Around Sydney at the moment there are a number of exhibitions on that are taking a piece of Sydney’s history as their inspiration.  These are not the usual historic photos or artefacts that museums often display (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but are the works of independent Sydney artists re-imagining Sydney’s past.

If you are out west or heading that way, Blacktown Arts Centre has It’s Timely, taking its lead from the 40th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s 1974 Back to Blacktown re-election speech.  Whitlam had given his famous It’s Time speech at Blacktown during his 1972 election campaign, and in 1974, after a double dissolution of Parliament he returned to Blacktown Civic Centre.  ‘Men and Women of Australia’ he began, and so went on to be re-elected.  While his Government didn’t last long it did bring in some sweeping reforms, many which remain, albeit under threat.  Free University education was one, Medicare another, and for Fbi listeners, FM radio.

The exhibition shows the work of 8 local and international artists using Whitlam’s legacy and Blacktown’s community as their inspiration.  A mix of photographs, multimedia, film and sculpture explore the theme.  The exhibition runs through until 28 June.

Gough speaks at Blacktown Civic Centre in 1972-It's Time
Gough speaks at Blacktown Civic Centre in 1972-It’s Time

At Central Park on Broadway, the newish 10 X 8 Gallery on the former site of the Kent Brewery has a photographic exhibition based on the work life of Jack Rutledge, a former cooper at the brewery.  The Kent Brewery was the last of the big breweries to close in Sydney, having operated on the site for over 160 years.  In the past 10 years of redevelopment the site has been transformed, to such an extent that some don’t even know a brewery was there.  In Jack of all Trades, photographer Laura Grace’s work explores the working life of one man on the site and tells the broader story of the brewery through him.

In Wilson Street Newtown the small A-M Gallery has the work of photographer Kurt Sorensen on display.  Kurt takes unusual and haunting stories from Sydney’s history, and returning to the scene, explores the lingering sense of the events.  His current exhibition explores the disappearance of David and Emily Joel in the Blue Mountains in 1918.  Emily’s last words, “I get some terrible frights here” inspire the show.

Lastly, and for one day only, Sydney Town Hall is open tomorrow (Saturday 3 May).  The open day is a chance to see some of the back of house areas of the 140 year old Town Hall.  Historians and curators are giving talks and running mystery tours of the building.  If you have any memories or memorabilia of the being at the Town Hall you can bring it in and be part of the wider story of the Town Hall’s history and significance in Sydney.

No doubt there are more on then the few I have mentioned here.  Get out and amongst it.

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