Peta Kruger on reimagining jewellery in Steam Mill Lane

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Peta Kruger on reimagining jewellery in Steam Mill Lane

Bright, angular and playful, Peta Kruger’s style is distinctive. She hails from Adelaide, where an internship at Jam Factory studios for design developed into a full-time career as a jewellery artist. Earlier this year, Kruger was approached by Lendlease to reinterpret her tiny artworks into large scale installations suspended above Steam Mill Lane in Ultimo. From intimate, wearable art to bold floating structures, we chatted to her about the process of re-imagining her practice, and bringing her bright colourful work into the Darling Square precinct.

If you'd like to see and learn more about the artworks for yourself, join us on a Tastes and Sights of Chinatown Tour.

You’re a jewellery artist and this is your first public work. From making very small pieces you’ve now tackled a large scale project. What inspired you to take this on?

I hadn’t really considered making large public works but Lendlease approached me and they thought my jewellery would be interesting and different at such a scale. It’s basically what I do on a small scale but tenfold. I think there’s a nice connection there, I’m most interested in public art. Quite often they’re just big pieces plonked in spaces and I like something that comes from an intimate place. Jewellery is an intimate little artwork that you can wear and it says something about you. I hope some of that intimacy translates to the space. You can walk around them and it hopefully makes the space more inviting. It gives you a sense of the character of the lane and I think that’s what jewellery does on a person too.

 Photo courtesy of Aspect Studios.

Photo courtesy of Aspect Studios.

What brief were you given for this work in Steam Mill Lane?

The brief was quite open. But a response to the site was important. They identified the area as culturally rich and historically layered. I also saw it as a space that’s been constantly transformed. So it’s a nod to those ideas and I interpreted that with the day and night element of the work. I also just wanted to create an intimate space in the laneway, enticing people to stay a while and identify it as a place of discovery. And by having different views of the artworks by day and night, I thought it would encourage people to return and see the place completely transformed.

How does the work change?

During the day they look like abstract signage made from geometric panels. Then at night those colour panels darken in the twilight, and the lights inside shine through the gaps and illuminate them in a different way.

 Photo courtesy of Peta Kruger

Photo courtesy of Peta Kruger

Is there a particular sentiment/message, personal or otherwise, behind the work you have created?

I think it’s important to me that the work is open to other people’s interpretation. I think the meaning is always changing in public spaces and now that it’s up I look at it with a new interest to see what it’s doing. I quite like the way the pieces float. I like that when you look up at the artworks and see how they are situated against the architecture and the surrounding space you see a new composition. And since it was installed I thought of the title “Night and Day” which is in reference to a song by Cole Porter, famously sung by Fred Astaire. And I just like the idea that city night lights are quite romantic, and the turning on and off of them, almost infinitely, is like a heartbeat of a city, that repetition. I also realised that the floating has a nice connection to the water in the harbour. It’s hard to represent all these ideas but I think abstractly they’re there if you look for it. I keep finding new meanings.  

Were there challenges in reinterpreting your work this way?

Absolutely, challenges at every stage. At the same time, the whole team couldn’t have been more helpful in realising what I had envisioned. A lot of metalworkers fabricate and manage whole projects themselves whereas I was able to step back and look at the look and feel of them. And then we had experts in every area work on the engineering and the fabricating of the pieces. So there were already master craftsmen in different areas so I was very lucky to have access to their skills. And didn’t go through trial and error which is what I’ve had to do in the 10 years of my jewellery practice.

 Photo courtesy of Aspect Studios.

Photo courtesy of Aspect Studios.

Do you want to explore public large scale works further? Do you foresee other works like this down the track?

Possibly. I love designing. It just depends on all the right conditions. This one was really an amazing opportunity. Especially the way Lendlease allowed me to think about the whole space without many limitations. I’m lucky to have such an experience so it will be hard to find something better than that.  

How did you come become a jewellery artist?

I’d met friends in jewellery who sparked my interest in it. And I found it satisfied my itch to tinker with metal in a shed. Jewellery encompasses fashion and a bit of design and mathematics, so it blends all my interests into one.

How is your jewellery practice evolving? What’s next for you?

I’ve actually got a show in Canberra at the moment, a selection of jewellery with some connection to the artwork in Steam Mill Lane. After that I’m going to continue my masters in jewellery by research. I’m looking at the way jewellery can be a network to connect people, for example wedding rings is something we’re all familiar with and it connects you to your partner but it also connects you to the wider concept of marriage in society. And if you think of it abstractly, they’re almost like nodes, invisible links between us. I came across this interesting word, in ancient greek the word “cosmos” meant the universe and it also meant jewellery. So maybe back then, they also considered jewellery to be meaningful, it wasn’t as flippant as an accessory - maybe it meant something deeper. I’m making jewellery and reflecting on that, and connecting it to bits of history and finding unusual references.  

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Culture Scouts does Luxperience in Style

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Culture Scouts does Luxperience in Style

 For the biggest luxury travel event you need to be in proximity to the best sights. Photo: Lauren Epbath

For the biggest luxury travel event you need to be in proximity to the best sights. Photo: Lauren Epbath

The sun sparkled on the Sydney foreshore this week. But good weather was just one reason to be basking in the glorious harbour. Our sunny city also played host to the annual Luxury Travel Event, Luxperience, at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. I was attending on behalf of Culture Scouts, taking part in discussions with travel professionals from all over to world with the aim of promoting our city as a cultural tourism destination.  

 It looks like a speed dating event, but it’s actually hundreds of travel professionals sharing their product!

It looks like a speed dating event, but it’s actually hundreds of travel professionals sharing their product!

The conference began with chandeliers and champagne in the Ivy ballroom. A keynote speech from computer engineer and ABC television personality Dr Jordan Nguyen, had us considering the role technology plays in the growth and innovation of the travel industry. Wines and canapes continued at the official launch party at Merivale’s Ivy, complete with live music and a dumpling chef.

 Hundreds of travel agents from all over the world meet to discuss ideas. Photo: Lauren Epbath

Hundreds of travel agents from all over the world meet to discuss ideas. Photo: Lauren Epbath

Those who had a little too many wines at the opening party sought solace at the ONA coffee station, Canberra’s largest specialty roaster and coffee supplier and possibly the most popular booth in the entire venue. The sound of ringing bells on the intercom kicked off day one, where countless agents met with travel product exhibitors in 15 minute intervals. Imagine hundreds of tables scattered across the expansive exhibition centre - if you didn’t know you were at a luxury tourism conference you’d think it was corporate speed dating.

 Delicious coffee and service with a smile. Keep a look out for ONA Coffee.

Delicious coffee and service with a smile. Keep a look out for ONA Coffee.

Day two was another stunner in the harbour, the smell of sea water and slight haze of salty air is a sight unique to the Sydney CBD. It’s no wonder this Sydney hosts some of the most important events in Tourism every year. After a morning of appointments, I made my way to the Business Seminar “Luxury Market Insights Panel Discussion” hosted by Mumbrella. A panel of industry experts gave interesting insights into trends into the luxury market in light of changes in social media engagement. There was just enough time to change into cocktail attire for the Tuesday night social at the MCA.

 Celebrating in style at the MCA, the Culture Scouts team are on the right. Photo: Lauren Epbath

Celebrating in style at the MCA, the Culture Scouts team are on the right. Photo: Lauren Epbath

The final day was a flurry of meetings and presentations, with just enough time for a cheeky neck massage in the pamper lounge with Sasy n Savy. As the final bell rang and we put down our business cards and picked up the champagne for one final celebration together during the wrap party.

 Our little set up at Luxperience! What a success, looking forward to next year.

Our little set up at Luxperience! What a success, looking forward to next year.

What an incredible week! It was fantastic meeting such interesting professionals from all over the world. Culture Scouts enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive reception, we’re so excited to be putting Sydney on the map for cultural experiences globally. See you again next year at Luxperience.

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Our Pick for the Best Vintage Shops in Sydney

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Our Pick for the Best Vintage Shops in Sydney

There’s more to shopping in Sydney than the towering malls of Pitt Street. If you’re looking for a clothing experience that doesn’t leave you with a fear of the inner city, and a large Gucci-sized hole in your bank account, then it’s time you ventured into Sydney’s suburbs for some hidden vintage treasures. If up-cycled fashion, pre-loved luxury and the faint musk of aged leather is your thing, you will want to get stuck into our favourite vintage shops. Based on years of scouring Sydney’s suburbs for the best bargains and undisclosed fashion labels, we have prepared a list of all the best places to get lost in antique fashion in Sydney.

Cream on King
317 King St, Newtown

Just opposite Newtown station on King Street, Cream is a staple of vintage fashion in the epicentre of the Inner West. Along with its counterpart of the same owner “Cream on Crown” in Surry Hills, Cream on King specialises in modern tailoring to give vintage pieces a new lease on life. At Cream you will find cheap denim that fits right, button up shirts in ridiculous patterns and lots of those garishly printed t-shirts that are enjoying a timely comeback.

Uturn Recycled Fashion
242 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville

Uturn takes more of a traditional “needle in a haystack” approach to vintage. The huge store (which you can also find in Surry Hills) is stacked to the brim of obscure 70s leather and enough fur to line Russia. It takes a little bit more sifting to find a gem in Uturn - but the search is all part of the journey. Come to Uturn if you want to find an outrageous, mid-priced party costume, any kind of sturdy vintage jacket or surprisingly, a practical pair of shoes.

C’s Flashback
314 Crown St, Surry Hills

C's Flashback has been in the vintage game for a long time, and it’s a staple visit on any trip down Crown Street. It’s got an impressive collection jackets, shirts and swimwear, as well as some unique one-off accessories like killer cat-eye glasses. Don’t forget to head downstairs into the basement to rifle through an entire floor of vintage leather and fur jackets and coats.

Zoo Emporium
180 Campbell St, Surry Hills

A stone’s throw from C’s Flashback, Zoo Emporium should be your next stop on the Surry Hills vintage trail. This shop is bursting with vintage fashion from all ages, but with special attention given to 20s and 30s fashion. This is an excellent stop to find the perfect bead-encrusted dress for your next rave, or an extravagant hat to wear around the house in your dressing gown. Don’t miss the accessories display at the front, there's enough recycled gemstones there to make anyone’s day.

Potts Point Vintage
2/8A Hughes St, Potts Point

If furs, wedding dresses and English fine china are your thing, look no further. Potts Point says it how it is - good vintage, in Potts Point. The little store is packed with big looks for mid range to cheap prices. Curated fashion is at it’s best in this suburb, and this vintage shop is a must visit.

St Vincent’s De Paul
292 Oxford St, Paddington

 

Oxford street is known and loved for it’s outrageous bars and flamboyant gay culture. It comes as no surprise then, that this Vinnies is the most fabulous of op shops in all of the inner and eastern suburbs. This is vintage goodness at seriously cheap prices. Hidden in and amongst the usual study hand-me-downs you can find feather boas, sparkly tops and ridiculously high shoes. Visit this Vinnies thrift store if you want a small dose of Paddington’s colourful culture.

Love Story Vintage
404 Oxford st, Paddington

Love Story is the elusive cool kid of Sydney vintage. Love Story began sporadically at markets and in a pop up shops, but now resides permanently in Paddington. Owner Liz has a long term love affair with vintage luxury clothing - Chanel, Versace, Gucci - she has travelled the world sourcing genuine pieces, all of which are authenticated before they go on the floor. Currently, she specialises in vintage Chanel bags, clothing and jewellery from the 90s. It is literally a love story for any luxury-lover with a budget to consider. You can find this gold mine nestled up on the Paddington end of Oxford Street.

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40,000 years more in Redfern

Anyone who passed through Redfern earlier this year would have seen a team of Indigenous artists, TAFE students and conservationists tracing and repainting the famous 40 Thousand Years artwork that runs along the length of Redfern Station.

The mural is named after Murri musician Joe Geia’s lyrics, “40,000 years is a long, long time… 40,000 still on my mind…” In the heart of Redfern and a gateway to The Block, it has long been an urban welcoming point for Indigenous peoples.

 Upgrade banners adorned the wall opposite Redfern station for over a month. Photo by Lily Keenan 

Upgrade banners adorned the wall opposite Redfern station for over a month. Photo by Lily Keenan 

Originally painted in 1983, the 300 foot mural was designed by the artist and filmmaker Carol Ruff. She enlisted the help of well-known indigenous artist Tracey Moffatt and members of the local Eora TAFE college to complete the collaborative mural.

It acknowledges and celebrates the deep indigenous connections to Redfern and the greater Sydney area. The Rainbow Serpent symbolises creation at one end, while at the other, the Redfern All Blacks (winners of the 1979 NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout) stand proudly together as if posing for a photo. The wall also depicts darker moments; a child stands alone in front of a church mission. A symbol of the Stolen Generations.

 Artists Tracey Moffat and Avril Quaill painting the 40,000 Years in 1983. Photograph by Carol Ruff courtesy of Barani

Artists Tracey Moffat and Avril Quaill painting the 40,000 Years in 1983. Photograph by Carol Ruff courtesy of Barani

“The north entrance to the station used to be the only one,” says local Sydney activist and muralist, Jason Wing, who is part of the restoration project. “[The mural] communicates ease, familiarity – a pride of place.” But after 34 years, the paint was cracking. Words were faded. It was never made to be resilient to decades of wear.

It was local community member Desley Haas who initiated the restoration project back in 2013. A member of the Redfern Station Community Group (RSCG), Haas approach NSW Rail Corp (owners of the wall on which the mural is painted) to address the mural’s decaying condition. The City of Sydney awarded a $10,000 matching grant to the project in 2016, and a further $38,000 towards the in 2017. Haas steered the RSCG over the five years it has taken to realise the project.

 Paint colours are matched using photos from the original mural taken in the 80s. Photo by Lily Keenan

Paint colours are matched using photos from the original mural taken in the 80s. Photo by Lily Keenan

The restoration team reflects the spirit of the mural’s original creators – including the original artist Ruff, local Indigenous artists, and students from the Eora TAFE and Richard Lucas – a “master copier” who lead the replication of the mural. Using photocopies from the original mural in the 80s, Lucas created a gridding system to guide the restoration one panel at a time.

