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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

REVIEW: Culture Scouts – Surry Hills Devonshire Street Tour

Reviewed by Olivia Lyle, Alt Media - 13th May 2017

I just had the great pleasure of going on an exclusive Surry Hills Devonshire Street tour led by the two most beautiful tour guides from Culture Scouts.

Now I must say, I wouldn’t normally drag myself to go to a museum or gallery. However, after this fantastic two hour exploration into some of the best hidden gems in Sydney, I now want to be a painter!

We first met at Bourke Street Bakery, which if you haven’t been there, I suggest you go because you will eat everything in the bakeshop. Our topnotch tour guides then showed us a few interesting galleries where I found myself lingering and asking the artists far too many questions.

Not only was my mind expanded through various painters and photographers, but my personal favourite spot was The Pottery Shed. Behind a bright red garage door, lay a world of clay pots and many dirty hands.

These and many other captivating places we went to on our tour are tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Surry Hills. This two hour journey felt like I was taken away for a decade into a land filled with mesmerising artists and their enchanting creations. I would have never discovered these landmarks if it weren’t for this well planned out tour by Culture Scouts.

Whether you are a local or someone passing through Sydney, I highly recommend going on this tour. You will be inspired and astounded at the artists that are living their dreams, just behind a red garage door.

Tickets & Info for future Walking Tours: www.culturescouts.com.au

A Darling Project: Surry Hill’s 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.

While visiting artists and teachers from overseas work in the back, Culture Scouts sits down to talk with Joe Darling, the founder of The Pottery Shed.

Darling is as welcoming as the establishment itself. He tells me about all the beautiful things he sees created in his class: according to him it happens, “all the time.” He spreads his hands, in excitement. “Especially when the individual has that first spark of ‘Aha!’ … a balanced adult has many inputs but some people aren’t quite balanced so those who do experience that for the first time, often it’s a shocking deep revelation and that’s what stirs me the most.”

“I guess I get more of those wonderful moments than you would imagine.”

Although he is now running a successful pottery business, it has not always been smooth sailing for Darling. “My story is born out of tragedy”, he acknowledges as we sit in the sun dappled entrance room, “My parents passed away when I was a teenager. My life was completely ripped apart and in high school, the people that looked after me in that emotional sense were my teachers.” But the best was craft, “[They] had a focus on [it] and the teachers that took care of me and the parts of craft and art that I most associated with or most loved was silver smithing, wood smithing, pottery, metal shop and automobile work”.

So, what came after school for Joe? “I started doing professional pottery immediately after high school [1976] and I started a range of wares that were popular amongst a sub set of the culture but then decided against continuing a professional career in pottery and wanted to study at university, which I couldn’t afford and I took advantage of [an education] programme in the military.”

Afterwards, he started teaching. Was it about being for another student, what his craft teachers were for him? “I wanted to set that seed and yes that’s what happened.”

“I believe my police and military training I have gathered that strict clarity in teaching that I find was the real answer to bring Pottery Shed to people.”

Pottery is an extremely tactile craft, with palpable emotions emerging from the kneading of clay. “[Pottery] absolutely draws you in, restricting other thoughts; pulling together your centred-ness and focus,” says Darling, “It would have been the thing that would have kept me out of my possibly troubled youth.”

Darling has also achieved significant goals when it comes to The Pottery Shed’s influence on people. “I am affecting a great deal of people with this seed also letting them experience a little bit of this in their life,” he says cheerfully, “A lot of people don’t have a focus or they are misguided through so many distractions in life and it’s never clear until you find or do you see what the opposite really is. So that clarity comes to people often with this experience but they don’t necessarily have to take it up.”

And his rule on Ghost re-enactments? Darling has a strict policy, plus a ready at hand lecture and a ‘demonstration piece’: “There is a $5 penalty for that word and then we have to clarify exactly what the reason behind Ghost is that has been society’s fascination.”

