Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW @ State Library of NSW

Public architecture is a fascination for me. I guess it comes from growing up in a new and growing Canberra. So when told of the current big exhibition at the State Library of NSW  I knew I had to go.

The exhibition consists of text, photographs and models that tell a remarkable story of public buildings in New South Wales Over the last 200 years. The exhibition is drawn from the work of the Government Architect’s office as they have overseen the design, oversight and construction of courts, jails, police stations, schools, universities and other important public buildings.

The exhibition tracks history from early buildings like Hyde Park Barracks through to many recent constructions.The displays are woven from materials harvested from the Mitchell Library and the offices of the architect. As a historical exhibition it is a wonderful survey and worth the hour it takes to get through it.

Some pics below show it to one level but better to see the full pdf exhibition guide on the web page

20160312_135204 20160312_135416 20160312_135648 20160312_140517 20160312_14052720160312_141801 20160312_141807 20160312_141829 20160312_141834

Tracking Security – Veronica Habib @ Casula Powerhouse

Veronica Habib’s work in this exhibition explores the issue of public safety and our perception of danger and risk in public spaces. She has woven into her art the use of tickets from modern public transport. These tickets are simple to use, keep records of transport habits and are possibly useful to track citizens.

Her work is not bubbly in its look but it is not paranoid. It has a provocative stance and raises the issues through messages on the tickets. It is a delightful exhibition.

Pics and text info below.

20151229_104251 20151229_104305 20151229_104315 20151229_104322 20151229_104327 20151229_104356

20151229_104221 20151229_104224 20151229_104234

Transpire – UC Landscape Architecture students @ Belconnen Arts Centre

21 Oct – 15 Nov 2015
I Teach year 7 and the students are looking at ways to improve the livability of their suburbs. Today I saw an exhibition at the Belconnen Arts Centre of landscape design students from the University of Canberra. The UC students produced three panel mock ups of solutions of a feature to make communities better. It was inspiring to me just to absorb the wide range of considerations that were woven into their designs so I will use their approach in teaching the students on Monday.
Their projects included some park solutions at Marulan, a park facility at Mulligans flat, a landscape response to embed the Islamic centre into the southern suburb of Monash and an art/ sculpture park at Queanbeyan. Each project was addressed by two students with different emphasis and all of them wove wider considerations into their project. The panels were huge so it is hard to put them with this post but I will include some detail shots I liked.

















The Road to Wollongong @ Wollongong Art Gallery

27 June -1 November
I love historical survey art exhibitions and “The Road to Wollongong” is a good one. It begins with indigenous leaders leading anglos down the Bulli Pass. It includes lots of wonderful paintings and drawings of the developing landscape and settlement of the region. There are some confronting industrial images, there are historical objects and heaps of insights into the life of the various peoples of the communities of the area. The exhibition includes some community campaigns for workers rights and against war.
A virtue of an exhibition like this is that it takes snapshots of the past of the region and inserts them into the present. This process confronts us with past values and ideas and some of those are uncomortable. Attitudes to race is changing and this exhibition demonstrates past approaches.. There are several other past insights. Wollongong has changed and the works I loved the most were those of Riste Andrievski which record the industrial past in charcoal bleakness.
Below are some sample pictures a web page and a flyer.











Rethinking the city – Steven Liaros and Nimini De Silva @ Connection Arcade Parramatta

In an arcade at Parramatta the other day I had a conversation with Steven Liaros and Nimini De Silva in a Pop up gallery. They are collaborating to have conversations with the public about cities, their qualities their futures, people and their participation in their cities. It was fascinating to chat with a town planner and a water focused photographer and I bet a project like this has started lots of interesting conversations. A great idea.

Harry Seidler – Painting towards architecture @ Museum of Sydney

Harry Seidler was a significant contributor to the built environment of Australia and especially Sydney. He was also influential in the intellectual world of architectural and design debates of the last half century or more. The current exhibition in the Museum of Sydney celebrates Seidler, his development his major work, his intellectual heroes and the many processes he went through in his creative work.
The exhibition is rich with photographs, blue prints, historical text, models, and other helpful materials to convey the importance of his contribution to architecture and to the city of Sydney. The Museum of Sydney does a continuing good job of representing the history of the built form of Sydney and this exhibition does that to a high standard.