“What differs this time is there’s a sense of actually recreating history or contributing to history and that’s been a common feeling from the artists,” says Jason.

 Artist Jason Wing in front of one of his murals in Chinatown. Photo by Daniel Boyd

Artist Jason Wing in front of one of his murals in Chinatown. Photo by Daniel Boyd

“We’re contributing to something significant, which the first guys painting the mural, I don’t think they would have realised the power and the significance and relevance historically. And it’s even more important now because of the gentrification of Redfern. It shows now that there’s a lack of Aboriginal presence in Redfern whereas this used to be the hub.”

This iconic work has a breath of fresh life after years of significant deterioration. Standing at the heart of one of the most historically and culturally significant areas in Sydney, it’s a landmark now set to stand for 40,000 years more.

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Our Highlights from The Auckland Art Fair

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Our Highlights from The Auckland Art Fair

The Auckland Art Fair is a favourite in our bi-annual calendar. It brings the vibrant creative scene of New Zealand together under one roof to showcase works, share ideas and celebrate the arts industry in all its forms. Creative entrepreneurs and up-and-comers mix in with established industry leaders to provide a diverse week of shows, workshops, events, performance and market stalls. All on the stunning waterfront of Auckland’s urban centre.

With more than 45 galleries and 180 artists from nine countries, there was no shortage of creative activities for the art-lovers and collectors to immerse themselves in. If you missed the fair this year, check out our highlights below. And get in touch if you’d like to experience the Auckland Art Fair 2019 on a Culture Scouts tour in May next year.

The Cloud
What better building to house international artists than a work of art itself? The Cloud on the Auckland waterfront by architects Jasmax is home to the Auckland Art Fair. The space is a truly spectacular collaboration of some of New Zealand's best design talent. It’s hard not to be awestruck by the high-gloss faceted, folding feature walls.

 The Cloud played host to this years Auckland Art Fair.

The Cloud played host to this years Auckland Art Fair.

 The impressive design cascades in folds down the Auckland waterfront. Image: Wood & Pepper

The impressive design cascades in folds down the Auckland waterfront. Image: Wood & Pepper

Gibb’s Farm
Visiting Gibb's Farm you expect (and are blown away by) the incredible sculptures that have made it world famous. The expansive open-air sculpture park is located in the beautiful Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland on the privately owned property of art collector Alan Gibbs. It features large-scale outdoor artworks and a series of major site-specific commissions by some of the world's most renowned artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Serra and Anish Kapoor.  Keep on the watch for the loveable roaming farm animals too.

 Anish Kapoor's 'Dismemberment, Site 1' on Gibbs Farm. It towers over the viewer at 25 metres high and 85 metres long. 

Anish Kapoor's 'Dismemberment, Site 1' on Gibbs Farm. It towers over the viewer at 25 metres high and 85 metres long. 

 Culture Scouts braved the crisp cold to explore the sculptural wonderland. 

Culture Scouts braved the crisp cold to explore the sculptural wonderland. 

From Pillars to Posts: Project Another Country, Auckland Art Gallery
From Pillars to Posts: Project Another Country by artistic husband-and-wife team Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan is a participatory and community based artwork commissioned for Auckland Art Gallery’s Todd Foundation Creative Learning Centre. It explores community, family, relocation and homemaking, and is part of an ongoing series of site-specific projects that use art-making to prompt conversations about what makes a home; all made by local children and gallery visitors.  Small sculptural recycled cardboard box homes littered the gallery corridors meandering up walls, forming laneways and islands of constructions, creating an immersive work that triggered stories and a sense of belonging. Culture Scouts happily rolled up their sleeves to sit down and create their dream cardboard house armed with sticky tape and glue.

 Thousands of unique, individually made 'homes' adorn the room for this collaborative community project.

Thousands of unique, individually made 'homes' adorn the room for this collaborative community project.

 The personality of each work shines through, we couldn't help but contribute a 'home' of our own. 

The personality of each work shines through, we couldn't help but contribute a 'home' of our own. 

Soapbox Symposium
At the Soapbox Symposium with John Reynolds, Art Fair punters and experts can come and talk, one-to-one with the artist himself. John is one of New Zealand’s most loved senior contemporary artists and chatting to him for 20 minutes, we can see why! All topics and communication styles are welcome, from conjecture, idle talk and maybe even an earful on any topic of your choice. Of course John encourages a cup of coffee from local baristas and roasters Coffee Supreme to “enhance the art making impulse”, proving that Auckland is firmly positioned as a coffee capital! If you would like to view some of John’s stunning paintings wander up to the Auckland Art Gallery!

 The Soapbox Symposium, speak to an artist about a topic of your choice.

The Soapbox Symposium, speak to an artist about a topic of your choice.

 We grabbed a coffee and braved a conversation with well-known New Zealand contemporary artist, John Reynolds. 

We grabbed a coffee and braved a conversation with well-known New Zealand contemporary artist, John Reynolds. 

PAULNACHE Gallery and Parlour Projects
Virginia Leonard’s conceptual multi-stacked clay and resin sculptures were a stand out at the PAULNACHE Gallery booth in the fair. Installed at eye level, the works were both confronting and engaging, chaotically defying gravity, morphing between human, animal and plant. Virginia’s works are self portraits in response to the broken parts of her body. As a sufferer of chronic pain, her works both acknowledge the invisibility of this illness and give it an embodiment, a voice. “The language of my clay is my attempt to rid my body of trauma,” says Virginia. Further into the fair, The Parlour Project booth featured stunning works by Grace Wright.  Bright colours applied in thick ribbons to create loose lines that almost pop off the canvas. At only 24 years old, this artist is one to watch. 

 Virginia Leonard for PAULNACHE Gallery, Auckland Art Fair 

Virginia Leonard for PAULNACHE Gallery, Auckland Art Fair 

 Grace Wright for Parlour Projects, Auckland Art Fair

Grace Wright for Parlour Projects, Auckland Art Fair

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Meet Sogna Ocello from Formaggi Ocello

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Meet Sogna Ocello from Formaggi Ocello

 Sogna Ocello with a selection of cheeses in the Surry Hills store. Credit: Xiaohan Shen via Broadsheet

Sogna Ocello with a selection of cheeses in the Surry Hills store. Credit: Xiaohan Shen via Broadsheet

From humble market beginnings with hand-ladled goats cheese, to a Surry Hills store packed to the brim with local and exotic cheeses, Formaggi Ocello has come a long way. 

"We met a goat cheese farmer in our Restaurant 17 years ago who introduced us to the world of cheese by letting us taking over his stall at the Entertainment Quarter," says founder Sogna Ocello. Now, herself and her partner Carmelo stock over 250 cheeses, boasting the largest artisan cheese selection in Australia. 

They are determined to sell only the highest quality products, and each year Sogna and her team travel extensively throughout Europe to discover new cheeses for the Australian market. Their specialty is rare cheeses made in certain seasons at altitudes where animals roam freely and milk quality is at its best. "We source and import cheeses that are made traditionally on a small scale" says Sogna. Many of their suppliers use cheese recipes and techniques that have been passed down within one family for generations. 

