The Playmaker
Let's play
  • It's Monday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?

Sydney's Best Art Exhibitions and Events You Can Visit IRL This June

You can now head to Cockatoo Island for immersive art installations, catch White Rabbit Gallery's blockbuster exhibition and ogle the world's best wildlife photography.
By Cordelia Williamson
June 02, 2020
By Cordelia Williamson
June 02, 2020


You can now head to Cockatoo Island for immersive art installations, catch White Rabbit Gallery's blockbuster exhibition and ogle the world's best wildlife photography.

After a tumultuous start to the year, Australia's arts and cultural industries are finally — albeit slowly — starting to come back. Over the past few months, the Australian Government's ban on non-essential gatheringssocial distancing rules and the mass closure of indoor venues saw many major art events and exhibitions around the country cancelled or postponed. Now, life is looking a little more normal for Sydneysiders. As well as being able to head on a regional holiday and hit up our favourite restaurant, pub, bar or cafe, we're allowed to visit many of the city's cultural institutions in real life. Yep, you no longer have to get your cultural fix from the couch.

As of this June, you can catch citywide arts festival the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, head to a free exhibition at Casula Powerhouse, ogle the best wildlife photographs of the past year and check out a blockbuster exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, just to name a few. Similarly to restaurants and cafes, cultural institutions need to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and will be allowed one visitor per four square metres. So, capacity is limited and booking ahead — even for free exhibitions — is recommended. Here are our top picks for the month, so you can get planning.

  • 4

    This year’s Biennale examines a poignant issue close to the heart of Australia: First Nations sovereignty and intergenerational trauma. After closing just ten days after opening back in March, the citywide arts festival is back. Entitled Nirin, which means ‘edge’ in the language of western NSW’s Wiradjuri people. Helmed by a new First Nations artistic director, famed Sydney-born, Melbourne-based interdisciplinary artist Brook Andrew has selected an impressive lineup of artists and creatives — many of them First Nations — from around the world to exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW, Woolloomooloo’s Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island and the MCA.

    On the program, you’ll find the Southern Hemisphere premiere of Arthur Jafa’s Golden Lion-awarded work The White Album, Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’s immersive work symbolising the disproportionate number of incarcerated Indigenous Australian women and a large-scale political protest piece by Pitjantjatjara artist Kunmanara Mumu Mike Williams (who passed away last year). Cockatoo Island is home to a wide range of works, including Ghanaian-born artist Ibrahim Mahama’s sprawling installation of coal sacks; Tony Albert’s interactive greenhouse, where you’ll be invited to write and plant messages; and Tlingit/Unangax̂ artist Nicholas Galanin’s excavation work that’ll ‘dig up’ the land beneath the shadow of Hyde Park’s Captain Cook statue. At the MCA, you’ll find Ahmed Umar’s ceramic sarcophagus.

    Image: Barbara McGrady, installation view at Cambelltown Arts Centre, photographed by Zan Wimberley

    READ MORE Add to Playlist
    Want to start building your ultimate Sydney Playlist?

    Start creating a personalised itinerary to your city here — or add to an existing list. Save it, share it and take it with you on your next local adventure.

  • 3

    The wonders of the animal kingdom have landed at the Australian National Maritime Museum courtesy of a huge exhibition of nature photography. After closing temporarily, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year is reopening on Monday, June 22 and 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.

    Image: Yongqing Bao, Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

    READ MORE BUY TICKETS Add to Playlist
  • 2

    To celebrate its tenth anniversary last year, Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery launched a huge two-part retrospective. The first half, dubbed Then, featured giant pink fibreglass undies, a porcine car with an 11-metre gold tongue and 30 life-sized naked figures. Now, the follow-up exhibition is taking place, fittingly called And Now. Showcasing 15 key works from the second part of White Rabbit’s life: 2011–2019, the show takes over the three-storey gallery with videos, giant sculptures, paintings and performative pieces.

    A three-part video installation by Liu Chuang will see Stephen Spielberg, Zhou Dynasty bells and bitcoin come together (figuratively) to explore issues of displacement in Bitcoin Mining and Field Recordings of Ethnic Minorities, while Zhu Jinshi’s The Ship of Time — made from 14,000 sheets of xuan paper, 1800 pieces of fine bamboo, and 2000 cotton threads — will symbolise 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

    READ MORE Add to Playlist
  • 1

    This surrealist exhibition opened on March 21, just days before the Australian Government announced the mass closure of indoor venues. After a brief hibernation, the works by artists Jomakhan Jafari and Danny Kennedy are back on display — and you can ogle them for free. A series of dream ‘interpretations’, A Familiar Place I’ve Never Seen combines Jafari’s calligraphy art and Kennedy’s photography to explore themes of the fantastical and the mundane, cultural heritage, memory and environment. Each work represents one person’s dreamscape, with the artists interviewing western Sydney locals about their dreams. An excerpt from each interview accompanies the work, too, such as “I dreamt one night I was an educated man”, “I was flying on an umbrella” and “When I was in the detention centre, I dreamt suddenly I was in Golshahr”.

    Image: ‘Golshahr’ by Jomakhan Jafari and Danny Kennedy

    READ MORE Add to Playlist

Top Image: And Now, White Rabbit Gallery by Kimberley Low

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter Pixel