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How to Find a Week’s Worth of Night Art in Sydney

In our city there are enough institutions, exhibitions and installations to fill a week's worth of evening art excursions.
By Zacha Rosen
April 16, 2012

How to Find a Week’s Worth of Night Art in Sydney

In our city there are enough institutions, exhibitions and installations to fill a week's worth of evening art excursions.
By Zacha Rosen
April 16, 2012

Sydney has a surprisingly vibrant scene for art after dark. Even now, away from precint-linking festival evenings like Art Months' Art at Night and with Jurassic Lounge finished its summer season, a whole world of late night art remains to keep you warm with culture through the increasingly chilly autumn nights to come.

In our city there are enough institutions, exhibitions and installations to fill a week's worth of evening art excursions. And while a week's worth of art after work takes a chunk of stamina, you'll soon find that (drinks aside) most of these excursions are free to boot. Check out Concrete Playground's guide to the best night art this city has to offer.

Art After Hours

You can get into Art Gallery of NSW electronically at all hours now. But the Gallery still owns Wednesday night in real life with programs big enough to occupy a whole evening on their own. A Sydney late-night pioneer, Art After Hours brings you a line-up of speakers, tours, film and exhibitions every Wednesday. Its current Archibald Prize-linked program of celebrity talks includes appearances from globe trotting correspondent Scott Bevan and, with films in its Postcards from LA series from David Lynch, Gus Van Sant and Steven Soderbergh, you could be forgiven for easily forgetting the art itself at the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman and the permanent exhibitions.

Wednesday nights, the Art Gallery of NSW stays open until 9pm. Free, some special exhibitions charge for admission.

Thursday Lates

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia's powerful new entry in the evening art calendar is an ongoing night art experience called Thursday Lates. As well as leaving the Clock (and the much-needed level four cafe) running 24 hours, Thursdays have the regular exhibitions open late into the evening, plus talks from curators, performance artists and thinkers add some ideas that aren't on the canvas. And on the first Thursday of the month, the Soap Box series invites you shout out your own ideas to the art public at large.

The MCA stays open until 9pm Thursday nights, the Clock screening and cafe will be open all night until June 3. Free.

Alaska Projects

Artist-run initiative Alaska Projects brings good art to unused places, and its still freshly-minted gallery in a disused Kings Cross carpark gives you the chance to get underground in many senses of the word. While on weekends Alaska Project opens up at a party-friendly late afternoon hour, Thursday and Friday nights the space opens regularly from six. With previous occupants like Siouxzi Mernagh and Samuel Hodge, who knows what the coming cooler months will bring to this bastion of art under the asphalt.

Alaska Projects is open 6-8pm on Thursday and Friday nights, 1-6pm on weekends. Free.

The Tate

Newly established, and ambitiously sharing its name with an older British art institution, the Tate brings art know-how from the Lo-Fi Collective across from Taylor Square to the Toxteth Hotel (next to Glebe Library). The Tate has its grand openings on Wednesday nights, but a unique byproduct of its pub-based locale is that its shows are open late on the weekend as well. Previous exhibitions have encompassed tattooed art and dancehall culture. And while there are no free drinks over the weekend, the prospect of a beer-in-hand with the art upstairs is none too unpleasant a prospect to explore.

The Tate is open 6-9pm on Wednesday nights, 3-9pm Thursdays to Sunday. Free.

Art Openings & Parties

While it's no secret that Wednesday is the big night for Sydney's smaller galleries to run their exhibition openings, a few other evenings are vying for your attention as well. The promise of a little free booze and (hopefully) good art is laid out by galleries with the ambition of exchanging them for punters' attention at the show and (hopefully) a purchase as well. There's a rotating cast of galleries, ARIs and occasional pop-ups to turn your art-loving eye over.

Here at Concrete Playground we cover a big chunk of these appealing-looking up and coming shows, but for the mother lode of an evening's worth of Sydney art opening information, you can consult the opening oracle that is Sydney Art Galleries and Art Community, or more formal country-wide art almanacs like Art Guide and Art What's On.

Exhibition openings tend to run from 6-8pm and cluster around Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Chippendale, the CBD and Marrickville. Wednesday night is the big night. Check our previews, or one of the almanacs above, for details of specific nights. Usually free.

Leading image from Art Month Sydney. Art After Hours image by AGNSW. Image for Openings is of Vivid Creative Sydney Opening 2010. Vivid Light Sculptures will also be open late for art viewing during June.

Published on April 16, 2012 by Zacha Rosen

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