Whether you're after a divine wine and cheese night, or a wedding cake made entirely from cheese (yes, Ocello make "cheese wheel" cakes), Formaggi Ocello is a must see in Surry Hills. 

Join us on tour to meet Sogna and see cheese at it's finest. And make sure you try Sogna's personal favourites, "All the Swiss melting cheeses and the Aged Swiss Gruyere!" 

For a range of cheese selections, condiments and platters, visit the Ocello online store.

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Culture Scouts Delves into Dark Mofo

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Culture Scouts Delves into Dark Mofo

  Everything to see in the unexpected at Hobart's Dark Mofo arts festival

Everything to see in the unexpected at Hobart's Dark Mofo arts festival

By Anabel Dean

The day after Culture Scouts completed its Dark Mofo arts festival tour of Tasmania there was a banner headline across the front page of The Mercury newspaper.

“Nothing to See Here,” it shouted in bold letters. The Australian artist Mike Parr had ended his performance ‘with a whimper’ after spending 72 hours buried in an underground tomb beneath Macquarie Street in Hobart.

While Parr was meditating, drawing and reading Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore, with air and water but no food, our intrepid band of Culture Scouts raged above ground in three heady days of festivities.

Our exploration of Dark Mofo – the midwinter music and arts festival produced by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – could not have been more different to that of Mike Parr. There was ‘everything to see’ in the unexpected, shocking, darkly amusing, weird and wonderful mix of high art and avante-garde, around a city that refuses to hibernate in winter. There was so much to eat, drink, experience and contemplate that we could have done with a few more days to restore balance before returning to Sydney.

  The fire pits of the Winter Feast are a warming hub at dark arts Mofo

The fire pits of the Winter Feast are a warming hub at dark arts Mofo

Dark Mofo, now in its sixth iteration, aims to unsettle. It invites visitors to revel in the frenetic energy that exists between opposite poles of light and dark; to get lost in creative expression; be bewildered and inspired and renewed.

For us, liberation and rejuvenation began the moment that we stepped away from the open fire at our elegant hotel, MACQ01, and into the dark unknown of a chilled winter’s night. It was cocktail hour and, like hundreds of other cultural tourists, we flocked to the docks (past the huge neon red, inverted crucifixes along the waterfront) for the opening of the coveted Winter Feast and Dark Park.

The wildly popular and kind-of pagan Winter Feast is the flaming centrepiece of Dark Mofo. Princes Wharf 1 was alive with foodie stallholders, as far as the eye could see, with offerings of top quality Tasmanian produce.

  Pagan revelry by candle light on the opening night of the Winter Feast

Pagan revelry by candle light on the opening night of the Winter Feast

Long candle-lit tables were held tightly so we wandered outside to roaring fire pits under trees festooned with lights. We embraced the wet weather – well, you had to really - and only the barbecue roasting of a whole Scottish Highland cow stopped conversation for longer than a few seconds. That, and an unexpected unearthing of MONA’s owner David Walsh in a curtained inner sanctum, where he observed that art appreciation is always best in a state of inebriation.

It probably depends which artwork you’re considering at any time but Dark Park, the public art playground at Macquarie Point, succeeded in its promise to shake the foundations of the seen and unseen, the natural and man-made world. Matthew Schreiber’s laser installation Leviathan, and United Visual Artists’ light and sound celestial installation Musical Universalis, might just end up being the two most repeated images on Instagram this year.

  Matthew Schreiber's Leviathan was a show stopper at Dark Park

Matthew Schreiber's Leviathan was a show stopper at Dark Park

Some of us ventured a little out of the CBD - and a hell-of-a-lot further from the real world - to experience The Chalkroom at Domain House. This virtual reality adventure in an empty building allowed us to fly through words and letters graffitied on walls in a 3D city of drawings and stories suspended in space. It was out there. As was Laurie Anderson’s offering upstairs called Drones, the sonic installation of amps and guitar feedback bouncing off walls, a project created with riffing from Lou Reed’s 1975 album Metal Machine Music.

Persistent rain failed to dampen spirits at Night Mass: the labyrinthine all-night cultural precinct featuring more than 100 performers across five venues, with dance, electronic, rock’n’roll, classical music, and a whole lot in between.

We were pleased that nocturnal revelry did not keep Culture Scouts from their early morning pilgrimage to the brightest hotspot of all: MONA. And what a way to start the next day. A chilled glass of champagne in a ferry posh pit (private lounge) with smoked trout and watermelon muesli canapés all the way down the Derwent River to Berriedale.

  Early morning champagne and canapes on the Posh Pit ferry ride to MONA

Early morning champagne and canapes on the Posh Pit ferry ride to MONA

MONA, of course, is a story all on it’s own. It’s another antidote to closed-mindedness starting, for us, underground in The Void. It came as no surprise that this Triassic sandstone subterranean space has (unusually for a museum) a living wall of moss with water seeping from above, and a cocktail bar.

We passed on the Poltergeist Bramble and opted instead for the continually evolving private collection (called Monanism) with furniture maker and designer, Patrick Hall, as our guide. Hall's installations of secretly opening cabinets like When My Heart Stops Beating (with drawers that say “I Love you” in adored voices including his young son) and Bounty (made almost entirely from the bleached bones of road kill) are personal reflections about human connections.

 Artist legend Patrick Hall gives insight into the Monanism collection on the Culture Scouts tour

Artist legend Patrick Hall gives insight into the Monanism collection on the Culture Scouts tour

We understood Hall’s inspiration because, by now, we were feeling connected. The thing we had in common (other than the need to keep warm in the cold hours of a Tassie winter) is our love of art. It’s a glorious and empowering thing to share with others. We won’t let it go.

From love to open head surgery - that’s Walsh’s description of the new Pharos wing - with its corridors of colour and James Turrell’s latest stellar installation Unseen, Seen. Turrell’s works epitomise the idea that MONA (and Dark Mofo) is as much about light as it is about dark. There’s so much here that, really, you just have to experience it for yourself.

  Lunch at The Source in MONA

Lunch at The Source in MONA

The Source Restaurant, as always, revived over-stimulated brains (and bodies) with an astonishingly good lunch. We didn’t need more of something good at Moorilla Winery but it was a fitting end to a day at the museum. ‘Walshy’ would have approved.

In our final MONA minutes we gazed in wonderment at James Turrell’s Amarna. This elevated outdoor platform harnessing light and space is described – Walsh again - as being ‘like what God would do if he decided to build a gazebo’. We should all have one of these!

  James Turrell's Amarna elevated as if it were God's gazebo

James Turrell's Amarna elevated as if it were God's gazebo

The ferry for Hobart arrived too soon. There was dinner (very nice thank you, Ettie’s restaurant) and eventually, a bed with luxury linen. But we were not yet done.

Katy Woodroffe’s Sandy Bay artist studio turned out to be our final day sweet treat. It was like sharing an intimate moment with your best friend over a plate of nice brownies by the fire. Katy’s stories of life, travel, history, family and creativity had us as spellbound as her exotic acrylic works on paper.

