Led by guides sharing their diverse knowledge of the area, these tours will blend art, food and history through conversation and exploration.

Where: Starts at 8 Gough Street, Cremorne
When: Every Saturday until September 9, 2pm - 4pm
For more info, click here.

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107 Projects Take A Peak: ‘Undergarments’

Culture Scouts feature written by Melanie Booth

Undergarments, a show at 107 Projects curated by Andriana Carney and Ellen.gif explores controversial themes of sexuality, gender and the ever shifting boundaries between public and private realms within the age of the internet. Featuring a selection of local and international emerging artists the exhibition allows a space for viewers to explore these topics of which are often considered taboo.

With the drastic increase in usage of the internet and social media in the twenty-first century, varied perspectives on these comprehensive subjects as well as personal experiences are able to be shared more freely on various virtual platforms. Similarly, ‘Undergarments’ aspires to create a space where the artists can freely share their opinions and experiences in the hope to inspire conversation and reflection among the audience.

Xanthe Dobbie, 21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack (2017), web installation, dimensions variable. (Image credit: Xanthe Dobbie)

Xanthe Dobbie, 21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack (2017), web installation, dimensions variable. (Image credit: Xanthe Dobbie)

Culture Scouts writer, Melanie Booth, sat down with the two curators to get the story.

Is "undergarments" the name of the exhibition or is it a collective you've founded?
Andriana: About a year ago, Ellen and I talked about ‘undergarments’ and underwear in the everyday. We liked the idea of Undergarments as both a loaded and inclusive concept.
As millennials figuring out our own concerns with gender and sexuality we thought it would suit both the name of the show and act as a conceptual springboard for a variety of artists to respond to.
Ellen.gif: A collective sounds fun though! I think there is much more within this theme to be explored.

Is there a general theme shared between the artworks? Were the artists given a topic for inspiration?
A: The general themes we asked the exhibiting artists to respond to were intimacy, private and public spaces, gender and sexuality. As well as how these coexist in the Post internet era. We got a great variety of responses!
E: We really wanted to provide themes that were inclusive and open for interpretation. Rather than focusing on just the physicality of ‘undergarments’ we were interested in work that responded to these themes in a broader sense.

What does this theme mean to you and why do you think it is an important one to explore?
A: It was definitely really important seeing how the artists responded to the themes of the show. I think following the install and opening of the show we both saw that Undergarments had progressed far beyond our initial thematic concerns.
E: We were also aware that theories on gender and sexuality are ever changing. The Western world has, in some ways, become more accepting and aware of gender politics. However, there is still so much work to be done. More art to be made! More inequalities to be fought head on, more marginalised groups to be heard!

Did you feel it was important to present a variety of ideas and perspectives surrounding the general theme?
A: We really did! It was important for us to have a show that represented intergenerational experiences, queerness, and the intersection of feminine/masculine gender experiences.
Damiano Dentice’s video work BRATZROCKANGELZ: cam-gurl confessions & bedrrrm aesthetics 2015, brought up new insights on sex work, noting the private and public worlds of sex work online.
Whereas Clancy Gibson’s sculptural installation Hung out to Dry, 2017 spoke to intimacy in the everyday, exploring how dated modes of gender inform our day-to-day choices.
E: Sarah Woodward’s Cycle 2017 addressed sexuality and moon cups through crocheted installation. Xanthe Dobbie’s 21st Century Greatest Hits Screensaver Pack (2017) explores cultural nostalgia, doing so while addressing themes of sexuality and loss of innocence.
Faith Holland’s web installation VVVVVV (2011-2013) speaks to the private and public spaces online and in our post-porn age.

Was it a conscious decision to select artists that work with a range of mediums/styles?
A: It was important to us from the beginning to have a show that encompassed both of our interests in art-making. As a craft-based artist, I was excited to have a lot of textile and sculpture work in the show. Sam Lopez, Sarah Woodward and Carla Adams all explored the politics of cloth, still highlighting experiences of living in the Post internet era.
E: We sought after a variety of mediums and styles for the show. I was particularly interested in the web installation model and how viewers interact with these works in a gallery space. In Xanthe Dobbie and Faith Holland’s web installations, use of headphones and single chairs encouraged patrons to interact with these works individually, creating a new kind of intimacy.
A: Carla Adams’ weaving Dion (you only hate men because you are fat) (2017) was a great bridge in our show in that Adams’ utilises her textile practice as commentary on online dating.

How did you source and select the artists to exhibit?
E: We sourced artists from an open callout on Facebook groups and through direct messaging on Instagram. Some of the works shown were created especially for Undergarments as well.

Are most of the artists local?
E: Most of the artists were international or interstate, Because of this, we had more creative freedom as we had to install most of the works ourselves.
A: We did have a fair amount of local artists too! BK Dieci, Clancy Gibson, Damiano Dentice, Hal Timothy Yarran, Sarah Woodward, Sophie Joyce and Tors Davis are all Sydney based artists.

How did you find the process of organising the exhibition as an art student?
A: I feel that artists and art students make natural curators in that we know what it's like to be exhibiting artists on the other side!
E: It was fun! I think when studying it is important to apply for shows and/or work on outside projects so it is easier when you graduate.

Was it predominantly your curatorial efforts or did the other artists contribute to the show's organisation?
A: Predominantly our curatorial efforts, but we asked for detailed instructions for installing works. We also asked Bethan Cotterill and Elyse Goldfinch to write essays about work and themes they responded to.
E: We were really interested in their initial interpretations, and felt that their written responses would echo that of patrons entering the show.

Carla Adams, Dion (you only hate men because you are fat), 2017. Polycord, Acrylic Yarn, Cotton, Acrylic Yarn, Plastic Gems. (Image credit: Carla Adams)

Carla Adams, Dion (you only hate men because you are fat), 2017. Polycord, Acrylic Yarn, Cotton, Acrylic Yarn, Plastic Gems. (Image credit: Carla Adams)

(Image credit: Nicole Ruggiero)

(Image credit: Nicole Ruggiero)

For information about the exhibition and to view a catalogue of all the works displayed visit their website:

http://undergarments.work/
Undergarments
Open until 14 August 2017
107 Projects
107 Redfern St, Redfern NSW 2016

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Practical Tips From Street Artists: MAN.De / Mandy Schöne-Salter

Part 2 of our practical street artist guide

Perfect Match (ie Christmas for Culture Scouts) is back. As if by magic, Inner West walls are bedecked with a whole new array of new street art. But the actual creation is not that easy. How do you start? Do you need permission? What is the best glue for paste ups? What do you do if you get heckled?

