Monday, 28 January 2013

Week 15 – Sydney arts festival, Australia

Fred's world tour
Week 15 – Sydney arts festival, Australia
5th until the 11th of January 2013
In brief:
  1. Do a 12km run with the local running club including a dip in Bronte beach.
  2. Attend a huge free outdoor Soul music concert featuring the great Sharon Jones.
  3. Walk the augmented reality trail through the national park of Middle head.
  4. Listen to the sounds of the unique Chronometer.
  5. See the huge five storey inflatable rubber duck in Darling Harbour.
  6. Take part in 'quiet volume' a Sydney festival production within the beautiful State library of New South Wales.
  7. Go to see an art exhibition … what a load of rubbish (literally)
  8. See a theatrical dance/breakdancing/parkour/skateboarding/BMX biking show!
  9. Have my second phone interview for a job.
  10. Meet up with my friend Chris and show him around Bondi
With a packed week last week what better way to relax than by waking up early, taking a bus to centennial park and joining the running club on their 12km run to Bronte beach! :-) It was challenging, especially the 6:40am wake up for a 7:30am start. The Bronte swim was perfect and the group was, once again, very cool to chat to. This week I got my bacon & egg roll before grabbing a bus back to Bondi. For this week before my friend Chris arrives from England I was tempted to fly to Melbourne and sightsee. However, I then came to learn that the Sydney arts festival starts this week. This month long festival brings, artists, performers, shows and exhibitions to Sydney. It has a variety of weird and wonderful things to go see enough to suit any palate. I spent a fair bit of time researching and reserving tickets for various events as they were all going quickly. My first taste of Sydney festival was the free outdoor Soul music concert happening at the Domain park near Mrs Macquarie's point (where I went for the fireworks). The line up of artists was good and the atmosphere was great. The headline act was the famous Sharon Jones who gave an awesome vocal performance. The evening was truly soulful.
This concert finished at 11pm and as it was a Saturday night I went to check out the Sydney night-life. I got chatting to a few people and the night flew by. We ended up in a club which brags to have Sydney's best light and sound system. Judging by the fun I had and the great music the DJ was playing, I would find it hard to dispute that claim. Sunday proved to be a gorgeous day, so I did some job applications and headed out to Circular quay. Circular quay is nestled between the Opera house and the Sydney harbour bridge. I met up with my friend Mark and we grabbed a ferry across the harbour. Its a great way to see the Sydney harbour, the bridge and the opera house. Once across the harbour we were only a short bus and a walk from the Middle head national park reserve. This is where 'Notes for walking' was happening. The Sydney festival website described it was a 'pilgrimage, magical mystery tour and adventure trek rolled into one'. The aim is to use location based augmented reality software to navigate around middle head reserve and find a set of short video notes. Basically with a special app you could point your phone's camera to an area and the digital GPS tagged content would be displayed on the terrain for you to click on. These interactive components would then play a short video on your phone filmed where we were standing and with some poetry.
We struggled to find all the markers but after sorting out the glitches off we went exploring the ruins of the old naval fortresses and the rest of this beautiful reserve. This was my first taste of an augmented reality tour and I wouldn't be against doing another one.
From there we walked west along the coast to Georges Heights Lookout where we could observe the huge cruise liner exit the harbour and from where one could listen to the electronic work Chronometer by British composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle. This was recorded in 1971 and is a piece of audio played out of speakers tied to trees, railings and bushes on a loop. You could sit on bean bags and admire the spectacular view while listening to the 'unique sounds'. I say unique because it is comprises of percussive sample recordings of Big Ben and Wells Cathedral clock!

From there we caught the last ferry back to circular quay and it was perfect as the sun started to set. Then next on Mark's and my agenda was to go see a rubber duck in water. Not just any rubber duck. This rubber duck is floating in Darling Harbour and is five storeys high and five storeys wide. It is the work of Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands. Sydney festival describes it as 'Surprising, whimsical and a whole lot of fun for no apparent reason'. Again that's pretty accurate!
For dinner I went to join Tony, Daithi, Brendon and Darrel as well as some other of their friends at an Indian restaurant in Kings Cross which was nice. When I think of Kings Cross I think of the London train station but in Sydney it is a big party area with bars, restaurants and clubs to cater for everyone. It is also the home of the huge, and apparently famous Coca Cola sign.
Over the next few days before Chris arrived on Thursday I spent time relaxing, going for some runs, doing some more shopping for expedition gear and first aid kit purchases for Borneo. I also went to see some Sydney festival stuff. Monday is when I went down to the State Library of New South Wales. The oldest one in the state that was the home of Sydney Festival's 'Quiet Volume'. The bio of the event says 'The Quiet volume is a whispered, automatic performance for two people at at time. Given headphones, participants are asked to follow instructions as they sit at a table with a stack of books and a notepad. Sitting side-by-side and immersed in the written word, they respond to the private rituals and space around them. Suddenly, the conjuring magic of language and the quietest sound can become vivid and mind-blowing, even deafening. Best of all, the librarian will never know.'
Not really expecting much I was pleasantly surprised by the sounds, the instructions given, the interaction with the unknown person taking part next to you and the frantic flicking of pages. I left thinking I should pick up a book and get immersed in a fictional story although I doubt it could surpass this audio-visual treat I just experienced. From there I popped my head into the gallery upstairs before heading home.
Tuesday's treat was on Sydney's hottest day so far, but that didn't stop me from getting to the 'Waste not' exhibition by artist Song Dong at Carriageworks. This exhibition represents the process of mourning and remembrance of the artist's mother following her husband's (his father's) death. It is basically is a collection of rubbish collected by his mother over the years following her husbands death. The collection includes shoes of all sizes, plastic bags, empty toothpastes, empty bottles, tools and so much more. It was a combination of China's 'waste not' mentality and the mother trying to fill the void. The artist then took all the possessions and he now regularly puts them on display in galleries all over the world as a travelling expo! Weird and fascinating at the same time.
For Wednesday, Mark and I got tickets to the 'Concrete and bone' show at Dulwich hill skate park. The description lists it as 'an exiting confrontation between bodies and wheels set among the concrete, cracks, curves and graffiti of a skate park'. It was my favourite event so far encompassing and impressive mix of theatrical dance, amazing breakdancing, crazy parkour with a mind blowing display of skateboarding and BMX biking! We managed to get front row seats at the edge of a half pipe where several times during the show a BMX bike would be catapulted 6 foot in the air right in front of us! Very cool.
On Thursday the 10th my friend Chris arrived from England and on the Friday he was keen to explore Bondi beach and the surroundings. We did just that right after my phone interview with the heads of the emergency department at Canberra hospital. I think it went well and it ended with 'I think you will fit right in here'. Sounds promising... I'll keep you posted.
That ends week 15. For my 16th week I show Chris around Sydney, go see London's West End Dance spectacular 'Blaze' at the Sydney Opera house and fly up to Queensland for some camping at the Whitsunday islands. Take care and as always let me know if you like the blog or you have any questions by using the comment box bellow.
That's all for now, until next time.

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