For someone that can't exist in an artless world, spring in Sydney and its annual "Art & About" festival is always a joy. Just walking around the city centre catching my eye left right and centre is someone's artistic expression. Some of it with a message, some just for fun and some thankfully, to brighten our day.
The whole thing, which runs for a month til 20 October, is a curated show created and paid for by the City of Sydney. This year is a delight really, with some of the longstanding favourites like City Life making a return and some very clever and engaging installations with a message.
The Sydney Life photography prize is the backbone of the festival and now in its 12th year. Each of the finalist images has been blown up and exhibited along St James Avenue in Hyde Park including sunbakers, family pets, a whale washed up on the beach, Spiderman enjoying a beer and an aerobics class in action.
Jenny Evans from Woollahra is the winner of the $10,000 prize. Jenny's stunning image, Eleanor, portrait of a boxer, was one of 22 finalist images selected from more than 1,300 submissions. It's an interesting mix and in capturing so many different aspects it's a show that hits home what a diverse old lot we are. I loved the black and white shot of Newtown called 'time is a foggy road that has no end' it's a very different and eerie look at City life.
Sydney Life's junior counterpart, Little Sydney Lives, is 20 images captured by kids aged 3-11 years and displayed in Sandringham Gardens. There very cute and I was a little envious, taking funky photos was never on my playlist way back in the day.
A celebration of the 'flashing men' that stop traffic around the world and keep pedestrians safe adorn street banners all over the city centre. 'Walking Men Worldwide' is a photographic collage of 99 different pedestrian traffic light icons. Just walking around and glancing at all the different interpretations with the city label on the banner, your mind drifts to those city streets, especially to those that you might have been lucky to visit.
I think the highlight and the most thought provoking is FIELD is a mesmerising artwork that brings the surreal into the public domain through constantly changing, reflected scenes in Hyde Park. The maze of mirrors on 81 posts create an ever-changing experience, in daylight it is very voyeuristic and at night almost a fairy glen.
I've read elsewhere that the artist Alexandra Heaney said "The purpose of FIELD is perspective, with the reflective material being a symbolic tool for reflecting on ourselves, those around us, our past and what is just around the corner – literally." You will find yourself questioning what is real and what is reflection – it's the must experience moment!
Snailovation (pictured above right) is part of the Regeneration Art Project, which places intriguing, large, coloured animal installations in a variety of unusual spaces across the globe to inspire people to see their cities in a different light. These Italian, Belgian and French artists have previously made giant turtles, rabbits and penguins in other world cities. The snails have captured everyone's attention and Facebook and Instagram pages have been saturated with photos of these very likable and colourful visitors.
When I heard a friend, who never raises an art whim, say it's like every street, laneway, building site, intersection and thoroughfare is a canvas, then I think something very special has engulfed us for the moment.