Tag Archives: sydney

Liminal visual delight in the city

Birds of Australia. Artwork by Egg Picnic.

Sometimes living in a big, vibrant, noisy and expanding city like Sydney has some surprising moments. Like when you come across one of the City of Sydney-commissioned artworks on an enormous building site. The city is full-to-bursting with cranes and construction of all kinds at the moment as the land and sky scape eternally changes around us.

I call these moments of seeing things like this ‘acts of liminal visual delight’. They’re fleeting and precarious. They exist in snippets of in-between time. On a threshold of before and after. And they’re a little bit ephemeral too. Once the building is complete and the scaffolding dismantled, the artworks will be gone. And ‘visual delight’, because works like this one (see photo above and below), Birds of Australia by Egg Picnic, are a splash of lively colour on what would otherwise be a bland old black or white external hoarding outside this Bay St, Glebe residential building site. Pleasure, joy, thrill, delight.

This sense of precariousness is communicated in another way too. Egg Picnic’s work was created to remind us of the vulnerable nature of Australia’s wildlife. Birdwatchers and designers, Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso (aka Egg Picnic), want us to look at the artwork. To notice it. To take a moment out of our busy day to marvel at the kooky bird life that inhabits our big brown land. Australia, home to the quirky kookaburra with their chortling evening laughter. The squawking cockatoo. The swooping magpie.

Birds of Australia

Having colourful art hoardings like these on building sites all over Sydney does something a little bit magical. It alters the zeitgeist of the city. It uplifts and reshapes it. It includes creativity into the everyday, the unexpected, and even the usually ugly.

Acts like this add colour and movement, and create moments of contemplation. They allow for the development of another dimension to city living. More than just commerce, cities are for people are for the natural environment in which the city sits and is surrounded. We need uplifting junctures like this to remind us of our connectivity with others and our natural world.

There are 10 new works like this being commissioned for building sites all of Sydney. What’s really heartening is that the City of Sydney received more than 520 submissions of artwork to be part of their plan to inject more art into the city. I’m going to look out for the 10 that made it through. I suspect it will be a bit like bird watching.


Startups, urban psychology, and creative cities

Pictured: the Pinterest office in San Francisco via Stuck in Customs.

Last week an important announcement was made in Sydney that will give a boost to coworking spaces and the freelancers and startups who mostly use them. The NSW Government announced it will make a significant financial contribution to a new startup hub in an 11-storey building above Wynyard Station on York St. Fishburners (I’ve always loved that name), Australia’s largest coworking space and home to hundreds of ‘high impact scalable startups’, will be an important anchor tenant of the new space at Wynyard Station. Others in the mix include Tankstream Labs, The Studio, and Stone & Chalk in what will be space for 2500 creative entrepreneurs.

It all sounds great. And I’m happy for Fishburners who have expanded rapidly since their 30-desk-one-floor-beginning in 2011. For some time now they’ve needed more space than their current (and beautiful) Harris Street space in Ultimo can provide. But if this is going to work for all involved, then some careful attention to how this new spaces is set up will need to happen. More than ‘just’ cash, this about-to-be startup hub will require some clever design thinking about soft infrastructure. If not, the creatives it seeks to attract will not come. Continue reading


Art manifesto

Lebbeus Woods, Manifesto

Manifesto by Lebbeus Woods (image via noever design)

The artist manifesto. A document of ideology. It reveals intent. It aims to motivate and promote change. Historically manifestos have been crafted to publicly declare the philosophy, aims and ambitions of an artistic movement, and really came into their own in the 20th century. Think Realists, Symbolists, Futurists, Cubists, Dadaists, Surrealists…

Writer and cultural theorist, Lee Scrivner even wrote a manifesto on how to write an avant-garde manifesto in 2006 and then taped to the front door the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, later presenting it in a British Library exhibition in 2008. Continue reading


Designing the city – how a bowling club became a sustainability focused food destination


Sometimes living in the city can be hard going. It’s noisy, there’s too much light at night, and the traffic can be beyond crazy making. And then, something amazing happens in the midst of all this that changes things. In a good way. Imagine if you will, the idea of a giant vegetable garden and a beautiful restaurant serving its produce landing like a space ship in the middle of a dense, urban and somewhat gritty setting. A mix of residential apartments and light industry. And only a short distance from one of the noisiest, busiest, and dare-I-say ugliest main roads in Sydney.

I’ve just described the wonderful new development that is Camperdown Commons. Continue reading


The minimalist guide to art in Sydney

Yang Xin Original

‘Original’ (detail) by Yang Xin, 2015. As seen at White Rabbit Gallery.

Visiting a big city like Sydney or even living here can be overwhelming at times. Too much to see. Too much to do. Where do you start? And how do you begin to see all the art?

Unless you live in Sydney and don’t work much you won’t be able to see all the art. That’s my view anyway. There’s simply too much going on. It’s the same in any big city but I’m devoting this post to Sydney. So I’ve created a minimalist guide to art to get you through your visit. In case there’s any confusion this is not a guide to minimalist art, but a minimalist guide to experiencing art in Sydney. A way of making sense of all the options that will prevent you from feeling swamped with art choices. Continue reading


Why more Frida? And why now?

FridaThe enduring popularity of artist, Frida Kahlo, never ceases to amaze me. It seems we’re in the midst of a new wave of public fascination for her work and story. There’s yet another exhibition of her work (and Diego Rivera’s) at the Art Gallery of NSW showing right now in Sydney. Perhaps this resurgence is about a new generation discovering the legend that is Frida. Or something else at play. Continue reading