  Exploring Katy Woodroffe’s artist studio in Sandy Bay

Exploring Katy Woodroffe’s artist studio in Sandy Bay

  A weekend of art, food, conversation and company with Culture Scouts

A weekend of art, food, conversation and company with Culture Scouts

A quick last minute visit to the marvellous Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery gave thoughtful context to Dark Mofo. It helped remind us how we got here (in terms of natural and human history) and where we might go in the future.

Debate still rages about whether Parr’s time in a steel box succeeded in highlighting violence perpetrated against the Indigenous population by white settlers.

Tim Douglas, in The Australian newspaper, described Parr rising from entombment. “There was no bow, nor a wave of acknowledgment. Parr may have staged a vanishing act, but this was no magic show.”

“The applause dissolved into muted awe as Parr, having briefly appeared, again disappeared from view. There was no artist. A shared moment of silence fell across the crowd, and then rose a single voice from the throng. ‘Encore!’”

We, who explored with Culture Scouts, feel the same. We demand a Dark Mofo encore!

 

Anabel Dean is a Sydney journalist and guide with Culture Scouts.

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Artist Jason Wing on weaving culture, heritage and community into public spaces

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Artist Jason Wing on weaving culture, heritage and community into public spaces

 "I wanted to create a environment that resembled another place, another world." Artist Jason Wing in front of his Chinatown mural. Photo: Daniel Boud

"I wanted to create a environment that resembled another place, another world." Artist Jason Wing in front of his Chinatown mural. Photo: Daniel Boud

By Lily Keenan

If you’re wandering through Chinatown in Sydney's centre, you might suddenly find yourself in a particularly unusual laneway. Rolling clouds emblazon the floor and walls, while spirit figures lit up brilliantly in blue hover above. Cast against the backdrop of Chinatown’s industrial underbelly, walking through Kimber Lane feels like a journey to another time, if not another world. It’s a fitting experience for a mural that grapples with exactly this feeling of dissociation, reflecting both the artist’s personal experience and a broader commentary on the collision of cultures that takes place in this iconic precinct.

‘Between Two Worlds’ in Kimber Lane is by Sydney-based artist Jason Wing, a prolific multidisciplinary artist who strongly identifies with, and examines, both his Chinese (Cantonese) and Aboriginal heritage (descendant of the Biripi people). Originally a Sydney street artist, Jason creates challenging works that call into question our understanding of history, identity and socio-political reality. He was commissioned to create ‘Between Two Worlds’ in 2012 by the City of Sydney Council, and it remains one of the most visited and photographed public works in Haymarket. We spoke to Jason about the process of creating this work, the symbolism behind its imagery and his personal connection to Chinatown, the newest addition to our Sydney walking tours. 

Culture Scouts: When you’re in the process of making a public work, how do you engage with that place?

Jason Wing: The first step for me is to always just spend time in the place. I sat in Kimber Lane for about two weeks before I even had an idea, I wanted to see how people flow and move through the streets, how people interact, how much time do they spend there, what kind of person moves through, and just how they move in that space. So my first research was just observing the space. The second step is actually talking to the people, talking to shop owners and asking them how they engage with the space, and asking them what they would like to see. That’s where more of the community consultation happens and there’s no substitute for talking to people on the street. The main brief for the mural was just to divert human traffic off Dixon Street into Kimber lane so I wanted to see how people used it in the first place. Consultation is important from the beginning, that’s key to success for everyone involved.

 "Between Two Worlds" by Jason Wing. Photo: Jodie Barker

"Between Two Worlds" by Jason Wing. Photo: Jodie Barker

CS: What did you find were the needs and values of the Chinatown community and how did you incorporate this into the work you made in Kimber Lane?

JW: The main theme I found that people wanted was more parkland. They wanted more areas in the city where they couldn’t see high rise buildings. And they really wanted a different space where they no longer felt like they were in the city. So that was the key thing: How do I take an urban landscape and transform it into something not so much a physical park, but a visual park? Because we don’t have access to land in Chinatown, I wanted to create a environment that resembled another world, another place. I wanted to create visual indicators that said “you’re not in the city any more”.

CS: The mural depicts cherub-like creatures and blue clouds down the laneway. Is there an element of spirituality that you are representing?

JW: The spirit figures are a cross between some universal spirituality or some intangible force but in a manga style. A bit like Astro Boy crossed with Monkey Magic. Essentially the laneway is a journey between heaven and earth. So those spirits represent heaven and you’re walking on the earth. I wanted to find a kind of universal spirit but also with a slight nod to Aboriginal culture and a slight nod to traditional Chinese culture as well. But also I had to cater for an international market, so I came up with that design to evoke that. I didn’t want to isolate any culture but I did want to specifically reference Aboriginal and Chinese culture whilst being inclusive of other cultures. So that’s where the spirituality part comes into it. The spirit creatures are neuter gender and they have the third eye. So that to me references the next generation, this modern spirit person.

CS: Being both Chinese and Aboriginal, and ‘between two worlds’ yourself in that sense, is there a personal element to this mural?

JW: It’s for the community because I feel that all multicultural people feel that disconnect. They feel a bit of diaspora. I wanted to speak to that because I feel that, and it’s a very common feeling. Whilst it did start from my personal experience, I saw it as a larger conversation. What is Chinese? What is Aboriginal? How do you classify an ever evolving culture? How do you represent that visually? How do you cater for old and young? It was a tricky brief when you think about it.

 Jason's mural transforms into a light installation at night. 

Jason's mural transforms into a light installation at night. 

CS: The lighting element wasn’t in the original plan for the mural, but it’s now a really effective tool for transforming Kimber Lane into a safe and inviting space at night. How did you use light in “Between Two Worlds”?

The lighting component was a creative solution to safety lighting. I found out that there were standard red and yellow lanterns going in and I saw an opportunity to repurpose that budget for the lanterns and offer a design solution instead. I was actually only commissioned to do the pavement as a visual indicator that Kimber Lane is a shared space between cars and pedestrians. I created the spirit figure lanterns as a solution that then opened up the possibility for the mural to take up the entire laneway.

I didn’t want the lighting red or yellow because I needed a point of difference so the mural didn’t get visually drowned out with other red and yellow colours. The elders of the Chinatown community didn’t want blue - red and yellow colours are preferred because they symbolise prosperity. But I convinced them by saying that the colour blue is consistent through all the elements (earth, wind, fire, water) which are very important in traditional Chinese culture. When you multiply clouds quite significantly that also symbolises a never ending form of prosperity, so they really liked that part of the mural. Generally, immortal Gods rode on clouds, if that’s replicated 200 meters long, that’s a very prosperous image despite it not being red and yellow. So the mural didn’t totally conform, but that goes back to the modern Chinese person: We’re a bit different.

CS: How did you develop your passion for art and were there any significant influence(s) that pushed you down this path?

