My picks for this week

July 28 to 1 August

Casula Powerhouse : Vivienne Binns + Hossein Valamanesh
A new exhibition of works by Australian contemporary artists Vivienne Binns and Hossein Valamanesh. There is an incredibly diverse range of works from each artist highlighting the differences between each of them and their respective styles – and many of these works have not been shown before in Sydney. Free
When and where: On now till September 7 Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula

Archibald Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2014
The annual exhibition of the winners and finalists in these three art blockbuster awards is on at the Art Gallery of NSW. The Archibald Prize, first started in 1921, is an award for the best portrait painting. The Wynne Prize is for the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figurative sculpture and the Sulman Prize is for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media. This years Archibald winner is Fiona Lawrie for her portrait of architect Penelope Seidler. Painted by airbrush, it is a stand out with its arresting ghostly grey and ethereal tones. Rodney Pople’s portrait of Barry Humprhies (Well dressed for a Sydney audience), comedian turned cracker of an artist Ahn Do, with his portrait of his father and Joanna Brathiwaite’s portrait of Colleen McCullough (Bright Spark). As usual a range of celebrity type sitters to allow everyone to have an opinion on what did or should have won! In the Art After Hours program on Wednesday nights, this coming Wednesday former High Court Judge Michael Kirby will talk on what it takes to be a good sitter for a portrait.
When and where: On now till 28 September, Art Gallery of NSW. Talk on 30 July at 6.30pm. Art After hours starts at 5.30pm

Mosman Art Prize
The annual art explosion in Sydney at this time of the year. Mosman Art Gallery hosts the Mosman art prize with past winners including Jenny Sages, Kerrie Lester, Guan Wei, Grace Cossington Smith. $30,000 is up for grabs in this competition which often sees a fantastic range of talent and forms the basis of the Mosman Art gallery collection. The 2014 judge is Felicity Fenner (Senior Lecturer and Chief Curator of National Institute of Experimental Art) UNSW Galleries COFA.
When and where: On now to 7 September Mosman Art Gallery, Mosman

Also on at Mosman Art Gallery is an exhibition of the works of artist Josefia Lemon which focuses on the views of Middle Harbour between Mosman and Cremorne. These watercolours and oils are stunning and there is an emphasis on the light as it hits the Harbour waters. Free admission
When and where: On now to 12 October. Mosman Art Gallery Myaghah Way Mosman

Kate Scardifield: Locating the Pulse
A new sculptural installation and soundscape has been created by artist Kate Scardifield in collaboration with audio engineer Liam Bray. Located in the Cube, in the gallery, you can hear the sounds of hands clapping with a definite beat but then that disappears and changes to reform. Free
When and where: On now, Mosman Art Gallery

Salon des Refuses
If you are catching the Archibalds at the AGNSW, make it a daily double and head to the S H Ervin Gallery to see the ones that were rejected. On Monday 28 July at 10am there will be a guided tour with coffee ($20) of the works that just didn’t make the cut at the AGNSW this year.
When and where: Exhibition on now and tour on Monday July 28 10am. S H Ervin Gallery Watson Road The Rocks

Stella Downer Fine Art : Gallery Artists
The well known Danks Street Waterloo Gallery has an exhibition on now featuring paintings, works on paper and sculpture – all from its gallery artists who include Tanya Chaitow, Janet Dawson, Merran Esson, David Fairbairn, Rachel Fairfax, Ashley Frost and Mary Macqueen. A diverse range of artists and styles – from naive style works, rural landscapes, portraits, views of the South Coast, ceramic sculptures and works on paper Free entry
When and where: On now till 16 August . Stella Downer Art Gallery. 2 Danks Street Waterloo

Moving House
After a successful showing in Gosford, Peter and Susan O’Doherty’s works are featured at the BLue Mountains Cultural centre and explore what it is like to move house and feel displaced, leaving things behind. Mixed media assemblages and paintings.

When and where: Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Katoomba on now to 24 August. Weekdays 10- 5pm and weekends 10-4pm

A new Australian opera by Michael Smetatin and Alison Croggon is on from Monday 28 July at Carriageworks. From Sydney Chamber Opera,this is the story of Stalin’s favourite poet, a Russian revolutionary writer Vladimir Mayakovsky.Starring Simon Lobelson in the title role, directed by Kat Henry with production design by Hanna Sandgren. A new opera by a living composer! Tickets $35 Carriageworks

The making of Midnight Oil
Manly Art Gallery has a new exhibition delving into the formation of one of Australia’s iconic rock bands Midnight Oil. You can see the collection of stage props, instruments, original lyric music, memorabilia, posters and photos both from the band’s own collections and other private donors. There is also unseen film and audio and 25 years of the photos of the bands performers. An apt gallery to feature the works – as Midnight Oil had a huge and early following in the pubs and venues on the northern beaches. Free admission
When and where: On now till 7 September Manly Art Gallery and Museum West Esplanade Tuesday to Sunday 10-5