With the help of Australian muralists, Culture Scouts has put together a practical ‘Perfect Match’ guide. Here’s Part 2 with MAN.De.

MAN.De (Mandy Schoene-Salter)
MAN.De is an interdisciplinary artist working in street art, public art installations, photography and community art. MAN.De. has worked on multiple street art projects in Australia and Germany, winning multiple prizes and being featured in OZ Arts Magazine, Street Art Australia by Lou Chamberlin and Photo Review Magazine.

How to make glue for the paste ups - what works best?
There are lots of instructions on how to make paste up glue online and they are all good to use. Basically it is wheat flour and water cooked up to a paste.

What sort of paper works best for paste ups?
The thinner the paper the better. Just imagine to glue a piece of cardboard on the wall … that is not going to last very long.

Is it possible to graffiti proof?
I have tried that in the past and it can work and it also can't. The life of a paste up is not very long because it is an ephemeral medium. Anti graffiti coating is quite expensive and not really worth the money.

How long do paste ups last?
Now that really depends on where the paste up is placed, is it under cover or is it facing north... I have had paste ups that lasted between two weeks and two years.

Painting on paste ups versus printing on them?
I prefer printing but painting on the paper is fine too. You just have to use high quality paints otherwise it will fade very quickly.

What are common hurdles you might not expect when creating a mural - ie. cement can be very porous?
I have found that every wall is different and it is worth visiting the site before you start a mural, to see what paint you should use. That of course is not always possible when you have to travel far to paint. Once I had a wall of red brick with large grooves between the bricks and that was my most challenging commission ever. No paste up or roller will work on that wall only spray paint.

House paint, spray paint or acrylic paint - what’s the difference for murals?
Because you are using a lot of paint, either use house paint or spray paint. That is definitely the cheaper option although I am tending more and more to solar guard house paint as the colours stay fresh for longer.

How can I keep the costs down for paint?
That depends on your colour palette. Keep it simple and limit yourself to around five different colours!

How much should I be paid for a mural when I’m starting out?
This is always a difficult question to answer. I have started out working for free, which means materials were paid but not my time. Once I had the confidence to do paid projects I just took what was offered to me. But in terms of payment, this also depends on the size of the wall and if you need to hire a scissor lift.

What are the essential materials that you shouldn’t forget when creating a mural?
Drop sheet, high vis vest, ladder, masking tape, rubber gloves and loads of good vibes ... sometimes you spend more time talking to the locals than creating your work.

Rollers or brushes - what different technique do they achieve?
Both are good, rollers for larger areas and brushes for details.

The best heckle I ever got from an onlooker was?
I had a guy come once, down in Penrith, telling me that I was painting his wall and asking why I was doing this. He said that he always wanted to paint that particular wall. Then he tried to bargain with me to give him a section of the wall that he could paint  ... classic.

Why, despite all this, is it still worthwhile to be a street artist?
Yes, it is hard work physically and mentally being out in public and even being abused sometimes, but I love doing it because it is still art for the people. Not everyone goes to an art gallery or can afford art in their house. Street Art is a good way of bringing the art to the people, if they like it or not.

What I wished someone told me before creating my first mural is?
Hmm…I guess it would have been nice if someone could have told me that there will be people coming up to bring bad vibes and aggression over to you and that it is normal. I am still looking for a way to deal with it but the best way so far is either smile or ignore.

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Practical Tips From Street Artists: Akisiew / Kim Siew

Part 1 of our practical street artist guide

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Perfect Match (i.e. Christmas for Culture Scouts) is back. As if by magic, Inner West walls are bedecked with a whole new array of new street art. But the actual creation is not that easy. How do you start? Do you need permission? What is the best glue for paste ups? What do you do if you get heckled?

With the help of Australian muralists, Culture Scouts has put together a practical ‘Perfect Match’ guide. Here’s Part 1 with Akisiew.

Akisiew
Akisiew (Kim Siew) is a Sydney based illustrator and mural artist. Inspired by zine culture, graphic novels, her love of children’s books and the age old art of storytelling, her artworks captures characters within a moment, exploring fabled worlds made up of pattern and shape. Her work can be found across Sydney’s Inner West. You can see her works on Art Pharmacy online gallery.

What are common hurdles you might not expect when creating a mural?
If you’re painting onto a brick wall, take a look at the surface so you can prep your wall properly before you start. If it has never been painted before, slap on a thick undercoat first so you can fill in all the cracks and so the brick won't suck up all the colour paint you’re going to apply.

House paint, spray paint or acrylic paint - what’s the difference for murals?
I paint my murals using house paint, only because I lack the skill of spray paint! I use exterior house paint as it has weathershield and the colour will last a few years in the Aussie sun. It also comes in a huge range of colours!

How do you get your image on the wall - projectors v gridding v freehand?
I create my design to scale of the wall, print it out and then mark out a rough grid on the print out. I put a few marks on the wall of half way points etc, but it’s pretty rough and ready – as my style is flat and unrealistic, I tend to paint free hand and can get away with things being out of proportion etc.

What do you wish someone told you before creating your first mural?
That I should have started ages ago. It’s the best fun ever … just go for it!

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Street Art: Fresh On The Walls For Perfect Match

Wake up this weekend and get to Sydney’s Inner West - where the delectable smell of fresh coffee and pastries will mingle with that of fresh paint. This can only mean one thing - the Inner West Council’s public art program, Perfect Match, is back for 2017!

Started as an initiative to tackle unwanted graff in a positive way, the initiative sees property owners and artists paired up. The owners provide the walls, the artists the skills and BAM! you have public street art that is both beautiful and deters taggers.

This year 52 property owners and 70 artists applied to be part of the program. 16 happy property owners and artists were selected this year. The works will be officially unveiled this weekend: amongst free neighbourhood celebrations, talks, tours and more.

Culture Scouts will be running an extensive street art walking tour: ‘The Cultural Express’ Saturday 5 August 2-4pm - which will use the trains  on a whistle stop journey to discover the richness of street art at stops along the way. Learn about enormous new street artworks and finish with yummy dumplings in Ashfield.

Our Culture Scouts who specialise their knowledge in street art who will guide you through the neighborhood; explaining the shift of the murals from illegal to coveted, showing you original works by street artists now internationally recognised, and explaining Sydney’s place in the wider graffiti scene.

Don't forget your Opal card, and bring your (best) walking shoes.

For bookings and more information visit our Culture Scouts booking page.

