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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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