“Venture off the beaten track and into the suburbs and small galleries and artist-run initiatives abound.” Explore Sydney’s suburbs Darlinghurst, Paddington, Surry Hills, Eveleigh and Chippendale.
Historically a hotbed of criminal activity, Darlinghurst is now an affluent area that is home to an astonishing number of galleries, bars and restaurants, as well as the Darlinghurst Theatre Company that has taken up residence in the newly renovated and refurbished Eternity Playhouse, formerly the iconic Burton Street Tabernacle. After humble beginnings as a drama and performance school for amateurs, the company now works with emerging and established Australian artists and local talent to deliver a program of diverse and innovative theatre productions.
There are many things secreted away in the streets of Darlinghurst, gems like Chalk Horse Gallery and bars like Shady Pines, made all the more enticing by being difficult to find. Some things are more obvious, like the imposing collection of sandstone buildings in the center of Darlinghurst. Once home to Darlinghurst Gaol, the convict-marked stone walls now house the National Art School, a hub of creativity where notable alumni include Australian artists Max Dupain, Jeffrey Smart and Fiona Hall, who will represent Australia at the 2015 Venice Biennale. The onsite gallery features Australian and international artists and a not-to-be-missed end of year exhibition showcasing the work of graduating students.
As with many of the inner city suburbs of Sydney, Paddington was once a slum area. Now, walking through Paddington’s winding, tree-lined streets, you can see some of the most beautiful terrace houses in Sydney – it’s hard to imagine that the suburb was once considered in desperate need of redevelopment. The area contains a large number of heritage-listed buildings, a larger number of pubs and hotels, and more galleries than a person could possibly visit in one day. A sample of the many worth exploring include the Australian Centre of Photography, Stills Gallery, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and Sarah Cottier Gallery, as well as the University of New South Wales Galleries at the College of Fine Art (COFA) and associated Kudos Gallery.
Other things of interest include the Paddington Markets, which have been open every Saturday since 1973 on the grounds of Paddington Uniting Church. Oxford Street is also where you can find Ampersand Café Bookstore, buying and selling pre-loved books and sourcing rare publications on request. Nearby is Ariel Booksellers, one of Sydney’s finest independent bookstores, specializing in books on architecture, art, design, fashion, interiors and photography.
AUSTRALIAN CENTRE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
257 Oxford Street – website
36 Gosbell Street – website
ROSELYN OXLEY9 GALLERY
8 Soudan Lane – website
SARAH COTTIER GALLERY
23 Roylston Street – website
AMPERSAND CAFÉ BOOKSTORE
78 Oxford Street – website
42 Oxford Street – website
With its mix of commercial and residential properties, Surry Hills is a popular area for creative people of all backgrounds to live and work. It is probably because of this influx of innovation and energy that the 2010 zip code has also become known for its incredibly high concentration of restaurants, pubs and bars. A collision of creative elements can be seen to great effect at Golden Age Cinema and Bar, where a talented team has created a space that celebrates the rich history of the heritage-listed Paramount Building. Here, extensive renovations have produced an elegant bar accompanying the beautifully restored 1940s screening room. Films of all genres are shown six nights a week and every Tuesday ticket prices reflect the amount charged the year the film was originally released.
Object, previously a gallery and retail shop, has collaborated with Workshopped to provide a hub for creative ideas and design in Surry Hills, with a series of 8-12 week pop-up residencies. A treasure trove of jewelry, ceramics, textiles and art by Australian designers can be found at Collect, Object’s re-imagined retail space online. Other locations of interest include the Surry Hills Markets (every first Saturday of the month), Bourke Street Bakery and Belvoir Street Theatre.
GOLDEN AGE CINEMA AND BAR
80 Commonwealth Street – website
417 Bourke Street – website
SURRY HILLS MARKET
Corner of Crown and Collins Street – website
BOURKE STREET BAKERY
633 Bourke Street – website
BELVOIR STREET THEATRE
25 Belvoir Street – website
Carriageworks has transformed the old railway yards in Eveleigh into a hub for performance and art. The complex is also the Sydney home of Anna Schwartz Gallery. For the gastronomically inclined, every Saturday morning, Carriageworks hosts the outdoor (but covered) Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, with 70 or more stalls bursting with local New South Wales produce.
Nearby in Chippendale, galleries and studios have increasingly appropriated formerly commercial and industrial warehouses. Visual art abounds with a cornucopia of small galleries, many of them showing work by emerging and early-career artists, including The Commercial, MOP Projects, Galerie pompom and Mclemoi Gallery. With so much creativity within a relatively small area, new collaborations are continually forming, such as Kaleidoscope Gallery recently joining forces with Soma Studios to create a curated Sunday market promising everything from garden accessories to fashion and jewelry, accompanied by live music.
One of my favorite places in Sydney can be found in a 1940s Rolls Royce depot, now home to a spectacular collection of contemporary Chinese art. White Rabbit Gallery is reconfigured every six months, encouraging visitors to return often to see old favorites and discover new pieces. Though, it’s likely that many also return for the delicious dumplings served all day in the teahouse.
Written August 2014, by Tai Spruyt. Check her profile here
245 Wilson Street – website
ANNA SCHWARTZ GALLERY
245 Wilson Street – website
148 Abercrombie Street – website
2/27-39 Abercrombie Street – website