“It’s not pottery. It’s female orgasm and you see we have to talk about this because it’s an issue that’s been left behind with my clan for far too long.”

If you’d like to take part in one of the classes, buy some pottery, or even see the mysterious Ghost “demonstration piece”, visit The Pottery Shed website. Pottery is for sale there or at Glebe Point Road Markets.

You can book a tour of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills here

Interview With Jimmy Saruchera from Surry Hills Creative Precinct

In the build up to Mother’s Day we sat down with creatives, business owners and curators from selection of some of our favourite spots in Sydney to get their tips for a cliche free, thoroughly unique Mother’s Day!

Filled to the brim with contemporary galleries, cafes. Bars and ultra chic boutiques, Surry Hills is a culture lover’s dream! With so many wonderful places to treat your mum, we spoke to the President of the Surry Hills Creative Precinct, Jimmy Saruchera to discuss some of his favourite spots.

Can you tell us a bit about the Surry Hills Creative Precinct?
The mission of the Surry Hills Creative Precinct is to make Surry Hills a great place to do business and the location of choice for skilled creative people to live, work and visit. We collaborate with a broad range of partners that range from small local businesses, international companies, city and state government, community groups and major events to promote local businesses, develop infrastructure, increase visitor attraction and create a sense of community amongst business owners based in Surry Hills.

Why is Surry Hills a good place to spend Mother's Day?
In Surry Hills you are almost guaranteed to give mum a unique experience she won't get in many places in Australia. Whether it’s Australia's first space-themed cat cafe, a sensational hairdo from internationally acclaimed hairdressers, chic fashion you won't get in a mass market mall or just great meal from Michelin starred restaurant, it’s all here and in easy walking distance.

What are some of your favourite lunch/brunch spots in Surry Hills?
I have many! But in particular I love Gratia especially because of the little gallery they have upstairs. I also really like the charming Kawa on Crown street.

What activities are there on offer in someone who is looking to do something outside the box for Mother's Day? Are there any galleries/boutiques etc that you would recommend?
For art you can't look past the Ray Hughes Gallery on Devonshire, they always show consistently inspiring contemporary art. I love Titles the record/book shop - it’s a tall order to fail to find something you like in there with lots of great gift options. I also particularly like the little boutique called "unique" that does simple remarkably well.

You can book one of our Darlinghurst and Surry Hills tours here.

Interview With Shari Knott from The Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale

In the build up to Mother’s Day we sat down with creatives, business owners and curators from selection of some of our favourite spots in Sydney to get their tips for a cliche free, thoroughly unique Mother’s Day!

It’s easy to see why the Old Clare has rapidly become central to Chippendale’s recent renaissance. Combining luxury, with history and beguiling design, the hotel has quickly become the residence of choice for some of Sydney’s most fascinating visitors. But it’s appeal extends beyond its role as a traditional hotel. With a buzzing bar located in the lobby, and relationships with Sydney’s most innovative restaurants, Kensington Street Social and Automata, the venue has become a fast favourite for Sydney locals.

We sat down the Shari Knott from the Old Clare to get her tips for a stylish, and thoroughly original Mother’s Day.

Can you tell us a bit about the relationship between The Old Clare, Kensington Street Social and Automata?
The Old Clare Hotel and the two restaurants live under the same roof, and although they are separate businesses we still work together and share resources to offer great experience to our guests.

Is there anything special (or more special than usual!) happening at any of the venues for Mother's Day?
Yes, indeed! We’re putting on quite the feast for all the amazing and inspiring women out there.

The hotel will host a morning yoga and meditation class with instructor Kristy da Silva. We are also collaborating with Lauren Hung from The Black Line to host a calligraphy class as the perfect workshop for mothers and daughters.

Since it’s also a festive day we’ve arranged a rosé and champagne bar with Kensington Street Social and make your own mini pavlova stand within the main linkway (foyer). Additionally, Thomas Puttick will be showcasing his new line ahead of MBFWA, also in our linkway, open to everyone.