Verdi’s opera of the Shakespearean tragedy about the heavy consequences of jealousy taken too far, is performed by Opera Australia in the remount of the 2003 production. Conducted by Christian Badea, this production stars Simon O’Neill as Otello and Lianna Haroutounian and Natalie Aroyan sharing the role of Desdemona with Claudo Sgura as Iago, James Egglestone as Cassio and Jacqueline Dark as Emilia. At the time this opera was first performed, Europe was in a grip of Wagner fever – so it took a dramatic story with a spectacular score to grab the opera audiences attention and ensure the survival of Italian opera. The story opens with a stormy night where Otello thunders into the crowd gathered to tell of his victory over the Turks and is clearly in love with his wife Desdemona. Otello’s servant Iago detests his boss and is furious that courtier Cassio has been promoted instead of him. He causes Cassio to fight with Venetian gentleman Rodrigo (who is in love with Desdemona). The fight causes Otello to dismiss Cassio. Iago decides to make further mischief and encourages Cassio to try to get his job back through Desdemona’s entreaties to Otello. Meanwhile Iago persuades Otello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Otello falls for the stories and decides to kill Desdemona… Act IV reveals all! The set by Hans Schavernoch is arresting as it is entirely lop sided – a set of slanted veering stairs which show that things are out of balance and are simply not straight in this court.The tenor /baritone duet at the end of Act II between Otello and Iago is a highlight as are the two arias sung by Desdemona, the Willow Song and Ave Maria.
When and where: On 29 July at 7.30pm and August 2 (matinee). Opera House

A Piece of Cake Club
Brenda May Gallery hosts an exhibition of illustrations from “The Book of Cake” which was produced by the advertising agency The Hallway to record the cakes that were baked and shared by staff each Monday afternoon in a regular Cake Club which started as just a fun and tongue in cheek gathering. But these were no ordinary cakes, these were creations that had to link to the life or work of 1960′s french filmmaker Jacques Tati. The book has recipes and illustrations as well as the reasons for the linkages to Tati (obscure as they may be!). Curated by art historian Akky van Ogtrop. Free
When and where: On now till 9 August Brenda May Gallery Danks Street Waterloo

Celestial City
A fascinating look into the history of the Chinese in Australia. From the arrival of the Chinese in Australia during the Gold rush to the deportation of the Chinese boat people arriving in Sydney Harbour in 1888 and right through to well known members of the Australian Chinese community, this exhibition is rich in detail and personal stories. The contribution by the Chinese to the development of market gardens and the supply of fresh vegetables to capital cities is documented in photographs and memoirs. Little known stories such as the 1878 riot at Ah Toy’s workshop on George Street Sydney where 2000 young men attacked Chinese residents with blazing torches in an terrible act of racial warfare. The exhibition also focuses on the specific contributions of Chinese merchants such as Quong Tart, who ran a successful team room which became a hub for suffragettes and progressive thinkers.
When and where: Exhibition on now till 12 October. Museum of Sydney Cnr Phillip and Bridge Street Sydney.

Royal Art Society Ballot Exhibition
Marking the 61st year of this Ballot, come along to this exhibition and buy a ticket for $350 which gets you a guaranteed painting in the Ballot, drawn on 3 August. Artists of the Society have donated paintings and these all go into the Ballot which is drawn one ticket at a time and each ticket holder must nominate their favourite painting. There are more paintings than there are tickets so you get a choice! Viewing on now.
When and where: On now Mon to Friday 10- 4pm. Weekends 11 to 4pm. Last viewing Sat 2 August and Ballot drawn on 3 August at noon. 25- 27 Walker Street North Sydney

Theatre of dreams, Theatre of play
The Japanese noh and kyogen theatre tradition is one of the worlds oldest theatre forms and masks, costumes, paintings, musical instruments and songbooks from this theatre form have been brought to the Art Gallery of NSW as part of this new exhibition. An intricate set of rules govern who wears the robes, trousers, sashes and headbands which identify the characters in this expressive theatrical exhibition. Tickets $10 /$8 /$7
When and where: On now till Sept 14. Art Gallery of NSW

A Doll’s House
Sport for Jove (well known for their marvellous Shakespearean triumphs) present an adaptation by playwright Adam Cook (also directing) of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century play A Dolls House. Starring Matilda Ridgeway as Nora, Doug Hansell, Barry French, Francesca Savige, Annie Byron and Anthony Gooley. Tickets $36 /$25. 2 hours and 40 minutes including interval
When and where: On now till 2 August Wed to Sat 7.30pm, matinees Saturday at 2pm. Seymour Centre Chippendale

Ugly Mugs
Peta Brady’s controversial and provocative play takes its name from the phrase used by sex workers to describe aggressive clients. The play explores violence against women in Australian culture. Stars Peta Brady, Steve Le Marquand, Sara West and Harry Borland. Directed by Marion Potts (Malthouse). Tickets 9361 3817
When and where: On now till 23 August Saturday 2pm and evenings 7pm. Stables Theatre 10 Nimrod Street Kings Cross

Colour + Light: Penrith Regional Gallery
This exhibition is a series of works using colour in a scientific and focussed way – and together with the art are science models that show the qualities of visible light. Works by Margo Lewers in this exhibition are from plexiglass. Artist Paula Garrad’s works featuring colour are abstract paintings. Al Munro colourful sculptures of crystallography and Adam Jones colour charts are fabulous additions.

