Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Sydney Interlude

Chillin' in a Sydney cafe...

May in Sydney is usually a month of delicious weather, and this year was no exception. By June, the rain had come. For tow weeks of family, friends and quite a bit of nostalgia, I enjoy what only Sydney could turn on. Here’s a gallery of snapshots:

The Sydney Writers’ Festival: a day at the Walsh Bay wharves and theatre precinct, listening to authors with ideas and hanging out int he glorious sunshine with like-minded bibliophiles: bliss.

Waiting for our author...Sydney Theatre

Evening falls on the Festival, Walsh Bay Wharves

Balmoral Beach: at it’s winter best. Palm trees, sun on the soft waves, breakfast at The Bathers’ Pavilion: bliss.

The divine Balmoral Beach

The apple beignets at The Bathers Pavilion..mmmmm

"No Burn Walk"!
The Balmoral Burn: Sydney’s shortest but hardest race - 450 metres from beachside up Awaba Street, a particularly steep street which reaches a 13 degree incline. Elite athletes sprint up it (and fall gasping at the top). Then there are the events for parents & children, pets and owners (the dogs go crazy), disabled people, Olympic wheelchair athletes (you can have no idea how hard it is to push a racing wheelchair up that slope), schools races, corporate relays...and the event in which I participated: the walk. It took me about five minutes to power walk up the hill, and it was extremely exhausting. But they gave us all a lovely lunch on the sands afterwards, and everyone was in a great mood. Oh, and the event raised $3m for children’s hospitals. Very Sydney.

They're off...they're crazy...

The Vivid Festival: Sydney’s effort to lighten the dark days of winter (except it’s not that dark). Vivid includes a round-up of arts performances, but its centrepiece is the lighting of CBD buildings every evening for a couple of weeks in a garish display of coloured lights. The Opera House ‘sails’ are a prime target. Dotted around the streets are various plastic and perspex objects that look boring in the daylight but brilliant after dark. City skyscrapers glow red or green or multi-coloured stripes. But this year’s p├Čece de resistance was unanimously the Customs House at Circular Quay: the light show followed the architecture of the colonial building, telling some kind of crazy comic book story, washing up and down the facade, while the diners at the chic Cafe Sydney on the rooftop were silhoutted in the light.

Sydney Customs House becomes Vivid

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney - the new wing.
The Clock: Christian Marclay’s amazing video installation in the new wing of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Unless you’ve experienced this, it’s hard to describe how mesmerizing it can be. It is a 24-hour loop of film clips taken from masses of old movies, from a few seconds to a few minutes each. The key is that each clip contains a clock or watch face, or some other indication of time, and the time passes consecutively and in real time - so the 24 hours takes 24 hours to pass. Moreover, the film is shown to co-incide exactly with the time that the audience is viewing it. The sequences bleed over into each other very cleverly, with overlapping themes and images, and sound tracks that meld into each other. There’s no plot - just a sense that in the time you spend sitting there (comfy armchairs are provided), al kinds of things can have happened and all kinds of people can have had all kinds of experiences. And it’s not only about time - it’s also about, well, the clock. I visited four separate times, reaching a crescendo of a four-hour stint on a Thursday evening, the day that the MCA stayed open around the clock (pardon the pun) so that the whole 24 hours could be viewed. I didn’t last until midnight, but when I emerged at a tame 9.30 pm, the queue waiting to go in snaked out of the gallery and down the road. Here's a blogger who loved it as much as I did.

Revisiting favourite restaurants and cafes and finding new ones: in particular The Tea Cosy Cafe at the back of the Irish Shop in Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood, The Rocks. I mean, what’s not to like about fresh scones, a pot of Irish Breakfast tea, and knitted tea copies everywhere?

Cosy in The Tea Cosy

Fortifications for an early winter afternoon.

Hearing the Australia Quartet, one of Sydney's newest and hottest classical music newcomers, starring my dear buddy and pianist extraordinaire, Tamara Anna Cislowska (die-hard blog readers may recall that Tamara was the musical genius behind the Great London Birthday Concert of 2011). All four musicians are quite marvellous: Tamara Anna Cislowska (piano), Veronique Serret (violin), James Wannan (viola) and Thomas Rann (cello). Read about them here.

Australia Quartet take bow.

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