Basically, we’ve got your afternoon covered, just leave it up to Old Clare to keep you entertained.

All details: http://www.theoldclarehotel.com.au/whats-on/?event=mother-s-day

What are some of your favourite items on the menu at Kensington Street Social and Automata?
At Kensington Street Social you can’t go wrong with their brunch, now available both Saturday and Sunday (also on Mother’s Day of course). The Tataki Hiramasa kingfish will always be my favourite, and for something larger, currently the Swordfish or Wagyu tri-tip are delicious!

http://kensingtonstreetsocial.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/KSS-ALC-30.03.2017.pdf

As for Automata, just eat whatever Clayton puts in front of you, it’s bound to blow your mind. The 5-course menu is updated every week, so we tend to find excuses to go there as often as possible.

I also recommend the 3-course lunch menu available Fridays and Saturdays, it’s a fun way to end the week and entertain clients with great food!

After enjoying a meal at Kensington Street Social, or Automata, or a drink at the Clare Bar, what are some activities around Chippendale that you would recommend for Mothers Day?

Aside from the drinks and pavlova in our linkway?
White Rabbit Gallery always has great exhibitions, currently they’re showcasing “The Dark Matters”.

And if you’re still up for more drinks, Handpicked Wines has great cheese to accompany your wine tasting. Let’s face it, cheese is always a good option.

You can book our Chippendale and Redfern tour here.

Interview With David Williams from White Rabbit Gallery

In the build up to Mother’s Day we sat down with creatives, business owners and curators from selection of some of our favourite spots in Sydney to get their tips for a cliche free, thoroughly unique Mother’s Day!

Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery is one of our favourite spots on our Chippendale walking tour. The gallery has earned international acclaim for its dazzling collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Unlike other galleries, it does not have a permanent collection, instead housing a constantly changing, cutting edge exhibitions, each more fascinating than the last.

If that wasn’t enough, the Gallery also houses an utterly charming tea room, and design boutique, making it the perfect place to take a creatively inclined mother. We sat down with curator David Williams to discuss their latest exhibition, his favourite things about the tea room, boutique and his favourite spots in Redfern.

Can you tell us a bit about the current exhibition at White Rabbit?
“The Dark Matters” explores the ways contemporary Chinese artists are using the classical Chinese palette of grey, black and white in their practice. The ancient Chinese got their ink from smoky oil lamps, brushing away deposited soot and mixing it into a paste that hardened into “stones”. This black was pure, indelible and did not fade, and they fell in love with it. They used it not only for writing but for painting, which they saw as just another way to express their thoughts. By adjusting the ink’s dilution and the density of their brushstrokes, painters could create a multitude of shades, from deepest blue-black to palest dove grey. Black had always been the colour of mystery, night, the void. The better the artists got to know black ink, the more superficial, even gaudy, colour seemed. As the Daoist philosopher Laozi declared: “Colours cause the eye to go blind.” Black—utterly simple yet infinitely subtle—allowed one to see the truth.

Chinese artists no longer live in a simple, natural, orderly world. They get their blacks not just from ink stones but from printer cartridges, spray cans, propane torches, X-ray film, newsprint, polyester, computer bits and steel. And they use blacks to convey realities the classical masters never dreamed of: oil spills, air pollution, megacities, mass production and political machinations. The artists in this show don’t shun light or colour, but in using them they follow Laozi’s advice: “Know the white, but hold to the black.” Containing more than ever, the dark also conceals more than ever. And it matters more than ever that we see.

What are some of your favourite items on the menu at the White Rabbit Tea House?
I can’t get enough of the Chicken and Coriander Dumplings with a pot of Ginseng Oolong tea. Delicious.  Although our new gluten-free Organic Tofu and Coriander dumplings with a Lychee Iced Tea comes a very close second.

