In my second week, I explored Scent of Sydney by artist Cat Jones, and Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt.
I’ve heard that our sense of smell is the one most closely aligned with memory, and I think that’s true: when I’m in Chippendale, or walking along Broadway, the old CUB Brewery aroma wafts out of the past like a ghost. The heavy, yeasty brewing mist that used to hang over the suburb until the early 2000s is still there, lurking down a drain or resting in the branches of a tree, waiting for the right breeze to set it free.
In my third week, I visited Vernon Ah Kee's Not An Animal Or A Plant, and Walan Yinaagirbang (‘Strong Women’ in Wiradjuri) at Firstdraft, an exhibition of work by eight female Indigenous artists brought together by curator Emily McDaniel.
Penny Evans’ works are captivating: shells and stamps, fibres, cheap plastic twine, surrounding ceramics enhanced with the sharp, poisonous quills of an echidna. Paola Balla’s Mok Mokphotography series is celebratory and menacing at once, seeking protection in suburbia by calling out the spirits that linger. This exhibition is a celebration of defiance and a powerful creative resistance: of artists adapting old skills to tell new stories, recording loss and resurgence.
In my final week blogging for Time Out, I went to some of my favourite art bars (I know, I know, it was a tough gig) and considered the connection between nightlife and a city's creative energy:
In these ‘cultural capitals’, after dark watering holes and party playgrounds are not optional extras, they’re at the foundation – places where artists and creative thinkers work, meet, test out ideas and invent the new. If we want Sydney to be a place that generates new thinking, we need to champion places where people can let go, meet each other, and experiment (creatively) in public.
Image: EXIT by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro at UNSW Galleries as part of #SydFest, open till March 26. Photograph: Prudence Upton