Skip to content

The Saturday InDesign and Sydney Tour

August 3, 2009

I went to Sydney for five days last week, primarily for Saturday InDesign and to visit a couple of key galleries, but also to take time to contemplate my roots. I was born in North Sydney and lived there until I was 10 years old. While I feel a sense of connection to the city, I am simultaneously disconnected – a foreigner in my own birthplace. I wanted to return to my earliest memories and to dig beneath the surface of the architecture which binds this urban landscape. There I found some soul, in both the past and the present.

Here’s how the trip unfolded…

Wednesday 29 July

The first afternoon was spent at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), where we saw a lovely exhibition of photographs by the Aboriginal photographer Ricky Maynard. Entitled, Ricky Maynard: Portraits of a Distant Land it comprised a selection of sixty images from six bodies of work developed over more than two decades of practice of Tasmania’s physical and social landscapes, following song lines and ochre trails, tribal movements and historical displacement routes, creating a form of visual diary derived from collective oral histories. The deeply personal project records cultural and historical sites significant to Maynard’s people, the Ben Lomond and Cape Portland peoples of Tasmania.

Presented concurrently, Revealing Moments in Time featured selected work by leading documentary photographers who have influenced Ricky Maynard’s professional practice, including work by Mary Ellen Mark as well as members of the f/64 group of west coast American photographers such as Edward Weston.

Then, Karl and I created our own ‘architectural tour’ of Sydney.

Thursday 30 July

Another cultural afternoon spent by sparkling Sydney Harbour was at the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) and was a real hidden treasure in the urban landscape. On the way there, we stopped into St Mary’s Cathedral. With the mid-afternoon light filtering through the stain-glass windows, it was truly divine!

We saw the exhibition Silk Ikats of Central Asia: From the collection of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, which featured 50 exotic and colourful robes and textiles, wall coverings and jewellery, mainly from Uzbekistan, a land of nearly 30 million people. Central Asian ikats were almost unknown to the rest of the world until as recently as 20 years ago.

While often the term ikat, derived from the Malay word for ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’, is used to refer to the actual process, in Central Asia the Persian term abrbandi – literally cloud (abr) tying (band) is used. The dyeing and binding processes used to create ikats are complex, so the more colours and the more complex the patterns, the more admired the ikat.

The exhibition installation allowed for a breath-taking experience to a backdrop of middle-eastern music as the pieces were displayed as if hovering above the floor. So incredibly beautiful… I need to work in colour again!

Friday 31 July

This was a personal walk down memory lane…

I took Karl to visit the house in which I grew up, located in North Sydney. The current owners have brought it back to its original state, working with a heritage architect. It was as I remembered, prior to my dad enclosing the front veranda. It really looks fantastic!

Kindly, the current owner invited us in and walked us through the renovation history. It’s funny… the rooms all looked so much smaller than I remember as a child, but it’s not as though the rooms were small, it’s just that I am now ‘big’! To be in a position to go back in time, 30 years since I lived there and see it as it is now, was a gift. Memories flooded back and I found myself walking the road of my early youth.

Before we got there, Karl had said, “maybe we shouldn’t go… what if it’s been ruined and you’ll be upset?” We took the risk and it really made me happy to know that such lovely people live there, people who respect history and the intent of the original architecture. This was a ‘wow’ moment in our trip and something which I intend to explore further.

Saturday 1 August

Game on!

We hit Saturday InDesign in a pack of four, later joined by more friends who are design lovers…

We kicked off at Space Furniture at 10am and took in Patricia Urquiola’s new outdoor range. Then, we headed to FY2K to catch up with the InDesign crew and talk to the guys from Rugs Carpet and Design. The technology they’re using for digitally printing carpet is quite amazing.

After, we hoped on one of the shuttle buses to the PYD Building and Warehouse where I spent some quality time at The Country Trader talking to the staff from Designer Rugs. They really have created very high quality product in both their own range and their designer range (where they work with other designers, such as ClothEaston Pearson etc) to create new designs.

James Richardson Group hosted some sculptural installations using a range of Thonet chairs, however, my pick was this amazing fabric from the JR Weave range which has a cross-stitch effect (something close to my heart as you know!)…

Macquarie Textiles and Iken had a great satellite stand in a marquee located in Harmony Park, Surry Hills. Their display took as influence, Eero Aarnio’s environmentally friendly ‘The Tree’, with proceeds going directly to plant fruit trees in the Peruvian Andes. Macquarie featured their Crypton® Green upholstery range for healthcare and hospitality fabric applications.

At Living Edge we took in the Launchpad Exhibition (for which I was shortlisted). My favourite pieces were the stand up lamps and hanging lights ‘Porcini Stem’ and ‘Porcini Canopy’ by Jaquie Hagan and Madeleine Potter. The outstanding craftsmenship in their use of wood and felt was really beautiful. The pieces are robust, but not clunky and hold your attention to look past their form and challenge your perception as to how they are made.

Planet held some interesting ceramic pieces. I’d definitely go back for a second peek…

Finally, we had to call it a day at Interface Flor near Central Station for The Project, where several architectural firms combined forces with designers to respond to the brief ‘Sense’ and create an installation using the environmentally responsible carpet tiles from any of the Interface Flor ranges. You could vote on your favourite… and we did (Woods Bagot)!

Sunday 2 August

A relaxing day with friends, we went out to Middle Head for some ‘view catching’. It was the first time I have ever been and the views were spectacular! The harbour was alive with sailing vessels and the harbour-side with picnic-ers and sporty-types. This gave me a completely different view of Sydney – the air was clear, the sky and harbour – blue and my eyes wide open to present-day Sydney, one that is perhaps more accessible to me as an adult…

In contrast the afternoon was spent indoors at The Monkey Bar in Balmain where we supported our friend Neil, in his new band ‘The Clue’, bring on their original R&B and easy listening tunes. A great family gig with at least 50% of the audience under 8 years old! Seeing our friends, people who we’ve met in other cities and who now live in Sydney was a joy. It brought home the fact that in some ways, it’s not where you live, but who you’re with that makes the difference… How do we bring this feeling to the material objects we surround ourselves with? What makes this connection? We were sad to say good-bye after such a wonderful and productive trip, but will be back again soon no doubt…

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: