Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery of NSWMany of these posts wait until there is a special temporary exhibition at museums and art galleries to promote/mention them, which can inadvertently place the regular exhibits as ‘second prize’. Not so. Most galleries have so much to offer every day of the year and none more so than the Art Gallery of NSW.

I have an affectionate spot for the collection of Australian paintings at the Art Gallery of NSW. When I was at school there was a print on the wall of my French classroom that I loved. It was a smaller version of an Elioth Gruner painting called Spring frost (right). I didn’t know the artist or the title of the painting until I visited the gallery and saw the original – it was magnificent – the frost almost crackled and you could somehow smell the morning. This won Gruner the Wynne Prize in 1919, one of seven he won for his landscapes.

Art Gallery of NSWFrom being a fan of one painting, I became a fan of the collection… paintings by Frederick McCubbin, Conrad Martins, Sydney Long, Hans Heysen, Arthur Boyd, Charles Condor, Sydney Nolan, Fred Williams, Lloyd Rees, Russell Drysdale, William Dobell, Brett Whitely and many more. Two other particular paintings that seduce me every visit for the detail and the brushwork are The golden fleece by Tom Roberts (header image) and Fire’s on by Arthur Streeton (right). Here is a link to the Australian artworks in the collection. And, of course, the annual Archibald Prize, Wynne Prize and Sulman Prize exhibition is another reason to visit.

There is another landscape that is worth sitting a while to enjoy, and that’s the real view through the large gallery window of Sydney Harbour beyond the Botanic Gardens. In short, it is a terrific gallery and well worth more than just one visit. If you are a visitor to Sydney, the Art Gallery of NSW is highly recommended and Rydges can look after all your accommodation needs in the CBD at Rydges Sydney Central or Rydges World Square and just over the Harbour Bridge at Rydges North Sydney.

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Alex Prager at the NGV International

You can see this exhibition of Alex Prager at the NGV International (180 St Kilda Road – Level 3, Contemporary Art & Design) until April 19. Entry is free.

Alex Prager is an American photographer and film maker who lives and works in Los Angeles. In her elaborately conceived staged photographs, Prager openly references the aesthetics of mid-twentieth century American cinema and photography. Each of her lush colour images resembles a film still – entirely constructed and packed with emotion and human melodrama.

Alex Prager at the NGV InternationalIn her film work she extends on her photographic practice, moving from the directorial mode in photography to directing an elaborately constructed film. Both aspects of her practice pair the banal and fantastic, the everyday and the theatrical, real life and cinematic representation in lush, richly coloured tableaux .

While in Melbourne installing her exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Alex took some time out to speak about how she first became interested in photography, the natural transition into filmmaking, her love of and fascination with her hometown of Los Angeles, and her continued passion for constructing human melodramas. Click here and scroll down to read the free ebook that features this interview in addition to a curatorial essay, biography and multimedia elements including images and video.

For all your accommodation needs in Melbourne you can stay at Rydges Melbourne in the CBD, Rydges on Swanston on the city fringe and at the new Rydges St Kilda.

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Mariko Mori: Rebirth

Mariko Mori: Rebirth is one of the current exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, running until June 29. Other exhibitions include Treasures of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice (until March 16) and the ongoing exhibitions, Your Collection 1800 – Today and William Kentridge Shadow Quartet.

Mariko Mori: RebirthTokyo-born, New York and London-based Mariko Mori is one of the most important artists of our time. Through an exploration of themes, such as life, death and rebirth, her work resonates with audiences around the world.

Rebirth is an immersive, contemplative experience composed of installations, glowing LED sculptures, photographs, drawings and videos. It is quiet, beautiful, thoughtful and absorbing.

Emanating positivity and generating wonder, Rebirth celebrates our existing balance with nature and gently places the visitor between the earth and the wider cosmos.

Mariko Mori first made an impact on the international art scene in the early-mid 1990s. Her perfectly-formed and powerfully ambitious sculptural and photographic work of that period was an immediately accessible reflection on the ways our identities were being shaped by various technologies and the philosophies driving them.

Over the last decade, Mori’s practice has gradually shifted in focus. Moving away from the urban realm, she has started exploring the connections between the human and other worlds in increasingly universal ways. Rebirth is her first solo show in Australia.

If you are visiting Perth or business or leisure, Rydges Perth can look after all your accommodation needs.