JW: I think I knew as a child that my brain was always geared towards the arts. It was just hard wired that way. I remember my grandma buying me a crayola crayon castle, she could spot that I had talent so she really supported that. Same as my mum who was a primary school teacher and could always see that I liked drawing. In highschool I had a strong connection with my art teacher who was very supportive. Art school just confirmed all of that and then from there it was just obvious that I should be an artist. But actually I left art school and I didn’t make an artwork for 13 years. I worked in bars, did some teaching and then I made my first artwork in 2006. That’s when I knew that I needed to pursue this career because I could see that I could create social change through art.

 The spirit lanterns hover on the edges of the lane, inviting onlookers to walk in.

The spirit lanterns hover on the edges of the lane, inviting onlookers to walk in.

CS: What is your personal connection to Haymarket and Chinatown?

JW: Both my Aboriginal and Chinese families used to meet at the Hingara Chinese Restaurant on Dixon Street in Haymarket for a really long time. I first picked up a pea with chopsticks when I was little and the whole table celebrated because I became a man that day. It’s like an initiation of sorts. My Australian-Scottish grandmother met my Cantonese grandfather at a restaurant in Hay street. My grandfather worked at his uncle's restaurant there and my grandma was employed as an Aussie waitress to double their client base. And she just saw my grandfather and said to her other waitress friend, “I’m going to make that man my husband.” And she did. Mind you, this was during the White Australia Policy and mixed marriage wasn’t really that visually present. And so if it wasn’t for that chance encounter on Hay Street I wouldn’t be here.

And also just being raised in a house that has traditional paper cuts and scrolls and swords. So for me, and I think for a lot of Asian people, they feel very familiar. Chinatowns are all over the world. So when you go there, it’s like your little safe place. And it’s nice that you have that option in lots of countries. So it’s a real honour and a privilege to contribute to that cultural fabric in Chinatown.

CS: What’s your favourite spot in Haymarket and Ultimo?

JW: My favourite dumpling place is actually behind the famous Chinese Noodle House in the same complex. I don’t know what it’s called because it doesn’t seem to clearly have a name. The guy who owns it actually owns five restaurants in the same block, including the Chinese Noodle House that Culture Scouts visit in their tour. He’s the guy who plays violin to people as they eat their dumplings. I actually once tried to give him money because I thought he was busking but he refused and then eventually admitted that he owned the restaurant we were sitting in. He’s the boss man! I’ve wanted to approach them to decorate their place but then I thought… it’s so authentic maybe I’d ruin it. I recommend trying the braised eggplant dish and the cucumber salad. And you can’t go past pan fried pork and chive dumplings.

Another great hidden spot is a strange photo sticker arcade room opposite the 4A gallery. You go up these escalators and there’s all these sticker machines, over fifty of them. And they’re like proper make-up labs with soft lighting and special effects. They’re photoshop booths. It’s really interesting and so much fun to create.

 Chinese Indigenous artist Jason Wing. Photo: Daniel Boud

Chinese Indigenous artist Jason Wing. Photo: Daniel Boud

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Culture Scouts Best Sydney Chocolate Shops this Easter

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Culture Scouts Best Sydney Chocolate Shops this Easter

Why we started eating chocolate easter eggs, plus a list of Culture Scouts favourite Sydney chocolate havens

Loosen your waist belts Sydney! It’s that time of year again. Easter has arrived and with it one of the few times of the year that chocolate-consumption becomes an internationally sanctioned sport. Chocolate eating at Easter is as ingrained in western traditional as gift giving at Christmas. Whether it’s delivered by a mythical bunny or somebody’s mum, there’s no shortage of chocolate in all shapes, sizes and flavours this year.

 Ohhh lordy. Chocolate gelato at Messina to stop your heart this Easter. 

Ohhh lordy. Chocolate gelato at Messina to stop your heart this Easter. 

The symbolic Easter egg is connected to the Christian celebration of resurrection (spoiler alert: that Jesus came back from the dead). But it’s a little known fact that Easter eggs are to some extent an adaption of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg. The earliest Easter eggs were actually hen or duck eggs decorated with charcoal and vegetable dye, which developed into cardboard, plush and satin covered eggs - neither of which sound particularly palatable.

Which leaves little doubt that we are currently living in the heyday of egg-eating tradition.  

 Adora Chocolates come at me this Easter

Adora Chocolates come at me this Easter

As seasoned chocolate eaters, we’ve come up with a list of our favourite chocolate havens that are turning up the goods this Easter. These chocolatiers are unique local businesses we frequent on our explorations of Sydney, or keep a keen eye on in our research, all of whom offer something a little different for the chocolate lovers out there.

Culture Scouts reveal even more delicious Sydney secrets on our bespoke walking tours - book now.

Just William Chocolates - 4 William Street, Paddington, Sydney

Nestled just off the main drag in Paddington, Just William is a boutique chocolate shop crammed full of all the best sourced and in-house handmade chocolates you could hope to get your hands on. It’s been on the map since 1984 when it was opened by chocolatier Suzanne Frances. Now run by her daughter Olivia, Just William has reached legendary status for it’s customised, seasonal packaging.

They consistently source stunning gift boxes, ribbons and ties to reflect the changing design trends in fashion and furnishings. Drop in to say hello to Olivia, and try some of her current favourites including the almond rocher, hazelnut biscotti or the popular salted caramels.

 Just William packaging

Just William packaging

Loco Love Chocolate - Various Stockists, Sydney

If you’re the kind of person who quantifies your chocolate intake by the amount of sprints you’ll have to do to work it off, then Loco Love is your pick this Easter. Handcrafted from superfoods, tonic herbs and healing spices, it is chocolate that not only tastes good, but gives your insides the luxury spa retreat it needs.

All Loco Love chocolates are vegan, gluten, soy & refined sugar and guilt-complex free. We’ve always wanted chocolate to be good for us, and now there is finally a way. To make it even better, they give back to our world too. For every chocolate purchased Loco Love provide one days worth of life saving water to children in Ethiopia. You can find Loco Love at various stockists across Sydney. Try founder Emica’s current favourite, the new Butter Caramel Pecan.

Adora Handmade Chocolates - Shop 2/325 King St - Newtown, Sydney

Adora is a story of two sisters who are passionate about good chocolate and good nutrition. In 1993 they founded Adora, working part time from home to produce chocolates that are preservative and artificial colour free.

They’re well known for packing a bouquet of natural  flavours into their hand rolled truffles, ingredients such as Belgian Callebaut chocolate, cream cultured butter, raspberry, lime, passionfruit, mango, freshly brewed espresso coffee and wattleseed as well as the more traditional pralines, ganache and marzipans.

All flavors are real, and made with passion from their kitchen in Roseberry. You can now find them in Newtown, Sydney CBD and Parramatta. Drop in to try founder Tina’s current favourites, the hazelnut kiss or florentines made with dark chocolate.

Gelato Messina - 241 Victoria Road - Darlinghurst, Sydney

If you haven’t heard of Gelato Messina then you’re not doing Sydney properly. Having won awards internationally for their naturally made and impossibly soft Sicilian gelato, and with lines down the street of their stores on any given night, they are quite literally the superstars of the ice cream world. So it’s not surprising that the chocolate presence in Messina is a force to be reckoned with too.