Other than coming to the exhibition, what are some other ways people can incorporate the White Rabbit into a Mother’s Day gift? Do you have any favourite items in the White Rabbit shop?
A trip to the Gallery and a treat for Mum in the Tea House has become a tradition for many of our visitors, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with your Mum and then have a chat about the exhibition in the Tea House. We have quite a few gifts that are unique to our Gallery Shop, such as ornamental plates and silk scarves from the artist Bu Hua. Late last year we sourced the really terrific Lumio lights and they have proven to be really popular gifts, I couldn’t resist buying one for my house. The great thing about the shop is that all budgets are covered, from $1 to over $1000. It’s going to be too late for Mother’s Day, but we will are waiting for a delivery of limited edition works by the artist Xu Zhen, they will only be available at eh White Rabbit in Australia so I can’t wait to show them off!

What are some of your favourite things to do in Redfern and Chippendale after a visit to the gallery?
There is so much to do in the area now. Terrific cafes and bars and Spice Alley is a definite must. It’s always great to visit the local Chippendale Galleries like Pom Pom, Ambush and The Commercial. And having Carriageworks so close to us makes it a great place to visit after seeing the White Rabbit.

You can book your tour of Chippendale and Redfern here.

Artist: Yang Mushi

Artist: Yang Mushi

Outdoors Art: Nature Edition - Sculpture At Scenic World

By now, you’ve probably all seen the gorgeous images of deep, crisp snow coming out from the Snowy Mountains and in Victoria’s Highlands, and experienced serious winter FOMO.

Although snow may be rare up in Sydney that same feeling of chilled relaxation isn’t. The sixth annual Sculpture at Scenic World has opened in the Blue Mountains; showcasing a stunning display of  immersive, nature-based artworks.

Artists such as Elyssa Sykes Smith, Marta Ferracin, Chris Bennie, and Elin & Keino are displaying their stunning ability to create art that complements, yet is at odds with its natural surroundings. Pale strings are stretched translucently between trees, while coloured glass reflects gaudy light through the trees.

As the weather gets colder, it is the perfect time to escape the hustle of the city and experience the natural beauty Sydney’s surrounding bushlands.

Remember: art is everywhere! If you’d like to be tipped off about more art out and about, book one of our tours.

Chris Bennie

Chris Bennie

Elin & Keino

Elin & Keino

Emily Kaar

Emily Kaar

Harrie Fasher

Harrie Fasher

Jody Graham

Jody Graham

Kevina Jo-Smith

Kevina Jo-Smith

Louis Pratt

Louis Pratt

Louisa Magrics

Louisa Magrics

Mark Surtees

Mark Surtees

Claire Becker

Claire Becker

Marta Ferracin

Marta Ferracin

Sally Kidall

Sally Kidall

Sally Simpson

Sally Simpson

Selena Seifert & Chris Wellwood

Selena Seifert & Chris Wellwood

Interview With Kristina Karasula

We sat down with Cultural Development Officer at Redfern Community Centre, and longtime Redfern local, Kristina Karasula.

What is it like being Redfern community manager?
It's a wonderful diverse role that allows me the privilege to create meaningful engagement opportunities between people, communities and organisation

Who are some of your favourite artists? What attracts you to their work?
Tony Albert - for his quirky and poignant use of pop iconic items that play into history Adam Hill - local original political insightful Del Kathryn Barton colourful - reflect family - life - ongoing process never complete Dorothy Napangardi - deep emotive and meaningful, love the use of blacks whites greys subtle but powerful.

What top 3 things would you recommend to a visitor in Redfern?
The community street murals; the community centre; 107 Projects; and the quirky bars and cafes.

Interview With Justin Johnstone (MONA)

We caught up with MONA’s Front of House Manager, Justin Johnstone to get a behind the scenes look at MONA and Dark MOFO. Justin regaled us with stories of debaucherous parties, fabulous exhibitions, and his tips for a first time trip to Dark MOFO.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at MONA/ Dark MOFO?
My job title is Front of House manager however it has entailed far more than I'd ever imagined before I started seven or so years ago.

