Loading

Sydney’s art scene with Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley

White Rabbit Gallery, ChippendaleCredit: Destination NSW

Couple viewing an exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, Sydney.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Sydney’s art scene with Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale Credit: Destination NSW

Couple viewing an exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, Sydney.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Hashtags #feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Sydney-based art curator Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley has specialised in commissioning site-specific works over the last decade, including supporting renowned curator Barbara Flynn to realise large-scale commissions in Sydney’s public domain. Now senior curator of visual arts at urban cultural precinct Carriageworks in Eveleigh, Hanley’s recent projects include co-curating the 2023 edition of The National: Australian Art Now, a biennial survey of contemporary Australian art exhibited at Carriageworks, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Campbelltown Arts Centre. Here, Hanley shares her top places to dive into Sydney’s arts and culture scenes.  

Drop into Carriageworks 

“I would always come to Carriageworks even before I began working here,” says Hanley of the multi-arts venue housed in the former Eveleigh Railway Workshops in the inner-city suburb of Eveleigh, between Redfern and Newtown. “This old industrial railyard is a unique site for artists and performers to respond to, but it also hosts cultural events like the Sydney Writers’ Festival, alongside the weekly Saturday Farmers Market, which all happens in the same precinct.” 

Experience big hitters anew 

“The new Sydney Modern project at the Art Gallery of New South Wales is an exciting addition to what is happening in Sydney,” says Hanley of the recent opening of the extension of the city’s landmark gallery next to the Royal Botanic Garden in central Sydney. “It’s a beautiful, porous building, and I’m excited to see how the space will be used, including the commissions that will be presented in the former oil tanks downstairs.” Hanley also recommends checking out the gallery’s cinema program. “Its series and one-off events, presenting contemporary moving image works and also historical cinema, are really great,” she says.  

Get a taste of performance art 

Art is accessible in many forms in Sydney, with Phoenix Central Park in inner-city Chippendale highly recommended by Hanley for an inspiring night out. “It’s a beautiful intimate performance space presenting local and international acts,” she explains. So popular are the boundary-pushing performances at this philanthropic initiative that tickets, which are always free, are issued at random to those who have entered the online ticket ballot for the particular show.  

Don’t miss the city’s smaller arts spaces 

Sydney’s smaller neighbourhood galleries, says Hanley, can pack a rousing punch, showcasing a diverse range of works by artists both emerging and established. “On Llankelly Place in Kings Cross there’s The Cross Arts Projects, which is a small space but it shares interesting contemporary practice that is often focused on socio-political issues. I first saw the bark works of [Yolŋu artist] Naminapu Maymuru-White in that space, and Naminapu was in The National 4 this year at Carriageworks. She created a 42-piece bark work in black and white ochre that mapped the River of Stars, or the Milky Way.” 

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale Credit: Destination NSW

SUPERNATURAL art exhibition being showcased at White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale Credit: Destination NSW

SUPERNATURAL art exhibition being showcased at White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Friends enjoying a run through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Friends enjoying a run through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Seek out Sydney’s public art 

Sydney’s famously balmy weather makes it an ideal city for enjoying its public art, and there’s no shortage of it. “There are a number of works across Chippendale’s Central Park,” says Hanley. “Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist has a project there, and Tadashi Kawamata has his Big Nest there. And then close by [in the Greenland Centre on Bathurst Street] there’s a marbled mosaic ceiling by Agatha Gothe-Snape called The Noblest.” 

Hanley also recommends checking out Badger Bates’ Gates by Barkandji Elder and leading Aboriginal artist William Brian ‘Badger’ Bates at Yirranma Place in inner-city Darlinghurst, featuring three intricate panel gates – blacksmithed by Bates working with Matt Mewburn of Eveleigh Works – that illustrate stories critical to the life and worldview of the Barkandji people. A new work on her own list to see is the George Street Plaza and Community Building, a collaboration between another renowned Aboriginal artist, Daniel Boyd, and Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, which takes the form of a perforated canopy in the city centre. 

Indulge in a local art purchase 

Sydney’s rich array of commercial art galleries offer the perfect opportunity to take a piece of Sydney’s art scene home with you. Among Hanley’s top picks is Fine Arts, Sydney in Paddington, and The Commercial in Marrickville, which “represents [Kamilaroi and Bigambul Aboriginal artist] Archie Moore, who will represent Australia at the next Venice Biennale early next year,” she adds. 

Inspire budding creatives 

Many of Sydney’s arts and cultural spaces have dedicated programs and other offerings for kids, while others invite children to interact with the art itself. Among them is New Zealand-born artist Mike Hewson’s St Peters Fences in the inner west suburb of St Peters – a children’s playground made of replica fences from homes demolished to make way for Sydney’s largest motorway project. “It’s a great outdoor space for children — and parents — to play,” says Hanley.  

Immerse in Sydney’s arts events 

You don’t even need to enter a gallery to get a taste of Sydney’s rich arts and culture scenes. “Sydney hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year, from the Biennale of Sydney to the Sydney Film Festival, and I think it’s important if you are visiting to seek out those events,” says Hanley.  

19th Biennale of Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Tinka Pittoors Dysideological Principle, 2013

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

19th Biennale of Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Tinka Pittoors Dysideological Principle, 2013

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Friends enjoying a visit the the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Credit: Destination NSW

Friends enjoying a visit the the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

#feelnewsydney #ilovesydney

MORE INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

More Inspirational Stories

ALL ASSETS FROM THE DESTINATION NSW MEDIA CENTRE ARE FOR EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY AND MUST BE USED IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS.


For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

REGISTER
NOW

Access assets curated for media and content creators.

For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

Already have an account?

Permission Request


Destination NSW wants to access your Destination NSW Media Centre account.


This application will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your phone number, if provided
  • View your street address, if provided
  • View basic information about your organization, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This access will help Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


Do you agree to allow this access? If yes, click the REGISTER button.


You can unsubscribe at any time.

1 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Permission Request

Destination NSW wants to review your registration for your Destination NSW Media Centre account.

This review will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your basic information about your organisation, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This will assist Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


By clicking REGISTER, you agree that you have read and agree to the TERMS & CONDITIONS and Destination NSW's PRIVACY POLICY


You can unsubscribe at any time.