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Local nudes: Life Drawing At The Hive Bar

By Louisa Tiley

Culture Scout Louisa Tiley plays the local explorer as she investigates nudes, wine, jazzy tunes, & (most intriguingly) Rodin’s Thinker, at Life Drawing at The Hive Bar, in Erskineville.

Every Wednesday night The Hive Bar hosts a cosy two hour life drawing session in their Erskineville loft space.

It’s an event shrouded in mystery, almost solely publicised through posters like the below.

Whilst drawing starts at 7.30pm, it’s best to drop by at least half an hour early to nab a spot on the coveted sign up sheet.

After putting your name down, either take a seat at the bar or make a mad dash next door to indulge in some of The Rose’s famous onion rings.

At around 7.20 guests start trekking up an intriguing back staircase to the life drawing room. The crowd varies each week - but is usually a diverse gang of 5 to 20 art lovers ranging from their early twenties to mid eighties.

Strong heating, jazzy tunes, bright lights and mismatched furniture contribute to very relaxed, local vibes.

Each drawing session begins with a series of 1 minute warm up sketches, followed by several 5, 10, 20 and 25 minute poses. You can often request poses too. Rodin’s Thinker is a popular choice.

The evening is relatively free from instruction, ensuring there’s always an eclectic range of artistic styles represented in drawings.

Everyone is poured a generous glass of sparkling wine on arrival and there’s a short break in the middle to refuel.

It’s important to BYO drawing materials. Most people opt for a sketchbook, lead pencils, eraser, sharpener and something to lean on.

The two hour life drawing session starts at 7.30pm every Wednesday (except during school holidays). $15 cash covers two hours of guided drawing + a glass of sparkling wine.

Want to discover more gems around Sydney? Be a tourist in your own city and join us on a Culture Scouts walking tour today.

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Culture Scouts Tour Guide Spotlight - Artist Craig Bunker

Culture Scout, Craig Bunker, is an Adelaide-born and bred artist, who is now a local Inner Westie and expert on the cultural scene and the neighbourhood street art found there. An established artist and illustrator, he sources his inspiration from comic books. We sat down with Craig to learn more about his past, his art, and his passion for the artistic community in and around Newtown.

You’re a street artist yourself, is that correct?
I started off as a street artist, and I think like lots of other street artists, you kind of blossom off into different things. I do a lot of  sign writing now, and my I’m concentrating more on comic books - I’ve been into them ever since I was a kid - I was always doing comics and stuff. I came to Sydney about 10 years ago - from Adelaide - I grew up down south in a place called Hallett Cove, near Brighton. I used to wander around on my own a lot and think of ideas for comics.

Just recently I took three months off and went back to Adelaide, I spent my time drawing so that I could create a colouring-in book. Comics has definitely taken me over for now. Street art will always been there, but it’s not my focus at the moment.

Is there a name we could look out for on the street? What name do you go under?
Bunkwaa. I still do stickers and cheeky little things. For me street art was just like going to the pub, I would just go out with friends, and we’d drink beer and paint walls and glue things to walls and be naughty.

Did you ever do a mural that you were allowed to do?
Yeah - a lot of my murals are gone because they are un
der layers of other murals. With street art - it’s something that you have to keep up all the time, if you don’t everything starts to get cleaned up, or covered by other murals.

Where did you usually do murals?
I’ve done some in Surry Hills, in Chippendale (for Pine Street), and Tortuga Studios -  they have this really good practice wall there.

What do you love about scouting for Culture Scouts?
I just love the community I live in, it’s just so buzzing and creative and it’s a really inspiring place to be. The tours give me a chance to not only tell people about the town and all the great things, and all the great art, but you also get to pop into more creative shops and meet designers and things like that, so you get to know more people in the community as well. It’s a great excuse to meet people. In that area too I’m also running kid’s art classes.

I love pointing out things like the backs of signs to people on the tour, and once I point them out they are like “I’ve never noticed that before” - and now they are noticing that the backs of street signs are caked in artist’s stickers and stuff, and all the little cheeky things around. I used to make little cardboard characters and I would hide one in like the crack of a wall or something for someone to look down and go “Hey what's that?”. It was ephemeral, I just wanted to turn people into that kind of person, that is constantly looking around for little things.

What’s your favourite thing to show people in Newtown at the moment?
I mean, it's the obvious one, but I really like the 'I Have A Dream' mural (on King Street) because I have a real strong connection to that mural. When I first came to Sydney there were a bunch of artists camping out under the mural - it was the really early days of artists like Ears (Daniel O’Toole) , about eight or ten years ago. We were just doing art on cardboard and stuff, I was drawing little characters on cardboard and selling them for fifteen dollars. I did that for ages, I made well over a thousand drawing like that. It was a great time, it was like an open air studio. Occasionally other people are still there. It was a free space, so people could just come and set up their stuff, and they would. It was a really arty spot for a while. It’s not so much now, it’s mainly just a place for markets on the weekend - where people sell jewellery and secondhand books and things, so not as cool anymore!  A lot of those artists who were there when I was there have gone on to do some of the big murals that you see around the area.

Who painted the 'I Have A Dream' mural?
I’m really kind of intrigued by that story, it was painted by a guy called Andrew Aiken. He was a  homeless person, and he was a street artist that did a few other murals around Newtown that no longer exist sadly but that particular one was done illegally, and he and his girlfriend (Julie Pryor) worked on the mural for 24 hours, and some of the shopkeepers around pitched in money for cherry-pickers so they could get right up to the top and do the whole thing. But the intriguing part of the story is that after that mural was finished he went to a priest and confessed that he had killed somebody overseas and the priest told him you’ve got to go back and face that. And he did, and he went to jail and I don’t know if he is still there - this happened in the U.K.

The artist was British? I thought he would be Indigenous Australian?
Well no - that’s interesting isn’t it, because the Aboriginal flag came after, so he didn’t actually paint that. There was a crowd of people there originally painted on the wall - the aboriginal flag is covering that. I don’t know who painted the flag, someone just turned up one day and painted it. It kind of solidified the mural, because no one is going to paint over that flag now.

Is there much illegal art around Newtown now?
There is, there’s heaps - if you go through the back streets, there are so many throw-ups still going up, the culture still exists. Sometimes you see throw-ups on top of murals as well. The worst is when you see someone even just spraying a line through a mural, that’s not even creative!