Lego – Towers of Tomorrow @ Museum of Sydney

I have never seen so many people jammed into the level three exhibition space of the Museum of Sydney when I went on Thursday. They ranged from three to eighty. They were all there because of their fascination with those ubiquitous coloured plastic bricks – Lego. Engagement, chat, fun, collaboration, creativity were all filling the air.
For me the magnet was the set of great world tower buildings created out of Lego over thousands of hours with thousands of bricks. Impressive does not get close. These towers are up to three metres tall and reflect the distinctive shapes of the towers.
I loved the information burbs supplied with the tower models. For each tower there is a brief summary of the building itself including floors, completion date, name, city and designers. Then there is a panel on the Lego model including the number of bricks used and hours taken to complete. The Shanghai Tower used 105,000 bricks and 185 hours to complete and is over three metres tall. Obviously these are not for the usual household workers to produce.
In the room people can create towers and other buildings and put them on the central table for other visitors to enjoy. The central table has offerings that reflect adventurous and mundane design, symmetry and randomness, careful colour lay out and chaotic colour choice. the most surprising one to me was one that was largely a single stack of bricks that stood over a metre tall – a testament to the exact tolerances of Lego parts.
Having spent thousands of fun filled hours of my life with Lego and children this exhibition is a great place to spend a few hours and it was marvelous to see three 20 something mates in the room constructing stuff in the midst of children, parents and grandparents.










Suburbia – Kirrily Hammond @ Beaver Galleries

Kirrily Hammond paints suburban scenes. They are not the clinical real estate pictures but a more intense and gloomy view. There are scenes that weave electric wires and roof lines, there are alleys and there are many other aged and run down scenes that are pictured. The paintings have a energetic windy side to them as well.
I have put some pics and the gallery sheet below:







Lumiere – Ned Hatch @ M16 Artspace

Street lighting is something most people take for granted. Ned Hatch does not. He has a keen eye for the beauty, distinctiveness and design of the light furniture in city streets. His twenty five pictures on exhibition were taken in Spain, Italy, France and Germany. It is always fascinating when a photographer focuses on a single item and creates delightful variety through choice of example and shot.
This exhibition shows light stands that range from ones looking like old gas fired ones through to sleek aluminium ones. There are ones with the cameras and other accoutrements hanging off them. Every one he has pictured has a beauty all of its own.
I have included four pics and the gallery sheet.





Sydney Open 2014 @ Sydney CBD

This event ticks so many boxes in my areas of interest that I ended the day in a state of ecstasy. Architecture, design, history, art, city planning, people all come together for an enjoyable day out in Sydney CBD on a Sunday.
The event costs a $40 cover charge to gain admission to 50 buildings of various kinds. The buildings range from new built highrise apartments and offices through buildings of sugnificance and utility to marvelous places such as the Hyde Park Barracks which I have been past hundreds of times in my life but have never been inside.
I guess the highlight for me this year was the National Art school as it combined design, architecture, history and art in one venue. I got to do a tour with an architecture whose practice is neck deep in preservation. His tour explained the history and design features of the Gaol that has been converted for use of the Art school. Again as I lived at one stage not long out of high school in a back street near Taylor Square I have walked around this on the way back and forward to the Cross many times and have never been inside. It was fascinating.
In my day from 9.30am to 4.00pm I went to The Mint, The NSW Parliament, 31 Bligh St, The BMA building, History House, Deutsche Bank and several art studios.
The organisers have two intersecting loops of shuttle busses that mean that for the long hauls you do not have to walk which is nice. Every building is attended by well informed enthusiastic volunteers. I loved it and think I will make it part of my calendar for the next decade. One of the bonuses was the surprise that the covered carpark in the Domain was only $10 dollars for the whole day so that for the long drive home to Canberra the car was cool.
Some pics below: