On Tour With Surry Hills Creative Precinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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