Basically I'm responsible for the Front of House team that includes both the Ticketing and Gallery Attendant teams and for the Visitor experience at Mona and for the Festivals Mofo and Dark Mofo (120 or so staff at Mona and an additional 60 or so during the festivals).  However I also host VIPs, coordinate with the F&B team for Functions and Events on site and off.

The most memorable moments have included the Marina Abramovic exhibition opening at Mona (4,500 or so visitors) and the Mike Parr exhibition ‘Asylum’ that was held in an old mental asylum in New Norfolk that required our team to work during the 72 hour performance in the middle of winter in a remote location (it rained, hailed and snowed).

I've also co ordinated Nude tours of the museum (curated by Stuart Ringholt), fed Cloaca professional (the shit machine) and worked on the door at the Festival after parties Faux Mo and Black List until 4am (looking out for David Walsh, David Burn and local politician David O’Bynre all of whom were on the guest list) before heading down to Sandy Bay to help with the Solstice Nude swim.  Fortunately we've developed a great team of experienced and generally unflappable supervisors and front of house staff.  I am very much in the habit of calling in plenty of favours from staff at all times of the day and night during the festivals.

The Dark MOFO festivities seem to be in conversation with the unique environment in Hobart. What do you think the relationship is between the festival and its location?
Dark Mofo exploded the myth that you can't succeed with getting the locals out in winter or attracting visitors in winter.

With a range of large scale public artworks, performances and events based around the themes of the Winter Solstice, lightness and dark and a range of free programming it has allowed festival goers to experience the waterfront and historic Salamanca areas in winter (regardless of the weather) and shone a light on previously unexplored areas such as Dark Park at Macquarie Point (adjacent to the Art School), the catacombs under Battery Point park and under the Town Hall used as exhibition spaces or the Detached Gallery in the basement of the Old Mercury Building for the Patricia Piccinini show.

Is there anything in particular that you're looking forward to at the festival this year?
The program hasn't been made public yet (and even I haven't been given any specific insights yet) however Winter Feast is on and a highlight for a high standard of food, drinks and performances (Moo Brew, Moorilla Wine and cocktails, Tassie whiskies and food vendors such as Get Shucked oysters and Lady Hester donuts).

Black List Nightclub is likely to be on again and in addition there is always a special event highlight in the program.  Last year it was the Funeral Party - a gothic costume ball evening of cocktails, music and debauchery (a live embalming, performances from TSO choir and then DJ Chelsea Wolf and live band, Itchy ) that was held in a genuine funeral parlour.  Dark Park will be re worked and in a sense is the festival hub.

What is your advice to someone attending Dark MOFO for the first time?
Download the app and rest before you get here as you're not likely to get much sleep while you're here ... and maybe bring a puffer jacket.

BOOK HERE to come on our trip to Dark MOFO

Interview With Bryon Merzeo

Bryon Merzeo

Bryon Merzeo

Art, travel and culture enthusiast Bryon Merzeo has been taking like-minded groups of travellers to Hobart to experience Dark MOFO for the past two years, and has been attending the festival for even longer. Now a seasoned festival-goer, with an eye for great art, food and wine as well as an infectious enthusiasm, he is the perfect person to have on hand to navigate the weird and wonderful world of Dark MOFO.

We caught up with Bryon to get a sneak preview of his plans for this years trip.

What made you decide to run the Dark Mofo tours?
For the past two years I've organized and hosted groups down to Hobart and everyone has such a great time, including me! Having met Emilya [the founder and director of Culture Scouts] and sharing our passion for MONA and unique culture events, I think that this is an excellent opportunity for Culture Scouts to explore a new and fascinating festival and city.

