A Puppet Show for George Street

Wednesday night, Yuendemu at Gleebooks. Last night Java on George Street. Or close enough to justify the alliteration.

It’s Art and About time in Sydney, and among other things our civic sculptures are dressed for the occasion. Here’s Queen Victoria near the QVB, taken on my iPhone and then manipulated out of almost total blackness on iPhoto. She’s wearing a bright red quilted skirt, a white fuzzy bonnet, and, among other things, a huge cameo brooch with a dog on it slung round her neck.

Queen Victoria

Around the corner from the Queen, a number of exhibitions opened in the artist-run Gaffa Gallery last night. The one that had drawn us, and turned out to be the most interesting, was a solo exhibition by our young friend and neighbour Jesse Cox. (All but one of the others were photographic shows, with a lot of photoshopping, and about equal amounts of restrained elegance and garishly exuberant montage.)

Jesse’s exhibition, A Puppet Show for George Street, is two rooms full of shadow puppets made from used oil drums scavenged from nearby restaurants. There are bicyclists, figures carrying briefcases, umbrellas, mobile phones, walking dogs, riding skateboards, wheeling shopping trolleys – two-dimensional figures cut from old tin with rivets at the joints. There’s some appealing verbal wit – the fat man walking a dog has ‘Cholesterol” printed all over him; one of the kissing lovers has a Heart Foundation tick on his chest. But the main charm is the way it refers to Javan Wayang Kulit.

As someone said, as we watched the video loop of the puppets in action, we half expected that at any moment a dragon would appear.

The other non-photographic exhibition is ‘PARK/PARK‘, a record of an event on Park(ing) Day earlier this year. According to the Park(ing) Day web site, it is ‘an annual, worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good’. This particular transformation involved a cardboard cut-out car and similar tree – the artists sat in the car until the meter expired, sipping tea.

All four exhibitions are open until 5 October. Art and About is all over town until 24 October.

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