The First Day Down Under
The first day in Australia I got a bit of a late start but, luckily for me things in Australia stay open a bit later than their NZ counterparts. For example most business, with the exception of restaurants and bars, close around 5pm in NZ. Public buildings such as museums, galleries and parks close around 4. In Australia this is pushed back almost an hour with some things staying open even later. Luckily for me the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of those buildings that stays open till 5.
The Gallery of NSW is located just a short walk from kings cross and Victoria street which is right in the area with the majority of hostiles and hotels. If you plan to go to Australia I would definitely recommend you stay off Kings Cross, but around it. Victoria street is fine but “The Cross” as they call it is loud and exciting during the night, which is fine to visit, but not a place you want to sleep. Think of it like the strip of Vagus except without soundproof walls in your accommodation. The Cross can get so wild that the locals actually have a saying that again draws parallels with the US’s sin city : “What happens in the Cross stays in the Cross”. It wasn’t my type of scene, especially being a lone back packer, but if you have a buddy and want to go out I would definitely recommend stopping at the pubs. I don’t, however, want to give the impression that Kings Cross is unsafe. I walked along the street at night alone and never felt endangered in any way, just annoyed at all the drunks and ladies of the evening roaming the streets and slowing down my trip back to my hotel. Yes, you read that right. Prostitution is legal in both NZ and AU and if you go down town you will see the signs for “massage” parlors and gentleman’s clubs that provide these services.
Having said all of that, the walk to the NSW Art Gallery is only about 15 mins and it is definitely worth a visit. The majority of the galleries are free to view with the exception of a small portion of the museum that one must pay to view. The Gallery is beautiful both inside and out. The outside is adorned with columns and statues of Greco Roman Gods and Goddesses. On the inside you will find sculptures, paintings, drawings, films, photos, audio exhibits and a whole range of exhibits both modern and traditional. One of my favorites was the exhibit of Art created entirely from refuse material extracted from the worlds oceans. Essentially the idea is turning trash into art in various ways. One of these takes paper shopping bags from global corporations like star bucks and Gucci and turns them into dioramas of trees. This creates a sense of irony in turning the paper bags created from trees by corporations into art depicting trees to be enjoyed by people. The other exhibit that particularly impressed itself upon me was created by an artist who collected the personal stories of European immigrants and created constellations out of the routs they took from their birthplaces to where they migrated to. You can view the constellations as stand alone works, or you can watch video of them being created while listening to the persons telling the stories their particular constellations represents. Both of these examples of modern art truly impressed themselves upon my psyche and not only cemented their place in my mind as ‘favorites’ of the NSW Art Gallery but also as some of the best art exhibits I have ever seen.