Meet Sogna Ocello from Formaggi Ocello


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.


Culture Scouts Delves into Dark Mofo


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.


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


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


Culture Scouts Best Sydney Chocolate Shops this Easter


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.


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


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.


Culture Scouts top picks for Sydney Art Month


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!


Culture Scouts Explores Sydney Galleries: Newsagency


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


Culture Scouts LOVES ARIs


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


The Big Anxiety


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


Art That Highlights: #WeLiveHere2017


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


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.


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.



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:
Open until 14 August 2017
107 Projects
107 Redfern St, Redfern NSW 2016



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.



Practical Tips From Street Artists: Akisiew / Kim Siew

Part 1 of our practical street artist guide


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 (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!



Street Art: Fresh On The Walls For Perfect Match

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Local nudes: Life Drawing At The Hive Bar

By Louisa Tiley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Culture Scouts Tour Guide Spotlight - Artist Craig Bunker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book a street art tour of Newtown here


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Credit: The Guardian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read our interview with Justin here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting out: the nature of Mount Wellington

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


Walking Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

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Walking Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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