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Mariko Mori photograph by David Sims

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The Shire Amazing Race

The Shire Amazing Race is going to be a lot of fun with a day full of surprises, prizes, twists, turns and entertainment. Based on the TV show with clues and challenges, it is on Saturday, March 21 and you can register online here. Once you register you will be sent more information and, on the big day, the schedule is…

Arrive at 8:00am at Gunnamatta Pavilion to collect your race pack and at 8:45 get the race briefing with race start at 9:00am. You and your team mate will receive the clue sheet and then it is time to choose your race strategy – do you take time to pre-plan the route to what you think will get you through quickest – or just do the old ‘bull-at-a-gate’ and tackle the clues as they pop up? There could be some turtle & hare, brains versus brawn tactics needed!

The Shire Amazing RaceThe race finishes at 3:00pm and you have to cross the line before that time to be eligible for prizes. While the results are worked out there’s heaps to keep you amused – music, sausage sizzle, drinks, massages and even more challenges if you are up for more fun. At 4:00pm, results will be announced and prizes awarded. Prizes will be given for the most number of points scored in the least amount of time and for fundraising.

There are three categories – there is Competitive – for those who want to take on the opposition and really go for it… there is the Social category for those who want the fun without too much exertion. Run some of the way, jog or walk some of the way, take time out for a coffee and some clue pondering… and there is the Inclusive category for those who want to participate but may need the help of a parent, partner or carer.

The minimum age is 12 years as long as your team partner is over 18 years of age.

The event has been designed for any skill level and a moderate fitness level. The race can be completed at your own pace – whatever you feel comfortable with. As a guide, if you are healthy, can swim 50 metres comfortable and walk at least 10km over a six hour period, you’ll be fine!

There will be 20 amazing challenges throughout Greater Cronulla and included in the entry fee each team will receive a race t-shirt and bib for each member, clue sheet, map, bus timetable, all equipment and props for the activities, free water stations, showbag full of goodies (at the finish), completion certificate, team photo, prizes and trophies for the placegetters and top fundraisers, sausage sizzle and… an amazing day!

If you are visiting Cronulla for the Shire Amazing Race (or any reason!), Rydges Cronulla can look after all your accommodation needs.

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Sydney Mardi Gras

It’s a busy time leading up to the Sydney Mardi Gras and like every year the centrepiece is the iconic parade – with a glittering explosion of LGBTQI pride, lavish floats, cutting satire, fabulous costumes and hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets. This year the parade is on Saturday, March 7.

Also on March 7, following the parade, is the “world’s wildest, sexiest and most outlandish all-night party”. Here’s a link to the official website for more on what’s happening and merchandise etc. There’s a lot more than just the party on March 7.

Already much has been happening – there has been Fair Day when the Mardi Gras folk took over Victoria Park with entertainment, stalls and gourmet food for 70,000 of their closest friends…

There has been the Women Say Something gala event and the Harbour Party in the Royal Botanic Gardens on the edge of the harbour. There’s the Pool Party when Ivy Pool Club becomes and oasis of style. And there’s the Sunset Cruise on the harbour (from Man ‘O’ War Wharf) with the party continuing after dark with DJs and shows.

If you are travelling to Sydney to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Rydges can look after all your accommodation needs. Rydges Sydney Central and Rydges World Square are super handy to Oxford Street and all the action, Rydges North Sydney is just across the harbour bridge and if you are flying in, Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel is perfectly located for arrivals and departures.

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North Sydney Golf Courses

If you are staying at Rydges North Sydney and enjoy whacking a little white ball about, there are a number of excellent and challenging North Sydney golf courses nearby.

The closest is Cammeray Golf Course and it is a fabulous little course (Par 66 for Men and Par 68 for Ladies). There is every chance that the third hole will give you a lifetime memory. It is just 90m for the ladies and 100m for the blokes and there’s probably equal chance of a hole-in-one or the worst hole you have every played – it is steep downhill, heavily bunkered with sharp slopes behind and to the right. The club house has terrific views of the course, Middle Harbour and surrounds. Pardon the pun, here is a link.

North Sydney Golf CoursesThe closest 18-hole is not far away either. Northbridge Golf Club is set in the rugged sandstone escarpment overlooking Middle Harbour. The picturesque course is a challenging Par 64 18-hole course for members and visitors. Link.

Chatswood Golf Club ( top and right) is an 18-hole course located 5 minutes from the Chatswood CBD. It’s been there for over 75 years and whilst it’s a private Club, public players are welcome to enjoy the course. Link.

Castlecove Golf Course allows members and visitors to play a competitive 9 or 18 holes. Link. Established in 1923, Roseville Golf Club‘s challenging 18 hole course winds through the top of an ancient sandstone escarpment overlooking native bushland and valleys and creeks that feed into Middle Harbour. Link. And Lane Cove Country Club is a pretty little course with nine holes and a practice green. Link.

If you are visiting North Sydney for business or leisure, Rydges North Sydney can look after all your accommodation needs.

