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Eight Exciting and Powerful Sydney Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

From adorable and award-winning nature photography to an immersive Van Gogh world, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.
By Concrete Playground
September 14, 2020

Eight Exciting and Powerful Sydney Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

From adorable and award-winning nature photography to an immersive Van Gogh world, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.
By Concrete Playground
September 14, 2020


From adorable and award-winning nature photography to an immersive Van Gogh world, here's where you can get your art fix around the city.

With the sun shining and everything looking just a little bit more beautiful, spring is the perfect time to head out for a day of gallery hopping around Sydney's many galleries. There are plenty of exhibitions currently showing — or set to open in the next couple of months — covering everything from award-winning photography to an immersive Van Gogh exhibition. Here are eight of the best.

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    Patricia Piccinini: The Gardener's Eye

    Paddington’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery has nabbed a solo exhibition by one of Australia’s most lauded contemporary artists — and you can see it in person right now. Running until Saturday, September 19, Patricia Piccinini’s The Gardener’s Eye showcases new works that ask the viewer to reimagine their relationship with nature. At the centre of the installation is a hyper-realistic, life-sized sculpture entitled Sapling (2020). It depicts artist Dennis Daniel with a ‘fleshy plant creature’ over his shoulder, which represents the relationship between humans, animals and plants. Sitting in the gallery space alongside the artwork are a series of smaller creature-like sculptures titled Shoeforms (2019), which explore the ‘naturalisation of technology’. Finally, the walls are adorned with a collection of drawings that explore the artist’s fascination with birds and human hair.

    If you can’t make it to the gallery in person, a virtual viewing is also available through the website.

    Image: Installation view, Patricia Piccinini: The Gardener’s Eye, Rosyln Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. Photo by Luis Power. 

  • 7

    With the world swept up in a global pandemic, the concept of ‘home’ and that connection to one’s roots feels as prevalent as ever right now. And it’s these ideas that are at the forefront of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre’s new exhibition Bittersweet. Put together by Western Sydney artist Shivanjani Lal and running until Sunday, September 27, this one features works from ten iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) and Indo Fijian artists, as they explore their own connections to home. Artist Dulcie Stewart pays homage to the distinctive visual stylings of Fiji’s market stalls and shops with a work crafted from contemporary Fijian street signage, Quishile Charan has rallied women in her family to help source natural materials for a series celebrating traditional Pacific craft techniques, and a three-part video work by Mohini Chandra reflects on what it’s like to return to your homeland after everyone else has left.

    Images: Bittersweet exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and ‘Chhaapaa’ (2020) by Shivanjani Lal.

  • 6
    And Now

    To celebrate its tenth anniversary last year, Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery launched a huge two-part retrospective. The first half, dubbed Thenfeatured giant pink fibreglass undies, a porcine car with an 11-metre gold tongue and 30 life-sized naked figures. Now, the follow-up exhibition has opened. Called, fittingly, And Now, it showcases 15 key works from the second part of White Rabbit’s life: 2011–2019. The three-storey gallery is filled with videos, giant sculptures, paintings and performative pieces. Zhu Jinshi’s The Ship of Times — made from 14,000 sheets of xuan paper, 1800 pieces of fine bamboo, and 2000 cotton threads — symbolises spiritual transformation. You’ll also find a tall pillar of red glass by ceramicist Liu Jianhua, a performative video piece by Patty Chang in which she washes a rotting whale carcass, and two works by provocative artist, and former Ai Wei Wei studio assistant, Zhao Zhao.

    Image: Kimberley Low

  • 5
    Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop

    A retrospective exhibition on multidisciplinary artist Lindy Lee is taking over leading contemporary gallery MCA Australia. Titled Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop, it is the most comprehensive exhibition by the artist to date — and it’s opening on Friday, October 2. The celebrated Australian Chinese artist has a practice spanning over four decades and works in everything from painting to sculpture. Her Chinese ancestry underpins much of her art; Lee’s works are inspired by Daoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism philosophies and she often examines the connection between humanity and nature. From flinging molten bronze and burning paper to allowing ink to spill and rain to transform surfaces, Lee’s process is varied, experimental and inquisitive. Expect more than 70 works, including huge installations, vibrant wax paintings and metallic structures — and rarely seen works from the artist’s personal collection.

    Top images: Lindy Lee, ‘No Up, No Down, I Am the Ten Thousand Things’ (1995/2020), courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.
  • 4
    Van Gogh Alive

    One of the world’s most visited multi-sensory experiences will come alive in Sydney this spring. From Friday, September 18, Van Gogh Alive will see more than 3000 large-scale images of the Dutch master’s works projected onto walls, columns and floors at The Royal Hall of Industries in Moore Park. The project is the brainchild of Melbourne-based Grande Exhibitions, which, for the past 15 years, has hosted immersive exhibitions and gallery experiences in over 140 cities across the world. The company also owns and operates Rome’s Museo Leonardo da Vinci. The family-friendly experience will create the sensation of walking right into Van Gogh’s paintings. Famous works including The Starry Night and Sunflowers are presented in fine detail using Grande Exhibitions’ state-of-the-art technology combining 40 high-definition projectors, while a classical musical score accompanies the vibrant colours in cinema-quality surround sound.

  • 3

    In 2018, The Royal Botanic Garden launched an exhibition of 25,000 creepy carnivorous plants. Now, it’s trading blood-thirsty flora for thousands of colourful blooms in its latest display inside The Calyx. Dubbed InBloom, the bright and beautiful exhibition features more than 20,000 flowers flashing hues across the spectrum and one of the largest vertical floral walls in the Southern Hemisphere. The flowers are arranged into a living impressionistic watercolour painting stretching over 50 metres in length and over five metres tall. InBloom wis open from 10am–4pm every day until winter hits next year (the only exceptions being Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve). It’s worth visiting several times — the living exhibition only continues to grow and change over time — and only costs a few dollars, with the garden just asking for a donation on entry.

  • 2
    Giselle Stanborough: Cinopticon

    As part of Carriageworks’ grand reopening, a major new exhibition by Australian artist Giselle Stanborough was unveiled to the public on Friday, August 7. In Cinopticon, the artist explores the performative effects of social media platforms by using searchlights, sculptures, large-scale wall diagrams and mirrored surfaces. The exhibition examines French philosopher Michel Foucault’s thoughts on the theory of ‘panopticon’, in which  the few watch and control the many. Similarly, Cinopticon considers how social media has created a society in which we’re constantly observing and being observed. Within the immersive installation, Stanborough has created a “prism of self-reflection”, whereby audiences will see their reflection in unpredictable ways. Internet narcissism, corporate surveillance and the manipulation of social media algorithms are just a few of the themes that the artist explores.

    Images: Giselle Stanborough, Cinopticon, 2020, Carriageworks. Photo by Mark Pokorny.

  • 1
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020

    The wonders of the animal kingdom have arrived at the Australian National Maritime Museum courtesy of a huge exhibition of nature photography. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year showcase comes direct from London’s Natural History Museum — which has developed and produced the prestigious competition since 1965. Highlighting the astonishing sights that the natural world has to offer, this year’s contest attracted 48,000 entries from 100 countries. That not only shows how much we all love creatures great, small, cute, majestic and everything in-between, but how much we love both taking and looking at snaps of them as well. From that huge number, 100 winning pics were chosen for their creativity, originality and technical excellence, and then tour internationally. You can see the eye-popping, awe- (and ‘awwwww’) inducing results during its Sydney stop from June 22 till February 28, 2021.

    Top images: Jason Bantle and Daniel Kronauer, courtesy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Natural History Museum, London.


Top image: Van Gogh Alive

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