When and where: On now till 24 August Penrith Regional Gallery, Penrith

Art of the New Guinea Highlands : Plumes and pearl shells
From the collection of Sydney collector Stanley Moriarty, this exhibition features nearly 90 works of art which include sculpture, ritual objects, dance masks and weaponry, made from natural materials from the local environment. Look for the traces of the shiny pearl shells in the art works and the plumes of birds from the PNG highlands including the Bird of Paradise – all of which are spectacular features of the art. Jewellery and headdresses in this collection were often worn in cultural festivals. Free.

When and where: On now till 10 August Art Gallery of NSW, The Domain

World Press Photo exhibition + Sydney Morning Herald Photos 1440

Some incredible photojournalism from 2012, including Australian photographers, images which are arresting, moving, traumatising and uplifting. Together the work from Sydney Morning Herald photographers since 2012 to now. Free

When and where: On now daily State Library Macquarie Street, City

Aiko Goto & Satsuki Odamura : Delmar Gallery
An extraordinary performance by violinist Aiko Goto and koto master Satsuki Odamura on at the Delmar Gallery as part of the Society of the Arts program for 2014. Western and Easstern classical music is on the pogram including Bach’s solo Sonata for Violin No 2 in A minor, Sawai’s Dosei and a Linsey Pollack’s Pretang and Tang.

When and where: 28 July 7.30pm Delmar Gallery 144 Victoria Street Ashfield

Life Interrupted : Personal Diaries from WW1
Since 1918 the State Library (through the then principal librarian William Ifould) has collected the personal diaries of men and women that served in WW1 for Australia. These people were ordinary citizens who experienced great sadness, moments of bravery and also grey loss. Their first hand accounts of the war and the impact on every day lives bring the horror of the Great War very much alive. Some of the diaries cover the first battle in New Guinea by Australian soldiers, the naval battle between the HMAS Sydney and the German ship Emden. There are accounts from Gallipolli, Fromelles and Pozieres as well as the Middle East Campaign. It is not only the horror of war that is written about but also the lighter side- the souvenirs and trickiest picked up along the way, the countryside and the food. Together with the diaries are images by professional photographer Frank Hurley and amateur photographers using vest pocket cameras. Free exhibition

When and where: On now daily from 9am. State Library Macquarie Street

STC’s latest offering is Shakespeare’s tragedy of ambition and ruthlessness and stars Hugo Weaving in the title role. The cast includes John Gaden, Melita Jurisic, Kate Box, Paula Arundell, Robert Menzies Directed by Kip Williams with design by Alice Babidge. The audience are seated on the stage and the drama occurs in the auditorium! Tickets $50- $109. Bookings 9250 1777

When and where: On now till 27 September Sydney Theatre Company, Walsh Bay

Bell Shakespeare presents Moliere’s play about a wealthy husband and father willingly deceived by a religious conman. Directed by Peter Evans, this stars Kate Mulvaney, Sean O’Shea, Leon Ford, Helen Dallimore and Charlie Garber. 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets $35- $79 Bell Shakespeare

When and where: On now to 23 August Drama Theatre Opera House

The City of Forking Paths
This is a magical twilight walk listening to an audio narration accompany a film on a smartphone of the area that you walk from Customs House to the Quay and then to The Rocks. As a local, re-discover your own city and the amazing buildings and stories that have that built the city especially in The Rocks area. As a foreigner or from other parts of Australia, delight in this guided tour of a special part of Sydney. A specially commissioned artwork for the Biennale, Canadian artist Janet Cardiff together with George Bures Miller came to Sydney last year and spent several months in The Rocks, living and experiencing the area. They set about making a film (at night) which immerses you in your surroundings and introduces a soundscape, music and noise that accompany you on a delightful journey. So while watching the film and listening to the narrative which includes fictitious scenarios and confusing sounds, you are directed on this walk wending your way through laneways and streets, pausing to look at places you may normally just rush past and not notice. You take this walk on your own leaving space in between the next person to allow a gap to experience it yourself – indulging in an hour of aloneness and art. This film makes Sydney look like part of a noir film – moody and edgy but fascinating and historic. Given the proposed changes to The Rocks, this may soon be a historic record of the area. This audio video walk is a permanent gift to the city and is downloadable onto your smartphone or you can borrow a phone (leaving your credit card and photo id at Customs House). Suitable also for kids but from age 8 and above. Flat shoes recommended as it takes just over an hour – and then you need to walk back from the Rocks to Customs House to return the smartphone. Free! and on forever! or as long as technology will allow.

When and where: On now (and forever!) after sunset. Customs House Circular Quay.

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