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Five Great Free Exhibitions You Must See

Home > Sydney > Art | Exhibitions | Family | Free | Fun Things To Do | Galleries | Photography | Shows
by Jake (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Sydney. Visit my blog here.
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There are few better ways to avoid Sydney's latest installment of miserable winter weather than taking refuge in some of the city's best galleries. Here is a selection of five great exhibitions you shouldn't miss: all are fantastic and all are free.

1. John Kaldor

Back in 2008, businessman, art enthusiast and all-round rich guy John Kaldor donated his entire collection (some $30m worth) of modern art to the Art Gallery of NSW. The collection was so extensive, the gallery had to set aside a whole new floor just to house it. This May, it opened for the first time.

Sol LeWitt's 'Wall drawing #1091'.

If you haven't seen it already, this is an exhibition you simply cannot miss. We're talking some serious quality here. Jeff Koons, Robert Rauchenberg, Richard Prince, Gilbert & George (a personal favourite) are just some of the art world heavy hitters on show.

Everything is worth a look, but some highlights include Sol LeWitt's work, like his mind-bending Wall drawing #1091, a room painted in loops and swirls of psychedelic colours. Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's If there were anywhere but desert. Wednesday and What do you want? Is a sort of fantastically odd walk-in experience.

'Three Studies from the Temeraire' by Cy Twombly who sadly recently passed away.

The rest of the gallery's permanent collection is also worth seeing, and covers contemporary art, Aboriginal and Asian art, and some photography. They also run free guided tours, which are well worth taking the time to do – check here for times.

Oh, and their café is really great, too.

The exhibition is part of the gallery's permanent collection on Lower Level 2 of the Art Gallery of NSW, located on Art Gallery Rd, The Domain.

2. Mick Rock

Mr Mick Jagger (and his lips).

The Blender Gallery is hidden just off Oxford Street in Paddington. For such a small place, it's a real treasure trove of great art and exhibitions. The latest is American photographer Mick Rock.

You might not have heard of Mick Rock, but chances are you've seen his work. For more than four decades he has been snapping the biggest names in music, with his images appearing on album covers and magazines all over the globe. He came to prominence in the 1970s with his iconic pictures of David Bowie (then Ziggy Stardust), Queen, The Stones, Iggy Pop, The Doors and pretty much any legendary muso you'd care to mention. He continues to document a lot of modern bands too.

For anyone who enjoys their music, this is a great chance to see your heroes up close and personal. Plus, the lovely young lady who works there is really friendly and they also sell a whole range of photography gear for budding snappers. Copies of Mick Rock's books are also on sale.

The exhibition has been extended until August 20. Blender is at 16 Elizabeth St, Paddington. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-6pm, Saturday from 10am-6pm.

3. Decade of The Rabbit

The White Rabbit is one of those places you wish you'd discovered earlier. It's tucked away in the backstreets of Chippendale in an unassuming pale brick building. But inside, it's anything but unremarkable.

He An's 'What Makes Me Understand What I Know'.

The gallery is home to a truly extraordinary collection of contemporary Chinese art and it's worth seeing if only because Chinese art is something you get to see so rarely. If you're thinking it doesn't really sound like your thing, don't be mistaken. This is not some old collection of parchments and Ming vases. As a showcase of young, unbelievably talented artists it is remarkable in its craftsmanship (Shi Jindian's Jeep chassis reconstructed entirely out of wire, for instance, is incredible) and a lot of it is also quite tongue-in-cheek and genuinely amusing.

The gallery's delightful tearoom is also worth a visit in its own right.

The White Rabbit is at 30 Balfour St, Chippendale. It is open Thursday-Sunday from 10am-6pm.

4. As The World Turns

Heather & Ivan Morison's 'The Opposite of All Those Things'.

As the World Turns is a showcase of eight emerging artists from London currently showing at the Anna Schwartz Gallery in Darlington. As discussed here, it's a good way of seeing what's been happening in art on the other side of the world. There's something for everyone here, with a bit of sculpture, painting and sound art on show.

It's located in the CarriageWorks building, just behind the Eveleigh Markets (held every Saturday morning), so it's well worth visiting if you're planning on stopping by this weekend.

As The World Turns: New Art From London is on show until August 20. The Anna Schwartz Gallery can be found at 245 Wilson St, Darlington. It is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 1pm-5pm.

5. World Press Photo 2011

Old Iron Market burns, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. By Riccardo Venturi.

Libraries have been on the decline for some time, but if ever you needed a reason to visit the State Library, this exhibit is it. It features nearly 200 of the world's best photos from the last year, spread across ten categories: portraits, arts & entertainment, sport, and so on.

As you'd expect, all of the photos on display are remarkable in some way, whether it's for the photographer's sheer good fortune of being in the right place at just the right time, or for bringing attention to a story that might otherwise have gone unreported.

Just word of warning, though: some of the images are quite confronting and you should probably be a little cautious if you're taking small children along.

Tied in with the exhibition is another photo show named Photos 1140 (so called for the number of minutes in a day), which features work from Sydney Morning Herald photographers from the past year. It's a fascinating insight into the way Australians live today.

The State Library is on Macquarie St in Sydney. Both of these exhibitions close on July 24, so be sure to visit this week.
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Why? Because they are fantastic and free
When: On now
Where: Around Sydney
Cost: Free
John Kaldor is just amazing and it's good to hear that it happens in Sydney. My next preference is Mick Jagger's Mick Rock. Thanks for the article!
By rozi25 - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 27th of July @ 10:16 am
Yes, the Kaldor show is such a great collection of work and Mick Rock has taken so many great pics. Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it :)
By Jake - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 27th of July @ 10:31 am
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