Friday, 14 September 2012


A friend and I (our two babes in tow) went on a trip to Cockatoo Island the other day to see part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney. Exhibited in 5 different spaces/locations around the city, the Cockatoo Island site showcases collaborative and interactive works which focus on the senses and their relationship with water, wind and earth. The Island has a rich history having originally been a fishing site for the Eora Aboriginal people of Sydney and later a convict prison and shipyard for the Royal Navy. And while you are there you can't help but notice all these historical elements. You are surrounded by industrial yards, disused buildings and  federation houses not to mention magnificent Sydney Harbour (I say that not just because I am proud of our harbour, but because gee wiz! on a sunny day she really does sparkle). My friend commented on how funny it would be to go back in time and tell one of the convicts working at the site that it would later become a tourist attraction, festival space and camping ground. They wouldn't believe you! 

Anyway... end of history lesson. Phew. Now to the art.

I had a confession to make to my dear friend. I didn't wait until our scheduled art date to check out what was on the island.  I went a couple of days earlier with D's mum and J for a little day trip which turned out to be a little disaster. J wasn't truckin' with "You have to sit in the pram bubba, it's too dangerous to run around" and somehow we managed to go the wrong way around the island and find all the rooms that were impossible with a whingey toddler in a pram. But I am glad I made the trip, as this time around I knew exactly where to go first. J was in a better mood and happy that his friend was in a similar "you have to stay in the pram" boat. Turns out, art and toddlers do mix, if the art is interactive and there are no crowds and waiting lines.  They both had a ball.

This was pretty impressive. Large and small chains upon chains all carved out of polystyrene, weaving and interlocking around the architecture and disused industrial machines of the site.

This is a collaborative work featuring hand written personal wishes for the future by participants in Egypt and London. The 'wishing structures' were constructed in Cairo and shipped over for the Biennale. The work also features handmade and decorated tents and video interviews on life in Egypt since January 2011. I think this wish is a good one.

This had to be one of my favourite works and it was a complete surprise that we found it. We were walking around the island, trying to get our babes to nap in their prams and we came across this very small room, without a roof at the edge of the island. As we ducked our heads and walked inside we were greeted by the beautiful gentle tones of hundred of hanging bamboo wind-chimes. Against the bright blue sky and industrial buildings, this room just had me mesmerised. Check out the awesome shadow pattern! I could have stayed there all day.  

As part of Tiffany's work, people were encouraged to take the wind-chimes home, decorate and return them  to form a collaborative work. These are some that were brought back to the island. 

I have more photos and works to tell you about but thought that it might be too intense to do it in one blog post. So... check back later for part II.

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