A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
Published March 2nd 2017
The extraordinary art of Charles Billich wrapped in history
The Billich Gallery, at 106 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, is one of Australia's leading contemporary art galleries. Housed in a humble old sailor's home near the International Terminal in The Rocks, it would've been easy to walk straight past, however, I was drawn in by the stunning piece of artwork at the front door.
The amazing piece, depicting yachts sailing past the Opera House, was mesmerising. Entry was free and I could see the 'skeleton' of the original building was almost an artwork in itself. Wooden railings, small arched windows overlooking the Quay, and bare wooden floorboards still exhibit the lifeblood of its former history. Sadly, it was not permissible to take photographs within the gallery, suffice to say the backdrop for Billich's huge display of artwork, oils on canvas and priceless paintings filling three floors, was a magnificent setting.
Charles Billich is one of Australia's most prominent living painters, and has a career spanning forty years. Charles was a young student dancer with the Opera Corp de Ballet in Rijeka, Croatia, went on to study art in Salzburg, Austria, and finally migrated to Australia in 1956. He was named the official Artist of the 1996 Summer Olympics, received the 2000 Sport Artist of the Year Award, created the official image for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and was named Designated Artist 2001 Centenary Nobel Peace Prize. His art is both romantic and colourful, and obviously shaped by personal experience. There's a story behind each piece he creates and his love of sport and the perfection of the elite athlete - both human and animal - is illustrated in subjects such as the racehorse Makeby Diva and the Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe.
This is a wonderful modern gallery in a beautiful historic building. Charles' artwork covers modern cityscapes, memorable moments such as Australia Day on Sydney harbour, the Rugby World Cup, and portraits of famous people, depicted in a surreal and often figurative way. If you love art, this is a must-visit. The gallery is open every day and can be hired as an event venue.
It's an easy walk up to the gallery from the Quay, or metered street parking can be found on Hickson Road.
Top Tip - Next to The Billich Gallery, at 104 George Street is Craft NSW. Housed in the historic Coroner's Court, members of The Society of Arts and Crafts of NSW sells unique, original handmade gifts, jewellery and clothing. The Rocks is a great historical hub and it's worth spending a day wandering the back lanes and alleyways.