Wednesday, October 26, 2011

52 Suburbs and the Museum of Sydney

When I returned from my travels around the world, I had at the back of my mind that I would write a blog about Sydney.  Perhaps, visit one special place each weekend, and share with the world all the hidden gems that only locals know about.  I many tourists have even heard of Berowra Waters, Dangar Island or our famous Pie in the Sky cafe?  How many people have made the trip up to the historic pub at Wiseman’s Ferry and sat outside to cook their own steak while enjoying the live music?  In fact, how many locals are out there who have never ventured further than a safe radius from the suburb they have called home for most of their life?  Most visitors to Sydney are taken to the usual icons – Bondi Beach, Circular Quay and the Three Sisters but there is so much more to this fabulous city. 

While thinking about how I might go about this project, I got caught up in life.  The 9 to 5 or rather 6 to 7 routine of waking up, driving to work and getting back home in time to cook dinner takes up much of the week.  In between I managed to throw a welcome home party, organise an exhibition, design a catalogue, have knee surgery, renovate my house, present my travels at a few forums, help move my partner to my place then help pack & clean up his house so it could go on the market, in fact we packed & unpacked a few times over, and the list goes on.  So, imagine my surprise to discover that while I had been travelling the world a lady by the name of Louise Hawson had decided to do something similar in Sydney.  She states that while she has lived in Sydney for over 30 years she had never set foot in most of its 600+ suburbs. So from September 2009 to October 2010, she explored and photographed one new Sydney suburb a week in search of the beauty in the 'burb!  She blogged about her experiences, 52 Suburbs, wrote a book and then launched an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney which we visited. 

Having just completed my own exhibition and kept a blog for a year, I had a great appreciation for the effort and discipline it must have taken her to put this project together.  As we viewed the photographs, many of them displayed as a double collage of complementary photos from the one place I was transported back to some of my favourite suburbs through the eyes of Louise.  However, I overheard comments from others that perhaps she had not captured their version of a particular place.  Art is never without its critics and will never please everyone but I thought the concept was clever and she had captured moments from each of these places that she thought was special and created punctum for others.  Ultimately, I think what is most important i that your art is an honest portrayal of a place through your own filter…and then you hope your audience will feel that connection as well! 

The exhibition has now ended but the Sydney Museum is still worth a visit.  As the website claims it was designed by one of Sydney’s best-known architects, Richard Johnson of Denton Corker Marshall, and it sits on one of Australia's most important sites. It was here that Australia’s first Government House was built in 1788 as a home and office for the colony’s Governor, Arthur Phillip. The museum forecourt, known as First Government House Place, preserves the remaining foundations of the house, while aboveground the art installation Edge of the Trees marks the site of first contact between the British colonisers and the Gadigal people.  It was a great day out and one I would recommend. 

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