Is there anything that you might have think people might not have seen in Newtown that you like?
There’s an artist called Will Coles that I love just because of how naughty he is, he’s just so mischievous. People always miss his stuff, so you have point it out, and when you do, people start noticing him everywhere. He’s the guy responsible for cement televisions with inscriptions on them. There’s lots in St Peters, lots in Newtown. There’s a bit of a problem with him  - people steal his work. He uses really strong glue to stick his things down but people will try to prise them off. He’s got a mobile phone piece, and the phone is glued down, but a lot of them you find you’ll see someone has chipped away at it. He finds it quite annoying, because he puts his work out there for the public and it’s meant for everyone. You might have seen the balaclavas on the the ground, all in cement.  He was in Sculpture by the Sea one year, and then the next year they wouldn’t let him in so he made all these giant soy sauce sushi fish and he scattered them along the beach - they were massive. They left them there, because people liked his style - his cheekiness.

Book a street art tour of Newtown here

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FOMO for MOFO: Culture Scouts Goes Interstate For The Dark Festival

Co-written by Culture Scouts Emilya Colliver & Sophia de Mestre

Missed out? Follow us for on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter for news on future bespoke tours.

A thousand thanks to Bryon Merzeo for helping Culture Scouts with arrangements!

Culture Scouts packed its bags to head south for the winter. Joining the annual pilgrimage to Hobart’s Dark Mofo, last weekend we led a dozen amongst thousands of winter solstice worshippers to the best sites.

It was a heady weekend of late night festivities, immersive installations and performances, music, light and noise. Although we ate the best of Tasmanian produce including cheeses, wines, bespoke beers, gin and apple cider, the best feasting was found at the deluge of artistic offerings.

Dark MOFO: a quick history
The festival, Dark Mofo, was originally launched by Hobart’s Mona (Museum of New and Old Art) as the winter sister to MONA Festival of Music and Art.

Mofo delves into centuries-old winter solstice rituals; aiming to explore the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, religious and secular traditions, darkness and light, and birth, death and renewal.

The darkness descends and the music rises...
Our first evening sets the tone for the weekend as we venture down to Salamanca Bay. Like a call to prayer, the meditative and emotive, Siren Song, begins to play. There are no holds barred as the melody is played from 450 speakers positioned around the city and (no less) a dancing helicopter.

Video Credit: The Guardian

It lasts around seven minutes – the time it takes for the sun to fully set.

It’s hard to imagine Melbourne or Sydney agreeing to rig up their CBD buildings with speakers blasting siren songs at dawn and dusk...

DARK party in the PARK
We head to DARK PARK to pursue some art delicacies. We’re met by technicolour lasers and immersive sound transform the night sky, organised by the rules of sacred geometry.

First up, we see IY PROJECT by Chris Levine & Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack) and Marco Perry. Meditative, dramatic, and slightly disorientating. According to the gossip, the installations are, in fact, based on sacred geometries and meditation frequencies.

Daniel Boyd’s Hello Darkness is next on the agenda. Presented in a warehouse setting, Boyd’s work consists of a light installation and series of video projections. Dots are the connecting feature. The four video works, presented in pairs, are composed of black screens with transparent circles that simultaneously reveal and obscure underlying images.

Ambient light diffuses the image intensity and audience members position themselves between the projectors and the screen, dancing and allowing their bodies to be momentarily enveloped by dots.

Winter Feast - the food heart & soul of Dark Mofo
It’s a badly kept secret that this midwinter banquet is the main Mofo attraction. Up to 10,000 people come to the Hobart waterfront each night, with fire and flames a central theme of the feast. But the real pull are the stunning long tables laden with thousands of candles.

As we were to learn later on at Mona, alcohol is considered a valuable constituent when look at art.

MONA with Justin
A tour with front of house manager, Justin Johnstone through the subterranean museum art collection is an entirely different museum experience. As stated by the infamous David Walsh, Mona is an ‘anti-museum’. Even the front entrance is comparatively understated in contrast to the grandiose and somewhat intimidating entrances of a traditional museums.

Read our interview with Justin here

Walsh’s collection is authentically his own; Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus are interspersed with contemporary installations, digital works, and digestive machines. Extra un-museum like bonus was their onsite Moorilla wines cellar door. Glass in hand we wandered through the gravity assisted winery.

‘The Museum of Everything’ exhibition
Ever though art was snobby? ‘The Museum of Everything’ Mona exhibition is anything but. Founded and curated by James Brett, the travelling institution, which opened in London in 2009, advocates for the visibility of art that falls outside the confines of the art world proper.

These artists don’t have degrees, but they might have visions or compulsions; they are transcendent scientists, self-taught architects, and citizen inventors; sometimes, they are dedicated followers of personal belief systems, or producing art from inside a hospital or prison.

Sunset Skyspace
Seated on heated concrete benches, we watch the sky’s changing light and cloud patterns as they pass across a central rectangular opening in the canopy, which itself is washed by an ever-changing mosaic of different computer-generated colours.

AMARNA is one of a series of more than 80 Skyspace installations Turrell has built in high altitude and geographically isolated locations. MONA’s work is the largest Skyspace to date and Turrell’s southern-most installation.

Welcome Stranger…
The Siren Song plays again and dusk descends once more.

Our group scattered: some of us braved the Welcome Stranger obstacle course, others watch the unforgettable live performances by political sex clown, Betty Grumble in a 19th century church.

There was karaoke in thematic rooms at the Welcome Stranger pub, ballet performances with tennis balls at the Royal Tennis Club, Jess Johnson’s digital inspired works at the Masonic Hall, Ulver’s cinematic masterpiece with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra amongst too many to count

For those who had stamina (or who think they do) at 1am head to Transliminal - the electronic underbelly of the subterranean club scene.

Seeing the Art Mob
Owner of Art Mob art gallery, Euan Hills, invited us bright and arlt to his gallery to view the collection of Indigenous paintings, shell necklaces and other artifacts. Euan, who has been an Indigenous art dealer for over 15 years, is well connected amongst communities all over Australia.

Getting out: the nature of Mount Wellington

It was a relief to immerse oneself in the nature of Mount Wellington after all the dark and subterranean experiences of the last couple of days. The spectacular panoramic view of Hobart and the Southern ocean tingle the senses as fresh chilly air blasted our faces. The Alpine sub-climate at the top of the mountain is a visual spectacle with gnarled and twisted eucalyptus trees, heathers and moss covered boulders.

