December is a month for rooftop parties, road trips and Christmas shopping, sure—but imagine if you could inject a little art into these tried and true summertime activities?
Shop unexpected original artworks, get a manicure from an artist in a carpark, or sip a margarita-beer hybrid care of the creative geniuses at Young Henrys on the roof of an iconic harbourside art museum.
Art always keeps things interesting—so here's our guide to what's good in Sydney and further afield this month.
All of your Instagram dreams have finally come true. Yes, Australia now has it's very own Yayoi Kusama installation—a mesmerising bumblebee yellow-coloured mirror world packed with the seminal Japanese artist's dots and spots. It's a trippy experience of both claustrophobic and infinite space, dancing between the microscopic and the cosmic.
THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS, as the installation is titled, opened to the public at the National Gallery of Australia on December 1 and happily, is here to stay as a part of the museum's permanent collection. While you're there, check out James Turrell's mystic and mysterious garden sculpture, Within without. Staying in Canberra? We've got you covered, here.
What: THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS
When: Open permanently from December 1
Where: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Christmas is soon but commercial galleries are closing sooner, so skip gift shopping for a minute this weekend and wander on down to Gallery 9 to catch Louise Tuckwell’s Abstractiv. The artist’s latest suite of vibrant non-objective paintings and tapestries are as bright, bold and wonderfully balanced as ever. The works are as varied in colour as they are in scale, with pieces ranging from vertical paintings that stretch just 13cm wide to a mural that fills the whole gallery wall.
Grounded in the studies of Greek Mathematician Euclid, Tuckwell fits a palette of bright reds, tawny oranges, muted blues and buttery yellows into a fresh Tetris of shapes and geometry. It is this clever compositional approach and her intuitive sense of colour that led to the artist’s representation at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Tamworth Textiles Biennale. The latter toured for two years, and this latest show shuts in two weeks.
When: Until 21 December 2018
Where: Gallery 9
Artist's Car Boot Sale
Okay, so if you are going to join in on festive season shopping you might as well do it a bit differently. Far more interesting than your standard Saturday market or Westfield wanderings, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is hosting an underground Car Boot Sale curated by Sydney photo media artist Garry Trinh. Descend into the lower-levels of World Square shopping centre to join emerging and established artist’s popping their car boots for a gallery experience that’ll blow the socks off your white-cube conventions.
There’ll be works fresh out the oven of Glebe’s kil.n.it ceramic studio and intimate backseat art performances. Highlights include Claudia Nicholson’s in-car nail salon, Rosie Deacon’s GoGet installation and FBi Radio’s back-seat DJ School. There’ll also be tunes from DJ Coris instead of Christmas pop-songs, refreshments and a standalone gift-wrapping service run to raise funds for Wesley Mission in their efforts to end homelessness.
What: Artists’ Christmas Car Boot Sale
When: Thursday 6 December, 5pm-6pm
Where: Parking Level 5, World Square, CBD
David Goldblatt: Photographs
Once upon a time before Instagram, photography served to shed light on some the worlds darkest hours. A self-taught artist born in Johannesburg, David Goldblatt became the world’s eye on South Africa’s turbulent history, and dedicated his life to documenting the rise and dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa. While evading actual “event” photography by definition, from 1948-2018 Goldblatt captured the times by zooming in on the personal histories of those who bore the brunt of the oppressive regime of racial segregation.
Though the photos are silent and striking without context, it is the supporting stories that make the experience all the more moving. Selected pieces are narrated by the photographer’s own sinewy voice, portraits of ex-offenders are supported by gut-wrenching statements from each subject and an extended documentary about Goldblatt’s journey is screened on rotation. Spanning over seven decades, the exhibition also serves as a poignant indirect portrait of the artist himself who died just prior to its opening. A Southern Hemisphere premier, this is a show to visit more than once.
What: David Goldblatt: Photographs
When: Until 3 March 2019
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art
Sounds on the Terrace
Take the edge off Goldblatt’s heavy histories and head upstairs to the roof for some Largerita’s. Yep, you read that right. MCA has teamed up with Young Henry’s for the ultimate cocktail crisscross of beers and margaritas. If you’ve never been a beer lover, this might turn you around. Sip, nibble, take in killer views of Sydney harbour and listen to some local musos.
MCA’s art at night events keep on getting better and this month they are bringing two stellar Sydney-based acts to entertain you as the sun sets behind the opera house. Not A Boys Name takes cues from The Strokes to give you indie-rock, distorted vocals and punchy guitar hooks. Second up is Fiction Writer for a fuzzier, dancier, rock tunes. Think Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood.
What: Sounds on the Terrace: December 2018
When: Wednesday 5 December, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Sculpture Terrace
Designing Bright Futures
Christmas gifts from the art world are all the end-of-year grad shows that give us a sneak preview of who will shape Australia’s art world tomorrow. In celebration of twelve practitioners in the early stages of their career, UNSW Art & Design presents a diverse group of recent graduates all exploring what it means to design amid issues of climate change, urban growth and reconciling our Indigenous heritage and colonial past. In grappling with heavy-hitting issues, the artists were afforded the luxury of rejecting a commercial approach to design.
Spanning diverse mediums of jewellery, textiles, graphics and interactive objects the exhibition offers a view of some of the brightest emerging designers of today. Take note of these names: Chloe Boudib, Samantha Dickens, Hannah Goddard, Boyd Ison, Jo Jarosinska, Meghan Kelly, Matilda Roberts, Marisa Suen, Ivana Taylor, Jenny Tin, Julie Toke and Kirra Weingarth. They were all handpicked by judges Lisa Cahill (ADC), Stephen Goddard (UNSW Art & Design) and the inimitable king of slick design and master of brass, Henry Wilson.
What: Designing Bright Futures
When: Until 23 January 2019
Where: Australian Design Centre
Looking for something to do this month? Check out our December hit list right here.
1, 2: Yayoi Kusama's THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS.
3, 4, 5: A selection from the David Goldblatt: Photographs exhibition.