All chocolate in the gelato flavours is made in-house by the chocolate making team in Roseberry. In fact, every flavour is made from scratch from raw and natural ingredients. Messina are famous for their wacky weekly special flavours, and this Easter they’re not holding back.

Check out their Instagram account for the mind-bending flavours and bizarre Easter Egg interpretations on offer.  

Culture Scouts reveal even more delicious Sydney secrets on our bespoke walking tours - book now.

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Culture Scouts To Do Sydney: Mardi Gras Museum of Love and Protest

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Culture Scouts To Do Sydney: Mardi Gras Museum of Love and Protest

Is there any event bigger for Sydney locals than Mardi Gras? Considering Queen Cher made an appearance, Culture Scouts thinks not.

For Mardi Gras week, the city becomes a hive of art, music, performance and partying, and there is an overwhelming amount of delectable things to do in Sydney.

The Art Gallery of NSW - one of Australia's oldest and biggest galleries - hosted a Queer Art: After Hours that saw young Australian DJs perform alongside Dominatrix Life Drawing, and Culture Scouts Dark Mofo tour favourite Betty ‘Sex Clown’ Grumble.

A favourite bar stop on our Sydney tour, The Bearded Tit, hosted the ‘Black Divaz’ with portraiture, live drag performances and live DJ sets. Culture Scouts tour guide and local artist Craig Bunker AKA Bunkwaa created some fabulous Gay-TMs for Sydney local’s to fabulously withdraw their cash  And of course, there’s the iconic parade down Oxford Street.

But while many Sydneysiders and beyond now fully embrace the LGBTQI pride event, forty years ago it was more like a riotous protest than a parade.

On the evening of June 24th 1978, a crowd of people began marching through Paddington towards Hyde Park. Chants of protest joined the sound of gay liberation anthems emanating from the small sound system on the back of a single flat-bed truck, driven by Lance Gowland. As activists took to the streets to protest the lack of human rights the LGBTQI community, the first ever Mardi Gras was born.

Photographer, Branco Gaica, and his now-wife, Libby, were invited to the march by a friend “who never showed.” He brought along his camera - a Nikon E2 - and a Metz flash and captured one of the most significant moments in Australian modern history.

 Police try to direct protestors, 1978, Credit: Branco Gaica

Police try to direct protestors, 1978, Credit: Branco Gaica

“I thought it might be interesting,” he said, “...and it turned out to be really interesting”.

Although his speciality was (and still is) performing arts photography he accompanied protestors down the street: “having a chat” with activists and joining in with the passionate chants.

“As you can see from the photos, at the march people were smiling and happy,” he says. “In the bars everyone came out. This was Oxford Street - ‘out of the bars and into the street!’ ‘Stop police attacks on women, gays and blacks!’”

It wasn’t until protesters turned away from the designated Hyde Park, and started heading towards College Street that the protest became violent.  

“There were a couple of militant ladies and they started throwing garbage bins,” remembers Branco. “Then the police went berserk. People went berserk”

 Protestors outside Darlinghurst Police Station, Credit: Branco Gaica

Protestors outside Darlinghurst Police Station, Credit: Branco Gaica

His photos taken after this moment show protesters and police outside Darlinghurst Police Station, as people were arrested and released.

It wasn’t until twenty years later, when Branco mentioned the experience to a younger man at a party “and his jaw dropped” when he learnt that Branco had original photos from the night, that the negatives of the original march were developed.

 Branco looks at a booklet which uses his iconic 1978 Mardi Gras images, Credit: Culture Scouts

Branco looks at a booklet which uses his iconic 1978 Mardi Gras images, Credit: Culture Scouts

The iconic photos were recently shown at National Arts School for its Museum of Love and Protest (one of Culture Scouts favourite spots in Darlinghurst) to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Mardi Gras in a “collage … blown up pretty big”.

“The exhibition is on two levels,” explains Branco. “Downstairs there’s lots of photos (including Branco’s). Upstairs are the frocks that people wore. So, it’s really interesting - downstairs is militant, upstairs is celebratory.”

“Just the other day I got a call from a girl who was in one of the photos. She went to the exhibition and saw herself, and ordered a print.”

You can see images from the exhibition here.

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Culture Scouts top picks for Sydney Art Month

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Culture Scouts top picks for Sydney Art Month

Just when you think you have Sydney all figured out, Art Month kicks off to reveal the well loved and often little-known creative underbellies of our city. This four-week festival celebrates new and existing art initiatives scattered across Sydney, offering a diverse program of exhibitions, art galleries, workshops, panel discussions, Sydney tours by locals, precinct nights, parties and more unusual things to do in Sydney.

We’ve teamed up with Art Month again this year with our tailored Sydney walking tours, picking our own path through the best creative spaces in Sydney. But that’s just the start, with the whole art community throwing open their doors, there’s so much to see, hear, explore and collect this month.

You can get your hands dirty with a range of creative workshops or up your conversational game with artist talks, panels and creative exchanges. Have a busy schedule? Get out and about after hours with Art Month’s Art After Dark, where galleries open late for weekly precinct nights.

Overwhelmed? To get you started, Culture Scouts have put together a list of some of the Sydney events and activities we’re particularly excited about.

The Kingdom of God

 Chris Leaver,  Kingdom of God  for Sydney Art Month

Chris Leaver, Kingdom of God for Sydney Art Month

Hosted by our good friends over Art Pharmacy and Vandal, Chris Leaver’s The Kingdom of God explores the relationship between a historical and changing culture via intergalactic imagery, light sculptures and a Chewbacca with human legs. The exhibition opens to celebrate the beginning of Art Month, and is part of  the Redfern precinct of Art After Dark.  

1 March - 25 March, 10am - 5pm
VANDAL Galley, 16-30 Vine Street, Redfern

The Open Body

 The Open Body, Credit: Art Month

The Open Body, Credit: Art Month

Our mysterious bodies, and the relationship we have with the bodies of others, is the focal point of this all-day performance event at Scratch Art Space -  one of our favourite stops on our Marrickville Studio Tour. Works by Kate Brown, Stella Chen, Danica Knezevic, Robbie Carmel and more explore ideas of ideas of body visibility and representation. The performance is curated by Tom Isaacs with the support of an Inner West Art & Culture Grant.

18 March, 11 - 5pm
Scratch Art Space, 67 Sydenham Road, Marrickville

Night Visit to the Elliot Eyes Collection

 Elliot Eyes Collection, Credit: Art Month

Elliot Eyes Collection, Credit: Art Month

Ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of a private art collection? Your wonderings will be answered by the exclusive guided tour of over 300 artworks. Find out the stories behind the works from the collection owners themselves, drink bubbles and nibbles and immerse yourself a world of big names and expensive taste.

7 March, 6:15pm
7 Bridge Street, Erskineville  

Artist Talk with Lara Merrett

 Lara Merrett, Credit: Hugh Stewart

Lara Merrett, Credit: Hugh Stewart

Meet Melbourne Artist Lara Merrett, whose works are vibrant and dreamlike. Her moody style draws on an appreciation for abstraction and the interchangeability of control and chaos in the painting process. In this talk, Merrett discusses High-Rise, her upcoming solo show at COMO Gallery, as well as the important creative influences and past events in her career that have informed her work. The conversation will be moderated by Alexie Glass-Kantor from Artspace, Sydney.