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Walking Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

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Walking Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

On just the second day, winter was giving us a sneak preview of the chilly weather we can expect in the coming months.  However, that did not stop the wonderful media group partaking in a Culture Scouts Walking Tour of the Surry Hills Creative Precinct on Friday 2nd June.  Walking around the creative hub of Surry Hills: up Campbell Street, along Crown Street and down to Bourke Street our scout Sophia informed us of the local artisans who are at the heart of this city precinct.

Paramount
Starting in the chill of the morning at Paramount Coffee Project we were shown around by Bob Barton (director of Golden Age Cinema and Bar) who explained how the integrity of the Functionalist building has been maintained.  The architectural design was born out of Art Deco, beautiful and functional without the excessive decoration.  Paramount utilises the space with bold efficiency, revitalising the once busy loading dock into a cafe and converting the underground storage space into a bar that emanates a speakeasy atmosphere.

 
 

Hay
Minimal, functional yet beautifully crafted only begins to describe the Danish design house of Hay Sydney, conveniently located on the corner of Crown and Campbell Street.  The concept of Hay is to illustrate great design can come at an affordable price.  There is a warmth and calming effect to their products that would be welcoming in any home.

Citizen Wolf
Where in Sydney can you walk into a store and design your own T-shirt, choosing your preferred length, neck-line and fabric? At Citizen Wolf on Crown Street, this dream has become a reality.  The philosophy of co-founders Zoltan and Eric is to provide a zero-waste environment for casual fashion pieces to be created and enjoyed.  Tailor made, hand or laser cut design and locally assembled, Citizen Wolf believes this will be the best T-shirt you will ever own.

Zoo Emporium Vintage
A quick stop past Zoo Emporium lightened the atmosphere of gloomy rain clouds above.  Specialising in vintage products from the 1970s and 1980s, no matter what piece of clothing, shoes or accessories you are searching for, Zoo has you covered.  Operating for over twenty years, this is no ordinary vintage shop, well versed in their preferred era of fashion.

 
 

Reko Rennie Building
Beginning as a City of Sydney street awareness initiative in 2012, the Reko Rennie Building at Taylor Square has become an icon in its own right.  Rennie, an Indigenous artist, boldly painted the building and included the sentence “Always was, always will be”.  This artwork is poignantly illustrating to viewers they are standing on Gadigal Land, that it has always been Gadigal Land and will always continue to be Gadigal Land.

Formaggi Ocello
What is not to like about a cheese and wine boutique.  The group stopped past Ocello for a cheese tasting, sampling only three of their two-hundred locally and internationally imported cheeses.  We were told the wonderful story of how sixteen years ago, founders Carmelo and Sogna Ocello, lovers of cheese began distributing goats cheese from Queensland and how their cheese empire now supplies the best restaurants in Sydney.

Gratia
First noticing the warm and inviting atmosphere, Gratia welcomes visitors to explore their Bourke Street location as the first ‘profit for purpose’ cafe in Sydney.  The cafe donates 100% of their profits to local and global initiatives aimed at promoting positive change.

 
 

The School of Life
Just a quick walk up the stairs from Gratia, The School of Life aims to provide education and direction to those seeking answers to life’s most basic issues.  Programs explore how to live more wisely by discovering the self, to become more resilient, more confident and how to love yourself first and foremost.  The group was invited to take part in a couple of exploratory and trust exercises to briefly understand how the school operates.  After only a 15 minute session, it was made clear to the group how beneficial it can be to understanding another person by asking simple open-ended questions and truly listening before responding.

Like to do something similar? Book Now!

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REVIEW: Sydney Cultural Walking Tours: Discover The City Differently On Foot

While moves are definitely afoot to revitalise Sydney’s inner city, much of the grassroots cultural scene is currently to be found in the small suburbs around the city fringe, including Newtown, Darlinghurst, Pyrmont, Chippendale and Surry Hills. Walking tours are a great way to discover everything these artistic enclaves have to offer. Reviewed by: Joanne Karcz, The Big Bus - May 2017

It’s known for its food, art and design, and is steeped in the early history of settlement. It also has a great community feel. Surry Hills is one of the cultural hotspots covered by Culture Scouts – which offers Sydney cultural walking tours with the aim of helping guests to ‘discover Sydney differently’. On today’s tour that’s exactly what I hope to do.

It’s only a short walk from Sydney’s Central Station to the meeting place on the corner of Devonshire and Bourke Streets. In 2004 the Bourke Street Bakery started in a little corner store here. They now have eleven outlets across Sydney. I have time for a coffee and a bite to eat and I choose a ginger crème brulee tart to accompany my flat white. This tart is one reason (the sourdough bread is another) that many locals and visitors alike make a beeline for this bakery. It definitely lives up to the hype.

Our guide Sophia begins the tour by leading us down a little laneway. On our right is a door set into a large dark wall. To the right of the door is a scaled down version of a sculpture I recognise. The full-sized ‘Almost Once’ is located outside the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is the work of esteemed artist Brett Whiteley, who lived and worked in this converted warehouse in the 1980s. I am excited to finally visit his workspace. Downstairs is the exhibition space, while the living area and studio are upstairs. Music from Whiteley’s collection is playing. It’s been chosen to complement the current exhibition (which changes regularly). Entry to the Brett Whiteley Studio is free. It’s open to the public from Friday to Sunday.

The Head On photography festival is on this week in Sydney and one of the exhibitions is displayed at the Special Group studios. The interesting series of photographs is called ‘Resist Laughter’ by Alana Holmberg. They explore the experiences of young feminists in Turkey. I wish I had time to examine each photograph more closely, but we have to move on.

On either side of a half-open red roller door is some great street art. I’m told the pieces are by ‘Ears’. I expect the work was commissioned by The Pottery Shed in Nickson Street, which is our next stop. Joseph Darling who founded The Pottery Shed, tells us that in three two-hour lessons beginners can walk away with basic pottery skills and a thrown pot that they have made themselves. As Joe demonstrates the technique on a wheel, he talks about the meditative value of pottery. I find myself itching to get my hands into the smooth clay; to feel it taking shape. I decide to sign up. Pottery classes will be a fun activity for me to do with my daughter. As we leave, other tour participants express similar thoughts.

At the end of a covered laneway, another surprise awaits us. ‘Village Voices’ is an artwork that was commissioned by the City of Sydney. We are lucky to have the artist, Astra Howard, present to explain the work and how it came about. The artwork features regularly changing text in the form of short stories, which are developed in workshops with locals or submitted by individuals. The text has strong local relevance. Large white plastic letters form the words, which are placed in rows along the wall. The work is thought-provoking, encourages conversation and is a wonderful way of reflecting and promoting a sense of community.

