Sydney Diaries: Battle of the Galleries Part 1

So with Karen settling in nicely to her ‘return to the workplace’ and John spending a few tough weeks engaging with recruitment agents (or ‘Lemons’ as one of pal refers to them) it was time for him to take a Friday off of the job hunt and check out some of the galleries in Sydney.

The two (main) Art Galleries in central Sydney are the Art Gallery of New South Wales, located in the Domain, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay. The great thing about them is that they have a FREE Admission policy which is a credit to them and the Australian Government for facilitating.

Which one would come out on top? Let’s find out…

Art Gallery of New South Wales

To be honest this was not our first visit here. We had decided to go to one of the After Hours evenings that are hosted in the Gallery so it will be judged over two visits.

The first contrast with the MCA is the building itself. This amazing piece of architecture, whose facade is similar in design to the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, has been almost as much a labour as the collection of all its art works with major extensions being built and finished right up to the present day. In fact half of the Museum was closed off due to renovation works during this visit. But the finished facade to the building was amazing and littered with the kind of classical statues and friezes you would expect from museums in Europe.

On entering the foyer you are greeted by a sculpture of what looks like something my youngest brother created in Minecraft

Homo Digitalus!

Homo Digitalus!

What we could see were an exciting collection of Indigenous and European Art

In the European Drawings section was this particular piece which deserves a mention:

A displaced Bugatti (did this follow us from York?)

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Australian artist Daniel Boyd also has a piece on display here:

Daniel Boyd’s work reinterprets Aboriginal and Australian-European history and often re-appropriates classical portraits featuring colonial icons such as Captain Cook, Governor Phillip and King George III. He adorns the ‘heroes’ of empire with eye patches, parrots and necklaces of skulls, to suggest their true status as pirates. Boyd interrogates official history in order to create a dialogue between opposing ideas and cultures.

Daniel Boyd’s work reinterprets Aboriginal and Australian-European history and often re-appropriates classical portraits featuring colonial icons such as Captain Cook, Governor Phillip and King George III. He adorns the ‘heroes’ of empire with eye patches, parrots and necklaces of skulls, to suggest their true status as pirates. Boyd interrogates official history in order to create a dialogue between opposing ideas and cultures.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Having walked past this building on numerous occasions it was time to take the plunge and enter.

Contemporary Art in a Art Deco Building it has been the main centre for the display of interpretive and contemporary art in Sydney since 1991 thanks to a generous bequest from expatriate artist John Power to the University of Sydney.

When you enter the museum there is a small gallery to the right side containing some psychedelic Aboriginal art.

Some of the works I would like to highlight are:

Juan Davila’s Sentimental History of Australian Art

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Another fabulous piece from Daniel Boyd

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Stephen Birch’s Untitled (because Fever Dream Machinations would have sounded weird!)

Man vs Spiderman

Man vs Spiderman

And finally a few pieces inspired by or inspiring of Tim Burton!

The Results:

This is a close one. I think based on the amount of art on show the MCA edged it. The only way to make sure is to have another look with my fellow art-loving critic Portia Wilson when she visits us in a few weeks!

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