17 March, 11:30am

137 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay

Sculpture in a Day: Soapstone Carving with Karen Alexander

 Sculpture in a Day, Credit: Art Month

Sculpture in a Day, Credit: Art Month

Are you handy with a knife? This workshop is for you. Soapstone is a soft easily carved stone with beautiful patterns and a variety of colours. Meet artist Karen Alexander who will show you how to use rasps and files to reveal the hidden organic shapes and forms within this malleable stone. Your next masterpiece (or paperweight) is just one sandstone away!

25 March, 9:30am - 4:30am

2018 Tom Bass Prize Exhibition
Juniper Hall, 250 Oxford St, Paddington

For those who say there isn’t things to do in Sydney - eat your words! Art Month officially starts today, so get hold of a program and get exploring!

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Culture Scouts Explores Sydney Galleries: Newsagency

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Culture Scouts Explores Sydney Galleries: Newsagency

Newsagency Gallery is part of Inner West Open Studio Tour 2018 (IWOST)

All Culture Scouts are suckers for fun gallery finds - and our Inner West team are no different when scouting for our walking tours. When we enter today, the walls of Newsagency Gallery are laden with bright punk pop-art. You could be forgiven for thinking they were from the seventies, except for their relatively new condition.

But these colour soaked prints are in fact reflective of the ever changing politics of Australia’s closest neighbours - south-east Asia and China.

“Cambodia is having a cultural renaissance,” explains Bess, as she points to a bright red and blue Cambodian print, by artist Sticky Fingers. “They were in a real stasis in terms of their art - after Pol Pot. It's having a renaissance now.”

“It’s humorous, some of its naughty; it’s beautiful and intelligent.”

  Credit:  Sticky Fingers  for Krack! Studios

Credit: Sticky Fingers for Krack! Studios

Bess O’Malley is the founder and director of the Petersham based gallery, with Jose Herrera acting as assistant curator. She shows Culture Scouts a work by Indonesian artist Bayo Widodo - a green hand reaching up, covered in vines and houses.

Wadodo, a celebrated artist originally from Sumatra, based in Yogyakarta and represented by Louis Vuitton, is one of her favourites that regularly appears in her collection.

Works from Newsagency Gallery, Hendra Harsona, Bayu Widodo, Restu Ratnaningtyas

“Indonesian artists works are anarchist, raw, politicised,” says Bess, pulling more of Widodo’s works from the drawers, filled with prints (which, like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, are seemingly bottomless. “They’re interested in the individual in Yogyakarta - it has a rigorous contemporary arts scene.”

Bess explains to Culture Scouts that this group has grown out of reformasi artists - part of the group that matured as artists during social upheaval at end of the Suharto military dictatorship in the 90’s - and are very heavily into social justice.

“Widodo runs a studio called SURVIVE!Garage which is full of  young anarchist kids in Indonesia who are really progressive,” says Bess.

“They had made artworks to protest the Suharto regime and now they look at  environmental protection in Indonesia, and workers rights and women's rights.”

When asked about the difference between how Australian and South-East Asian artists operate, Bess has a multifaceted answer - first of which is that the cheap cost of living is beneficial to artists growth - “they develop so quickly there!”

“Australia's a little bit lost in privilege.”

She also says that it is important for Australia to see itself in terms of its geographic location: “We’re so eurocentric and we’re not even in Europe - we’re in the middle of the Asia Pacific!”

“South-East Asia is in the most fascinating place politically, and has most interesting contemporary art world. Last decade it was China, now it’s there.”

  Sophia de Mestre on Culture Scouts walking tour with Bess O'Malley

Sophia de Mestre on Culture Scouts walking tour with Bess O'Malley

As well as representing and selling works of artists, Newsagency is also heavily involved in Sydney cultural life.

They’ve been involved in Mardi Gras (organising artists Benoit and Bo’s ‘Sydney Love Map’ for their 2015 party).

They also hosts events and parties - perhaps the most exciting of which, is a planned light show soiree that will be celebrating Vivid 2018. Culture Scouts will be there will bells on.

Newsagency Gallery is part of Inner West Open Studio Tour 2018 (IWOST), one of the Sydney local tours run by Culture Scouts

 Bo + Benoit 'Sydney Love Map' Credit: Newsagency Gallery

Bo + Benoit 'Sydney Love Map' Credit: Newsagency Gallery

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Culture Scouts LOVES ARIs

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Culture Scouts LOVES ARIs

Wander down any neighbourhood classed as an ‘artistic haunt’ and you might be forgiven for wondering where the artists are. Well, artists are in fact locked up in their artist studios 24/7 (we’re joking of course - they can come out on birthdays) creating beautiful things!

Here we lay out a spread of artist run initiatives (or ARI’s for short) that are currently doing *amazing* creative things in Sydney. Keep an eye on them, and any events they are doing.

GAFFA Gallery - Sydney CBD

Starting in the CBD, if you’re a fan of the ARI, you may already have heard of Gaffa Gallery. Situated next to Town Hall, GAFFA prides itself on providing a space to emerging (and affordable) artists and their artworks. Past residents have included Art Pharmacy’s Freya Powell, Mark Rowden and Julia Kennedy-Bell, as well as many, many others. They also run  jewellery making workshops. Fans of Sydney architecture may also be interested to learn that Gaffa is in a heritage listed building, with over three floors to explore.

The Nest - Alexandria

A relatively new spot, The Nest is not only a creative space for artists, but hosts a whole range of events; from warehouse parties, to pop up exhibitions. Known for their vibrant lifestyle (think loud, great music and vintage furniture) and experimental approach to art. Plus they have a cat called Moto (what other excuse do you need?0. Don’t hold back on the visit if you hear of an event! The Nest will be moving to a new location in April 2018.

107 Projects - Redfern

107 Projects has been a powerhouse spot for up and coming artists for almost two decades. Moving from art spot icon, Hibernian House (a famed creative, graffiti soaked haunt that's been rocking on since the twenties) in Surry Hills in 2011, their new premises are next to Redfern Station (and near our fave foodie spots, drinking hole Bart Jnr and restaurant Redfern Continental), an frequently play host to performance, parties, exhibition launches and art sales. “Stepping into 107 is a bit like stepping inside the creative mind,” 107 explains. “Experiments happen and s*** gets weird – but ultimately great work emerges from a rich, creative culture.” Clearly, they’re not boring.

Credit: @107projectsinc

 

Monster Mouse - Marrickville

Hop on the Inner West train line to get to Marrickville - the up and coming creative neighbourhood that is often referred to amongst Sydneysiders as ‘the new Newtown’. Monster Mouse Studios is just one of the artists spaces that have popped up. This warehouse-style space hosts numerous artists, as well as exhibitions, workshops and even the occasional gig.

 Monster Mouse Studio, Credit: Culture Scouts

Monster Mouse Studio, Credit: Culture Scouts

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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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