Where there is art, there is often a need for a frame. We are taken to Acme Framing, which has had a workshop in Surry Hills for many years. They have an innovative approach to their craft and like to meet the challenge of an unusual framing request!

Further up the street is The Standard Store, a clothing boutique popular with local creatives. Nicola, the owner, travels overseas regularly to source unique items of clothing that reflect the nature of Surry Hills. While her store has an online presence, she prefers the ‘bricks and mortar’ of fashion retail, and enjoys meeting her clients who live and work in the suburb.

Sophia explains that Culture Scouts likes to tailor tours of Surry Hills to meet the needs and interests of participants. Today’s tour has been curated as an introduction to the Surry Hills Festival, which is happening later in the year. Other tour options include one with an emphasis on coffee – where a visit to roasters and brewers in and around Surry Hills is the order of the day. A tour combining food, wine and coffee is also a popular choice, while art lovers might choose an itinerary with an emphasis on art and history.

As Sophia says: ‘’Our tours embrace all things art, design, architecture, food and bespoke retail. We want people to experience our city as a creative and cultural destination’.

All too soon this tour is over – and what a great mix of experiences it has been. Even though I am a Sydneysider, I have been continually surprised by what we’ve seen. That’s what discovering Sydney differently is all about.

Joanne travelled as a guest of Culture Scouts. 

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Redfern Storytelling Tour Feature: Tracey Moffatt X Venice Biennale 2017

Photo: Linda Yablonsky

Photo: Linda Yablonsky

Photo: John Gollings

Photo: John Gollings

Interested? Book the 3rd June Indigenous Storytelling Tour NOW. Spaces are filling fast. 

As we at Culture Scouts continue to ramp up for our 3 June Indigenous Storytelling tour, it seems fitting to spotlight one of Australia’s best loved artists who will be featured on the tour.

Read more about the tour here

Photo: John Gollings

Photo: John Gollings

In support of artist Carol Ruff, Australian great Tracey Moffatt helped created the famous eighties 40,000 years mural that is opposite Redfern station. According to Vanessa Berry, the mural was designed by Ruff, while Moffatt aided by asking the local community what they wanted included in the mural.

Moffatt is now a household name, and is currently exhibiting in the Australian Pavilion at the 57th Biennale in Venice. She is the first Indigenous Australian to have a solo show there.

The last artists of indigenous descent to exhibit in the pavilion were in 1997.

Tracey's installation at the Australian Pavilion titled My Horizon depicts the human condition in her trademark stylised still photography and video works.

"I wanted the 40s-era film noir images to read as being 'of the past’,” she says, “but the storyline speaks about what is happening in the world today, with asylum seekers crossing borders."

Moffatt’s work is cinematographic, poignant and dramatic in its authority on themes synonymous to her practice and on a global scale. Although constructed through a postcolonial lens, it is her ability to tell a universal story that is the key to her success.

Tracey Moffat's biography on the Art Gallery of NSW website describes her as "probably Australia's most successful artist ever, both nationally and internationally'.

Although identifying as an indigenous artist she has eschewed traditional indigenous art making practice; preferring to tell her story through the lens and through film. Referencing childhood memories and merging them with her own constructed dramas. Moffatt plays director to glamorised film like stills that touch on themes of displacement, drama, fairytales, race, identity, sex and gender.

You can see and hear about Moffatt's contribution to the street art of Redfern on Culture Scouts Indigenous Storytelling tour on Saturday June 3rd.

Interested? Book the 3rd June Indigenous Storytelling Tour NOW. Spaces are filling fast. 

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A Whistlestop Trip: Marrickville Open Studio Tour

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A Whistlestop Trip: Marrickville Open Studio Tour

Two tours for the Inner West Council

All aboard! Culture Scouts led The Cultural Express Tour in partnership with Inner West Open Studio Trail last Saturday (2pm - 4pm). Hopping on the train at Newtown Train Station, we took the group to pull back the curtain on the vibrant inner-west creative scene.

Like to do something similar? Book here

Saturday: The Cultural Express Tour #1

STOP #1: MLC Gallery
Artist, Miriam Cabello, is also the curator of the MLC Gallery Space - the studio and gallery. As part of Vivid Ideas, Carnival of the Bold collaborated with Miriam to present Cause & Effect: Artists for Social Change. Our lucky walkers attended the critical discussion; part of the two-week MLC exhibition worked on by Miriam and five other artists; Andrea Srisurapon, Mandy Schöne-Salter, Marwa Charmand, Sherine Tan and Tia Kass.

STOP #2: Lennox Street Studios
Lennox Street Studios, one of Sydney’s oldest artist run studios, developed out of a need to meet the demand for traditional artist spaces in Sydney. Recently they have been trying to bring outsiders in through photography and design. Each artist now has their own profile page. Art classes and exhibitions are held all year round, with occasional community events (Saturday was a classic BBQ).

STOP #3: Newsagency Gallery
Newsagency gallery evokes a sense of Aussie nostalgia, with a faded Women's Weekly sign out the front. But in no way is it stuck in the past. Both curating group exhibitions, and hosting solo shows by emerging and established artists, Newsagency likes to shake things up.

Sunday: Delve into Marrickville Tour #2

STOP #1: Fintan Magee & ZAP street art
No trip to Marrickville would be complete without seeing some of the remarkable street art murals that are so numerous you’d almost forget how amazing they are. Fintan ‘the Banksy of Australia’ Magee was showcasing his social realism. He depicts workers, and other people who are assets to the community who don’t usually get seen. The mysterious ZAP artist also made an appearance with his jaunty comic book-esque graphics.

STOP #2: Monster Mouse Studios
The walkers were welcomed off the winding back lanes by Carizza, who took us around the maze of artistic nooks and crannies. Walking in and out of the studios of woodworkers, painters, and sculptors was a highlight - especially when Art Pharmacy painter Claire Nakazawa paused in her work to give us some information about how she worked. Afterwards, tourers admires the exhibition taking place within Monster Mouse.

Claire Nakazawa

Claire Nakazawa

STOP #3: Scratch Studios
The energy was incredible - performance art involving sugar cubes and clay, artists working away on their projects, and all working as smoothly as clockwork. A highlight was photographer’s Grace Costa’s beautiful horse photographs. The images were so soft, you’d be forgiven for thinking some of them were paintings. Carmel, of Scratch, rounded off the visit with a talk about the inner workings of Scratch.

