So here I am in Sydney, Australia, on a writing gig that even makes me jealous—and I’m here! Freelance writing—especially niche writing—can offer amazing perks and this is one of them. In one of my other incarnations, I am a medical writer, specializing in neurology. I’m here to cover the International Congress of the Movement Disorders Society, and of course, I had to take some time to see the city before I got down to work.
Before my arrival last week, my uninformed impression of this city was based mainly on movies like the absolutely hilarious The Gods Must Be Crazy, and the not quite so hilarious Crocodile Dundee. Oh, and I am a regular at the Outback Steakhouse (get your own link for this one, they don’t need me to advertise them).
So my initial impression was this would not be a city known for its arts culture, despite the imposing figure of the Opera House. Before disembarking the plane, my image was one of burly men in short sleeves and hats, talking about shrimp and beer. Okay, my impression may have been several miles below the solid ground of reality.
Not to sound juvenile, but…this city RULES!
Sydney is by far the most urbane place I have ever had the opportunity to visit, and given that I come originally from New York, and have lived in Boston, Los Angeles, and Munich Germany, that’s quite a statement. Sydney as we see it now was conceived in the last century, and designed largely as a playground of the mind, with nonstop entertainment. The views are spectacular from all angles at all times of the day, with each element drawing your attention to yet another feature of this harbor oasis. It is so visibly striking as to be a singular work of art, and yet there is much to see and appreciate from the traditional arts. Oh, and I should mention that you take boats everywhere. That, by itself, is enough to get me hooked.
During the time since I got here, some of the events included a visit by the Dalai Lama (sold out!), a touring performance of the show Cavalia, and the Sydney Film Festival. I took a day to visit some of the museums, which included the Australian Museum, the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Contemporary Museum of Art, and the National Opal Museum (which is not really a museum at all, but a shop that has a little exhibit). All were worth the time spent, and unlike our new disturbing habit in the US, the majority of the art museums are free.
The one museum that did charge a fee was the Australian Museum on College Street. It’s a bit out of the way (and when you don’t go by boat, you’ll probably walk), but well worth it. There is a standing exhibit of “Indiginous Australia” that shows you how well the Aboriginal natives express the connection to the environment.
But the best part of my arts explorations was stumbling upon the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Australian Museum. It is a stunning show of the skills of photographers ranging from the very young (under 10 years old category) to professionals known through National Geographic and other publications.
This unique exhibit not only captures specific and glorious moments in nature from around the planet, but it reflects the state-of-the-art of digital photography, without which, these images would not be possible. The winning photograph is of emperor penguins amidst a pool of bubbles they create to eject themselves from the water. Other truly gorgeous photos included a regal tiger by a reflecting pool, a lyrical close-up of a snow monkey sprinkled with water, and my personal favorite photo from above a giant green sea turtle swimming over black volcanic sand.
Copyright prevents my showing any of the photos here, but you can see a few of them from the museum website. The show is owned by the Natural History Museum and the BBC, which runs a blog on the exhibit as well. (The photo featured on the blog page is the winning entry.) And all of the winning photos can be seen at the various galleries here.
And if, like me, you find yourself near Sydney between now and the close of the show on October 7, 2013, you will do yourself a special favor to see this show in person—it will literally stun you into silence (at least for a moment or two). After October, the show tours other parts of Australia.
© Copyright 2013 – Arts Enclave.
All photos are the exclusive property of Linda Peckel.