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A secret garden

A quick ferry ride to Milsons Point and a stroll along the broad walk to Lavender Bay brings you to Wendy’s Secret Garden. The story behind this public but community maintained garden can be read here. It was created by Wendy Whiteley in reaction to Brett Whiteley’s sudden death.

The walk goes round Luna Park and is also the site of Comic Walk, lots of little sculptures of popular fictional characters. Of course May Gibbs Banksia Man was among a variety of banksia plants.

The first thing you see when your climb the stairs up to the garden is a huge Morton Bay Fig.

The whole site is threaded with narrow paths and steep stairways.

Hidden statuary and found objects.

Very welcoming but also very personal. The cupid fountain is from Margaret Olley’s garden.

Thatching of the arbour is the living bamboo.

I was surprised to see so many Angel Trumpet trees in a public space. So beautiful, but highly poisonous.

The garden stretches below the Whiteley house in what was infill land created when the railway was built. Now there are moves to create the Sydney Harbour Highline along this little used line.

After a lovely time exploring this garden I climbed up to Blues Point Road and then down to McMahons Point for the ferry back to Circular Quay. From this side you can see where the garden lies, right in the middle.

Then off on another ferry to Manly for the afternoon and back after sunset to see Vivid from the water. If you are going to be in Sydney, then a day on the harbour is a must.


Up and down in Surry Hills

On a before breakfast walk in and around the environs of my hotel and sticking mainly to lanes and alleyways, I looked up and I looked down and saw lots of interesting things.

A sign writing taking advantage of the clear sky. A paw paw tree bearing fruit.

Builders hard at work gutting and rebuilding the insides of lots of the tiny houses and industrial sites. This pocket handkerchief size lot used to be a mechanic’s shop. It will have four, 2 million plus apartments. I was told the paperwork just to get to this stage was horrendous and the builder doubts the developer will make much in the end.

Given half a chance I think trees and other vegetation will take over. Every small crack supports a lush plant or two and lots of pots decorate building fronts. I really liked the wall art at the end of this lane and the way it exploits both the window pillars and the real vegetation.

If you drive an Alpha, a lock up garage must be really important, even if it takes an umpteen point turn to get it out each morning.

The owner/owners here are not afraid of colour. These are typical houses, although there are also a lot with the overhanging balconies I associate with the older parts of Sydney.

There is quite a lot of infill building, particularly in the more industrial area. I stumbled upon the former Reader’s Digest building, which is really intriguing because it is so different from office towers of the period. Designed by John James and opened in 1967 it will probably become the focus of my next Art Quilters piece which has the theme ‘Architecture’.

Then back the the deco Paramount Studios building for a delicious breakfast at the Paramount Coffee Project.

Not the Sydney Quilt Show

I now have a Gold Opal which means I can use public transport all day with a maximum charge of $2.50. A pretty good deal. I made the most of it today by getting my head around the bus network and going to Drummoyne. Not known as a tourist destination it is the place to go if you won’t be in town for the Quilt Show next week.

Easy for quilters to guess where I went. Material Obsession is a mecca for fabric lovers.

The corridors and many walls are hung with the latest quilts. Room after room is stocked from floor to ceiling with the most amazing fabrics, patterns and equipment.

This is just one of them.

Despite being flat out preparing for next week Helena and Kathy were most attentive and gave me lots of information and ideas.

So who needs to go to a Quilt Show?

A quick look

The Archibald paintings are also at the Art Gallery of NSW at the moment and seeing them was a possibility this morning. I spent so long with the tapestries I changed plans. But the Young Archies were fantastic.

Daniel Brough age 7 My Dad when he was 17 years old. You can almost hear the dad telling the story of the huge fish he had caught.

Esther Kim age 8 My little sister Rachel She loved how her young sister looked in her red hood last winter.

Maya Butler de Castro age 8 Self-portrait with animals She thinks animals and the environment is very important and she likes watching magpies visiting her garden and splashing in the birdbath.

During a quick survey of the Australian art collection I saw this work Waratah 1887 by French artist Lucien Henry who was in Australia from 1879 to 1891.

I loved the detailed islamic-style background and the colour contrasts.

Lady and the Unicorn

Wednesday morning and here is the view from my balcony. I’m on the corner so can see old and new Sydney in a few directions.

Off to the Art Gallery of NSW. I haven’t been here since I came as a child with my family. But as soon as I saw those painters’ names around the top of the building it was very familiar. There was even a Morris Major Elite parked out front – same car but different colour that we drove up in. Same trip we stayed at the iconic TV motel in Gundagai.

The six French tapestries are amazing. Hard to believe they were created around 1500. I spent ages looking at them and started discussing them with a young lady who is a real tapestry and costume fan. Made it all even more interesting. After an hour I needed a coffee and fortunately even though pass outs are not available it was relatively quiet and I was allowed to go and come back again. Which was good as when I got back a lot of viewers had gone for lunch and I didn’t feel bad getting up really close.

This little dog shows how depiction of texture, pattern and form is so amazing. The work is wool with some silk which I assume is used for the shine on the corner of the cushion.

The background of flowers and animals is typical of medieval tapestry and appears to be done by different weavers from the main characters. The same images are used over and over such as with these rabbits.

This does not make this part of the works any less mind blowing.

The lion and the unicorn appear in each tapestry. Lions not being common in France, it was fun to speculate about the ideas behind the different ways they appear, particularly the faces.

And look at this. The cloth beneath the positive organ being played in the tapestry representing the sense of hearing, is just like my cushion. I made it in needlepoint to use up left over tapestry wools from other cushion projects.

Cats are cute too.

I am very glad I came all this way for an art exhibition. Lady and the Unicorn closes on 24 June.

Vivid Sydney

First another hotel view. The lift. An over the top interior.

Tuesday evening I headed out to see Vivid. I thought I would just visit Vivid in the Gardens, but they way it was organised, the one-way lighted path started near the Opera House, so I spent time at Circular Quay as well. A mild evening had lots of people out and about including a lot of children. But it was not overcrowded. The light show was everywhere and totally mesmerising.

The gardens had illuminated plants and a sequence of installations but all sorts of artists,  who I cannot acknowledge as I didn’t pay attention to the information pillars. I think they are all listed on the Vivid Sydney site.

Trees taking on new personalities

Some spooky things

Following pathways

Reflections in water

Huge paper lanterns

and birds were singing in the gazebo. Many many more amazing things to see, but one of my favourites was a projection designed by TAFE students on the facade of Government House. Not possible to get a reasonable photo unfortunately.

IMG_9649Finally the view from Cahill Expressway, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Opera House.


A few days in Sydney without a huge airport parking bill? It is possible and I have just managed to get here using bus, train, Skybus, plane, train.

It all started before dawn,

when I caught a local bus to the station. No one else was about. Train to Southern Cross then Skybus to the airport, easy. I arrived an hour before departure time only to be messaged that the flight was delayed, as it turned out by more than an hour.

The flight itself was short and uneventful.

I am staying at a rather trendy new hotel in Surry Hills.

It is in the old Paramount Studios building and has an industrial decor. The balcony is lovely, and the bathroom is two separate cubicles – all very nice.

Sydney is in a state of uproar, it is really, really noisy with road works everywhere.

and look, they are putting down tram tracks!

Not much in the way of street art, it seems quite strange, but I did find this one on the side of Pilgrim House.

No Sydney stay is complete without a visit to the Queen Victoria Building, with its dome and quirky spiral stair.

There I found some lovely textiles, handwoven alpaca from Peru and silks from Armenia, Syria and Turkey.