STOP #4: Batch Brewery Company
For thirsty walkers, nothing is more appealing than a beer a cold beer, in an atmospheric brewery on a stunningly beautiful Sunday afternoon. With some delicious kebab wraps to regain stamina, the guys at Batch brewer were friendly and hospitable.

Like to do something similar? Book here

 

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Culture Scouts x Australian Tourism Exchange 2017

Interested in booking a tour for yourself or for an organisation? Contact us here
Are you an interested ITO or journalist? Contact us here

Head Scout, Emilya Colliver and Culture Scouts General Manager, Sophia de Mestre

Head Scout, Emilya Colliver and Culture Scouts General Manager, Sophia de Mestre

Culture Scouts was once again part of the Australian Tourism Exchange in Sydney last week! We’re still catching our breath from the flurry of hosting Culture Scouts walking tours, meeting international journalists and catching up with international tour operators (ITO’s).

We took around journalists from the NBC, New York Post, The Daily Telegraph, Arts Hub and more, to show what a culturally rich city Sydney is.

Read more about our Surry Hills tours here

We wanted to communicate the Culture Scout goal: to usher out of town visitors past the Opera House and into the heart of what makes Sydney the artistic hub it is today. We want visitors to Sydney to think twice before they spend their whole Sydney visit in Circular Quay with an over-priced drink at a tourist bar. As the Sydney street artist, La, says, “There are those people you meet, and talking to them is like talking to a wall. Then there are the walls you meet...”.

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event.  ATE brings together Australian tourism businesses in a forum to promote their products directly to tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world through a combination of scheduled business appointments and networking events. It also provides international travel Buyers with the opportunity to experience Australia’s tourism offering first-hand through pre and post event familiarisations.

Interested in booking a tour for yourself or for an organisation? Contact us here
Are you an interested ITO or journalist? Contact us here

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Art & Architecture With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

Even a month's worth of rain in under twenty four hours won't stop this cultural mission! Culture Scouts took an international media group on a cultural walking on Friday 19th May, on behalf of Surry Hills Creative Precinct. Consisting of visitors from across the world, the group were taken around Bourke Street, Crown Street and Devonshire Street in search of the design driven minds that the Sydney cityscape is famous for.

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Smart Design Studio
Culture Scout Guide, Sophia, led guests into Smart Design to meet William Smart - the founder and Creative Director of the studio. Shortlisted to build the Singapore National Museum at the age of twenty-nine, Smart is a passionate architect who throws himself into his projects. He speaks to visitors about how he is currently trying to harness unusual tension between the old and new aspects of a bridge that is  being built. Using 3-D printing, the models they create aim to make the building they create both sculptural and beautiful to their purpose. Interestingly, the studio itself used to be a farmhouse, and was once part of soldier Joseph Foveaux’s farmland in nineteenth century Sydney.

The Pottery Shed
The Pottery Shed is exactly how you’d imagine a seventies California pottery workshop. It’s an oasis of calm in a busy existence (albeit a modernised one). Located on Nickson Street, just off Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, The Pottery Shed has a warm interior, with glowing tea cups, bowls and vases sited carefully on every surface. Joe Darling, the founder of the establishment, comes in halfway through to tell how his classes work. “[Pottery] draws you in,” Darling explains, “restricting other thoughts; pulling together your centred-ness and focus. It would have been the thing that would have kept me out of my possibly troubled youth.”

Read the interview with Joe Darling here

Village Voices
Next the group walked along to performer’s Astra Howard’s public artwork, Village Voices. Created as a work that can be changed often, Village Voices selects texts submitted by the public through a drop box at Surry Hills Library. They are then displayed at the Wiltshire Through Link off Crown Street. Through doing this, Howard hopes to tell both local and global stories to passers-by.

Special Group: Pool Collective
Special Group are an independent creative company, who work with such creative giants as R.M. Williams, King Living, Pet Barn and Qantas. They currently reside in what was the Hughes Gallery (Ray Hughes is a colourful Sydney art character - famous for his dramatic lunches). Boasting a beautiful collection of art, they just finished hosting Pool Grant winner, Alama Holmberg’s photographic collection, Resist Laughter. A series based around the then Turkish Prime Minister’s, Bülent Arinç, comments that women should ‘resist’ laughing in public, Holmberg photographed women’s rights activists. The night of Friday 19th May, The Pool Collective - a group of commercial artists who are resident - are launching their exhibition, Pool IX. We particularly loved Christopher Ireland’s video work, which documents the residents of a building in Kirribilli.

Gascoigne and King
After a sneaky coffee stop at the Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery (for the most delicious flat whites Sydney has to offer the international crowd) the group took a final stop at the home of entrepreneurial Bronwyn Gascoigne. Gascoigne created and drives a line of natural and environmentally friendly candle products. A professional nez, she used a series of perfumes to demonstrate how she mixes scents. Known for her woody and mixed variety, her candles made the whole place smell almost delicious as the cupcakes she gave out.

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On Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

Culture Scouts pulled on its best gumboots to take a media group on a cultural walking tour this wet Friday. Taking place in Surry Hills - home to one of the highest creative concentrations in the world - the tour was undertaken on behalf of Surry Hills Creative Precinct. Read on to discover how we hit up hidden studios, off-peak galleries and comic book-obsessed coffee shops, in search of the perfect Sydney cultural trip.

Like to do something similar? Book now

Carol Crawford: Sculpture
Culture Scout Guide, Sophia, ushered the guests up an unobtrusive side door behind Central Station. Going up some narrow stairs, we found ourselves in a winter lit sculpture studio. Carol, the resident artist and owner, hands covered in alabaster dust from the Italian stone she carves, explained how she finds and carves it. Crawford prefers stones with faults in it - seeing her art making process as a journey of discovering the personality of the object. We could have stayed there for hours - but after a near miss with an exquisitely carved alabaster seagull we beat a careful retreat.

Michael Reid Sydney
Next up, Michael Reid Sydney. Located in the historical Standard House on Kippax Street, the international gallery is currently hosting a Christian Thompson exhibition. A Bidjara man, Thompson’s latest exhibition is a series of gorgeous photographic mix of black and white, and colour.

The Reformatory Caffeine LAB
Stopping for coffee at The Reformatory Caffeine LAB is more than just grabbing a hot cup to warm your hands. We spoke to the baristas on how they achieve their strong brews, while our faces were lit up by the bright colours of theJustice League cartoon playing on the television. The walls are lined by an eclectic dark black and green comic book strip - making the Reformatory a nostalgically fun experience. 

planet au
Gold leaves dappled the ceiling, as tourers listened to the story of planet’s sustainable design. Specialising in natural textiles, as well as timber, planet stocks lots of hand dyed Indian fabric (that participants couldn’t help running their hands over). By the end we had to be ushered out repeatedly to make us leave!

