Articles about Sydney

Everything you expect in a great city, plus beaches, sunshine and an easygoing attitude.

Reclaiming Felix the Cat

Felix the cat! The wonderful, wonderful cat. You’ll laugh so much your sides will ache, your heart will go pit-a-pat, watching Felix the wonderful cat!

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Frank Moorhouse — Sydney Writers’ Festival

Last week, Australian writer Frank Moorhouse spoke at the University of Wollongong as a spin-off of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Alerted by the microscopic notice in the local newspaper, we went off to see him. We arrived just in time, negotiated with the ladies at the door, and went in. Arming ourselves with red wine and spring rolls, we sat down with about 80 others to listen to what Mr Moorhouse had to say.

I have read about Frank Moorhouse and his work before, but somehow have still never read any of his writing. Unfortunately, the last I had heard of him was in an uncomplimentary review of The Best Australian Stories 2004, which he edited; the reviewer thought the stories were too stylish rather than substantial. But I had also read glowing reviews of his recent novel Dark Palace and his humorous collection The Inspector-General of Misconception. As for the man himself, I didn’t really know what to expect.

After a traditional Aboriginal welcome and an introduction, Frank got up and started to talk about the obligations that readers have. For example, how much of a book must we read before we can legitimately decide that the book is no good? The audience had diverse views on this: one man thought that you really should read the entire book once you’d started it; others thought that 50 or 100 pages was enough to decide. (I was reminded of Shaw’s quip “You don’t have to eat a whole egg to know it’s rotten.”) One woman said the minimum was 100 pages, but this number could be reduced by 5 for every year over 50: due to her greater life experience, a 60-year-old could tell a book’s quality after only 50 pages.

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Over My Dead Body — Mona Hatoum

I went to see the Mona Hatoum exhibition “Over My Dead Body” at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on the weekend. I had seen some of her work before, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art several years ago. This new exhibition includes a lot of material from her performance art pieces — videos and preparatory notes — as well as some of her sculptures and installations. Very interesting stuff, though a lot of her work has an unsettling underlying violence. Particularly the performance where she cuts out her own entrails and serves them up on dinner plates.

The exhibition included the preparatory notes for a piece called “Live Work for the Black Room”, which consisted of the artist, dressed in black in a completely black room, repeatedly falling on the floor, chalking the outline of her body on the floor, and then getting up and lighting a candle in the outline. Much as I like the idea of this piece, the thing that really stuck in my mind from the whole exhibition was this sentence from the notes.

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Jazz in the Park — Vaucluse House

Live jazz, fine weather, snacks and drinkies – just another evening in Sydney. Last night we went to Jazz in the Park, held annually by Sydney’s Historic Houses Trust in historic Vaucluse House. We sat on the grass, nibbled, drank coffee and listened to three bands, each taking us to a different corner of the jazz universe.

Jazz in the Park at Vaucluse House

As usual at outdoor events in Sydney, the place was packed – we were lucky to find a spot for our Winnie-the-Pooh picnic rug. (sadly, our Keroppi rug is packed away at the moment.) It was a pleasant afternoon as we arrived, and The Dan Barnett Big Band had already started: they were the first of three extravaganly named acts. After their set, Bridie and The Boogie Kings continued, and as the sun started to disappear, Armondo Hurley and The Funk-O-Matics came on. They lifted the tempo a bit and got dangerously funky – there was a lot of dancing going on by this stage.

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Art in the Gardens — Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is a beautiful and friendly public garden. It’s currently hosting an interesting exhibition. I haven’t really have time to investigate, but the theme seems to be integrating technology with nature in innovative ways. The exhibitions include a vertical garden, a set of planters made from car tires, and this car.

Car under turf

It may appear to be a novel design for a carport, but I think it’s actually just a sculpture representing the exhibition’s philosophy.

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Sydney — mon Amour

When I arrived back in Australia after four years in Scotland I had a lot of re-acquainting to do. Here are the top ten things I didn’t think I’d miss about Australia, but am glad to see again.

10. Hype.

You thought Edinburgh’s Hogmanay was big; check out Sydney 2000!

9. Clan Analogue.

Oz techno/experimental/weirdo music collective.

8. Tim Tams.

Chocolate-coated iced chocolate biscuits for dunking in coffee

7. The Simpsons.

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