Sydney travel blog day 6

Friday 20 January 2023: The final day

Art Gallery of NSW

It was raining, so a morning photowalk to have another look at some of the houses on Coogee Beach Road wasn’t going to happen.

Instead I decided to visit the Art Gallery of NSW, which meant a second trip into the city.

It was tempting to take the architecture guide so I could find some more modernist buildings, but I knew my back wouldn’t thank me, so I just stuck to the plan of going to the gallery.

Of course, only I would set out for a gallery, take a wrong turn and end up at a hospital. The name “Gallery Road” should have been an indicator of where I actually needed to be.

An old sandstone building with a triangle shaped roof and six columns at the entrance. The words Art Gallery of New South Wales on the front. Two blue signs either side of the entrance.
Art Gallery of NSW. On Gallery Road.

I’ve learned that I don’t like to spend hours and hours in galleries so my aim was to just look at the two 20th century collections.

This ended up being a good choice.

The first collection I went to showcased art from the 1960s to 2000s. The gallery traces “the connections and distinctions between local artists and global developments in the later 20th century, from pop to political art”.

I was fascinated by the work of Lebanese Australian photographer Khaled Sabsabi, whose exhibit Guerrilla comprises 33 images from 2006 that document the aftermath of the Israel-Hezbollah War, which decimated large areas of Beirut. The description notes “each photograph has been meticulously overpainted in an act of effacement that mirrors their subject . . . [Sabsabi’s] long, meditative process of reworking the photographs might be seen as an attempt to usurp the reality they represent.”

Three rows of seven small photographs, framed and matted
Images from Guerilla by Khaled Sabsabi

These were amazing, moving images.

Then I noticed some work I instantly recognised. Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs of blast furnaces. If you’re not familiar with their work, they were German photographers who photographed disappearing industrial architecture, such as blast furnaces and water towers, in Europe and America.

three rows of four black and white photos of industrial blast furnaces
12 photographs of blast furnaces by Bernd and Hilla Becher

Their work sought to emphasise the similarities between these structures and they would always shoot from the same “objective” point of view and always on overcast days to avoid shadows to highlight the basic structural pattern of the subjects.

I was so excited to see their photographs in person!

I did have to tear myself awaye however, and I found the 1900-1960s collection. This showcases “Australian and international art that reveals exhilarating, competing and even tragic responses to the first decades of the 20th century”.

Some of the works here I especially liked were

I also liked the sculpture by Robert Kilppel, No. 300, which is an example of the artist’s exploration of “the metaphysics of the modern age through the debris of its industrial technologies”. His vision was that “human-made technologies and the forces of nature might co-exist symbiotically”.

A sculpture constructed from industrial iron fragments
No. 300 by Robert Kilppel


I may not have been able to see Sirius on Tuesday but I bought the book about it in the gift shop.

A hand holding a book with the title Sirius on the cover over a photo of a concrete building with orange, yellow and brown hues
Save Our Sirius

The  book tells the story of Sirius up until a 2017 court decision regarding the Heritage status of the complex, including the stories of some of the people who lived there.

I learned from this that Sirius was Abigail’s home in the Playing Beatie Bow movie, which I’ll have to watch again so I can verify this!

I am not going out to take photos of tall buildings . . .

I could see a cool building from Hyde Park as I was leaving which I later identified as 201 Elizabeth Street (Kann Finch & Partners 1979), formerly the T&G Building. Just a couple of photos won’t hurt, will it?

A tall concrete building surrounded by other tall buildings
Former T&G Building, 201 Elizabeth Street

After a quick (very quick) stroll back to Martin Place (because I just had to see the Commonwealth Bank building that the old bank money boxes were based on), I was true to my word and headed back to Randwick.

A Commercial Palazzo style building
The Commonwealth Bank money box building

The end of the week

The last thing I had to do this week was to go to NIDA to sit in on the last half hour of Kramstable’s drama course, where parents were invited to see what they paid for. (Ha!)

It was fabulous. The course was about acting in scenes for close up film, so was a very different approach to the way most of the students were used to acting for theatre. They don’t have to project their voices as much (because there’s no one in Row Z who has to hear them) and they need to learn to trust the camera to pick up their feelings rather than having to express everything strongly.

They had all rehearsed a scene from a movie with a partner, and each got to perform it twice, once with the camera close up to their face and the second time as the other actor in the scene. So what we saw was the close-up of each person’s performance on a big screen.

It was a totally different experience to going into to one of Kramstable’s drama classes and seeing them acting out a piece in a theatre context. I was happy we got to see it and that he’d chosen to do something outside of his comfort zone for this course.

This was our last night in Sydney. After dinner, we went back to the accommodation to pack up ready to come home in the morning. That was all (mostly) uneventful, and we came home to not one but two broody chickens.

Cue back to normal.

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