China Heights
Blink and you’d miss it. China Heights gallery, founded by Edward Woodley, Mark Drew, Benji Phillips, under the guidance of conceptual artist, Michael Sharp, CH has been going strong since its founding in 2004. Currently it is showing the aesthetically delicate, but emotionally strong, collection of work by Miso/Stanislava Pinchuk, entitled ‘Sarcophagus’. Sarcophagus explores through an intricate tapestry the emotions of the Chernobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zone, where textiles were once created. In the back room we admire the hard work of Gemma O’Brien’s mural designs. Four flights of stairs have never been so worth it.

The Office Space
Last, but not least, we arrived to goggle at the overwhelming collection of Boris and Naomi Tosic of The Office Space, in the Paramount Building, above Golden Age Cinema. While they’re known for curating a collection of stylish, forward-thinking shared working environments, what’s really exciting is the treasures dotted over every available wall space. A favourite was the twin serigraphs by Sister Conita Kent, a sixties artist and nun, that adorn one of the walls of the conference room. Jim Morrison Was Here by Ben Quilty was also a major highlight.

Like to do something similar? Book now

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Inside A Culture Scouts Art Tour: Devonshire Street Edition

Culture Scouts was very excited this Friday to be taking a media tour group around Devonshire Street, Surry Hills on an art tour, on behalf of the historic Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre. The party of both Sydney-sider natives and visitors made their way through established businesses, up-and-comers and community projects.

Like to do something similar? Book now

Brett Whiteley Gallery
No creative trip to Surry Hills would ever be complete without a visit to this institution of Australian Art. What was once Brett Whiteley’s studio, is now run by Alec George of AGNSW in consultation to Whiteley’s widow, Wendy. Tourers were invited past the iconic burnt match, through the gallery with its luminously evocative ‘Bathroom series’ paintings, and upstairs to the celebrated artist’s studio. Preserved closely after his death in 1992, the walls were scrawled with graffiti; dumbbells and records scattered on shelves and on the floor.

Special Group
Special Group are an independent creative company, who work with such creative giants as R.M. Williams, King Living, Pet Barn and Qantas. Boasting a beautiful collection of art, they are currently hosting Pool Grant winner, Alama Holmberg’s photographic collection, Resist Laughter. A series based around the then Turkish Prime Minister’s, Bülent Arinç, comments that women should ‘resist’ laughing in public, Holmberg photographed women’s rights activists.

Bourke Street Bakery
As everyone knows, art cannot be really appreciated on an empty stomach. In the case of this tour, tourers were given a whole pastry selection. Bakers, David McGuiness & Paul Allam, started the Bourke Street Bakery in 2004, and are now running eleven shops. Known for its buttery croissants, melting pain-au-chocolats, and extraordinary ginger brulee tarts (yes, it’s a thing), Bourke Street has become a staple of Surry Hills. And David’s favourite pastry? “The classic”, he smiles, gesturing to the goodies on display: “the pain-au-chocolat, the croissant”.

The Pottery Shed
The Pottery Shed is exactly how you’d imagine a seventies California pottery workshop. It’s an oasis of calm in a busy existence (albeit a modernised one). Located on Nickson Street, just off Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, The Pottery Shed has a warm interior, with glowing tea cups, bowls and vases sited carefully on every surface. Joe Darling, the founder of the establishment, welcomes the guests inside and after an explanation of how the classes work, sits us down for a hypnotising pottery wheel throwing session. “[Pottery] draws you in,” Darling explains, “restricting other thoughts; pulling together your centred-ness and focus. It would have been the thing that would have kept me out of my possibly troubled youth.”

Our interview with Joe Darling can be read here

Village Voices
Next the group walked along to performer’s Astra Howard’s public artwork, Village Voices. Created as a work that can be changed often, Village Voices selects texts submitted by the public through a drop box at Surry Hills Library. They are then displayed at the Wiltshire Through Link off Crown Street. Through doing this, Howard hopes to tell both local and global stories to passers-by.

ACME Framing
A logo designed by the radical pop artist, Martin Sharp makes an unforgettable impression as we walk through the doors of ACME Framing. The entry room boasts an array of different frames. One wall is taken up corner frames that when put together, looks like golden dragon scales. Director, Geoff Bracken, explains that all artworks have different needs, as we admire the collection.

Read Art Pharmacy's framing tips here

The Standard Store: Nicola Reindorf
Coming to Australia almost two decades ago, Reindorf has maintained an all-encompassing love and respect for quality clothes and design. With a ‘tightly curated’ collection, Reindorf stresses that their focus is on being more than a place to buy clothes. “[Customers] get to know us,” she says. Between the tactile nature of the TSS’s fabrics, and Reindorf’s bubbly dog, Honey, we could not agree more.

Like to do something similar?

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Indigenous Storytelling Tour, Redfern - 3 June

Have you ever wondered at the significance of the ‘Welcome to Redfern’ mural? Or what’s happening at The Block? Join guides Randall Arvilla and Carol D’Amici for an afternoon of storytelling, art, design and history in Redfern: one of Sydney’s most culturally rich suburbs.

This tour is a unique opportunity to learn about the indigenous history of inner-city Redfern and hear how the murals and street art act as commentary on the social, political and cultural issues synonymous to the area.

Snaking along the backstreets of this transitional suburb, you will see murals and artworks by Daniel Boyd, Tracey Moffatt, Blak Douglas, Nicole Monks and Reko Rennie; artists that are part of Sydney’s contemporary Indigenous community and vibrant art scene.

Other stops on the tour include access to the Cultural Centre, the Redfern Terrace Street Art Project, Hugo Street Reserve and The Block - locations that are representative of the political, cultural and social history of the Australian Aboriginal people who populated this area.

Both practicing artists, Randall and Carol (a member of the Northern River NSW Bundajung tribe) share their knowledge of Redfern, its colourful history and insight into the artworks that canvas the suburbs brick and mortar walls. Expect to hear converging stories of the Australian indigenous people, contemporary art and culture intertwined with tales and observations from the past and how they are connected to the people and suburb of Redfern today.

Building on the Indigenous Storytelling Tour that was held earlier this year for Sydney's Art Month, this is not a tour to be missed.

So don't miss out on this exclusive tour on 3rd June. Click below:

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