What is have been the highlights of Dark Mofo for the past few years you've been going?
Hobart comes alive for the festival, with large scale and free events happening all the time.  The Winter Feas must be my favourite, where dozens of local artisan food and beverage suppliers come together and create a dazzling array to sample, along with MONA's touch of art and music as a backdrop.

Is there anything that you are particularly looking forward to this year?
With the opening of Hobart Brewing company right next to Dark Park, and their outdoor fire pits in the winter, I can't wait to try their seasonal brews before exploring the art.

There is an option to extend the trip, and spend a couple of days road tripping around rural Tasmania. What parts of that are you most excited about?
The road trip from Launceston to Hobart will be exceptional. I tested this out last year with a small group, and it was a real highlight.  We will visit Iron House Brewery and spend the night in their ocean side villas (I must like craft breweries!) and then bushwalk at Wineglass bay before a lunch at Devil’s Corner vineyard with fresh oysters.  It's a brilliant way to see the real Tasmania, before arriving in Hobart for the festival.

BOOK HERE to come on our trip to Dark MOFO

Interview With Art Month

For the duration of March, Art Month Sydney casts the spotlight on Sydney's contemporary galleries, art and artists through a diverse, and always thought-provoking program of exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, artists studio visits, tours, precinct nights and more.

As we prepare for the exciting, art filled month ahead we caught up with Program Director, Samantha Watson-Wood and Festival Manager, Mary Wenholz to discuss how the festival comes together, their tips for enjoying Art Month, Sydney's contemporary art scene and more!

Samantha Watson-Wood, Program Director

Samantha Watson-Wood, Program Director

Mary Wenholz, Festival Manager

Mary Wenholz, Festival Manager

As the Festival Manager and Program Director of Art Month Sydney, what do your respective roles entail?
Sam: As Program Director, I oversee the program and develop content. I work with partners on creative activations and curate the Art Bars in collaboration with the Artistic Director, Barry Keldoulis.
Mary: As Festival manager, I look after the event management, working closely with the City of Sydney and the galleries to ensure a smooth running event.

What is the best part of your job? 
Sam: Working with artists to create an immersive experience in interesting spaces for Sydney’s event goers.
Mary: Contributing to Sydney’s creative economy

What made you want to become involved with Art Month?
While this is only the second edition of the festival that we have produced, the team here at Art Fairs Australia have all been huge fans of Art Month for years and loved attending the festival each March. We see Art Month as an important cultural event for Sydney siders as it gives contemporary art the spotlight for the duration of the festival. It was exciting when we got the chance to actually put an Art Month festival together in 2016 and we are really excited about what the 2017 festival has in store for everyone.

Do you have a particular event, or exhibition that you are most excited about?
All of the galleries have put together an amazing program of exhibitions, it’s hard to pick just one! Our hot tip is to grab some friends each Wednesday for the Art at Night events, it’s a great way to discover new galleries and artists in Sydney’s different precincts, before finishing the evening at the Art Bar by Cake Wines for an evening of art, performances and all round fun.

What is your advice to someone who is planning their Art Month schedule?
The Art Month website is your gateway to a world of art and creativity this March. You can either peruse the program via the calendar, selecting a particular date to see what is happening. Alternatively, pick one of the program categories and see just how much Sydney has to offer! Make sure you sign up to the Art Month e-newsletter, via our website, for your weekly hit of program highlights. With so much happening as part of the festival, make sure you get planning now.

You have both worked extensively in the arts overseas, how does Sydney compare? What is your favourite part about the arts and culture in Sydney?
Sam: It is a harder process getting creative pursuits up and running in Sydney but it is worth the effort. Sydney’s art scene although smaller is at an international standard with practitioners making challenging and interesting work. Events like Art Month are important to showcase this and year after year prove there is a hungry audience for it.
Mary: Sydney stands up as a leading cultural global city and I think that the Sydney artists operate with a freshness and a level of enthusiasm that is uniquely Australian.

Book now for Culture Scouts exclusive Art Month tours by clicking here.