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Kalgoorlie Golf Course

Visitors to Kalgoorlie are sometimes a tad surprised to find a fabulous golf course in the heart of the goldfields. The Kalgoorlie Golf Course is a first-class, 18 hole grass golf course designed by top course designer, Graham Marsh.

The course is home to the recently amalgamated Goldfields Golf Club and is open to the public by appointment 7 days a week from 6:00am to 5:00pm.  Casual visitors pay $35 to $40 for nine holes and $55 to $65 for 18 holes and clubs and carts can be hired. The clubhouse provides facilities to make the day more enjoyable like showers, club room, catering facilities and golf shop.

The Waterhole Bar & Bistro offers terrific food and value with entrees $11 to $15 and mains around $20 to $22. There is a kids menu and there is an excellent wine list. The Waterhole opens for lunch and dinner on weekdays, as well as breakfast on the weekends. The fully licensed bar is open for coffee and snacks throughout the day.

For bookings phone (08) 9026 2626 or email golf@kalgoorliegolfcourse.com

And, of course, Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort & Spa can look after all your accommodation needs and we have a golf and stay package.

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Peace Train: The Cat Stevens Story

Peace Train: The Cat Stevens Story is at the Darwin Entertainment Centre on Saturday, March 14. Starring Darren Coggan, intimate and accoustic, this promises to be a great night out with Darren telling the Cat Stevens story woven around 23 hit songs like Father and Son, Moonshadow, Sad Lisa, Wild World, Peace Train, Morning Has Broken, Lady D’Arbanville and Sweet Scarlet. For some pretty amazing audience testimonials, check out this page on the Peace Train website.

Peace Train: The Cat Stevens StoryPersonally, I’m not usually a big fan of cover bands or performers but this one is a little bit different – Coggan has taken a snapshot of Cat Stevens after he stopped being Steven Georgiou and before he became Yusuf Islam – that period that saw the albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970), Teaser and the Firecat (1971) and Catch Bull at Four (1972).

Showing my age, but as a student in early 1972, I went to see Cat Stevens at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. It was simply the best concert I have ever been to and I have seen Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Santana, Elton John, INXS, Jethro Tull, Dire Straits and many others. After a standing ovation and a couple of encores Cat found that he had run out of material, so he let the band go and sat at the grand piano and chatted.

He talked about the album he was currently recording, Catch Bull at Four – he talked about the lyrics, notes and chord variations he had been considering – it was musically beautiful and so intimate it felt like you were the only person invited into his bubble of creativity. It was going on to 1:00am when we left, and not one person departed until Mr Stevens left the stage. Mr Coggan is also no stranger to standing ovations in Peace Train: The Cat Stevens Story. It must help to be channelling an artist of honesty, integrity and genius.

If you are visiting Darwin, Rydges Darwin Airport Hotel and Rydges Darwin Airport Resort can look after all your accommodation needs.

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Second Best Hotel in Rotorua

It may seem strange for the best hotel in Rotorua to be promoting the second best hotel in Rotorua but that’s what’s on at the movies – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is now showing at Reading Cinemas.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelWhen I was a kid the family would holiday at the same seaside flats each year, as did other families and part of the fun was catching up familiar faces and friends. That’s how I found this movie sequel. Like many people, I loved the original 2012 film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It was actually the third highest grossing movie for that year ($137million) and that gave the producers a lovely return considering they didn’t have to pay for wild car chases or special effects – just for a great cast and a fine location.

On paper it looked hard to see the target audience… who would want to pay to see a bunch of elderly pommies travel to a hotel in India to find something missing in their lives and/or do something unpredictable before they died? Lots of people it turned out. It was simply one of those delightful British comedies with an amazing ensemble cast. Any movie starring Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy is worth a look and they certainly delivered… as do the rest of the cast which includes Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Diana Hardcastle, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup. Tom Wilkinson was unable to join the cast for the sequel because he died in the first one, but Richard Gere is on hand to deliver some charm and aging eye-candy.

Some cynics would say that the producers are cashing in by serving up a sequel to an already swayed audience… but they have delivered exactly what that audience wants… it’s like slipping on a favourite pair of comfy slippers. There’s some laugh out loud moments and a few sad moments… like life really… there are a few ‘salty’ lines but no offensive language. Nothing is out of left field (in the Birdman or Grand Budapest Hotel sense) – it is predictable, in a good way, and a rewarding cinematic journey. The trailer below will tell you if it is your kind of movie. I’m glad I checked in for another stay at The (Second) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful.

Oh! If you are visiting Rotorua, the somewhat biasedly bragging best hotel for your accommodation needs is Rydges Rotorua.

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The Second Best Hotel in Queenstown

It may seem strange for the best hotel in Queenstown to be promoting the second best hotel in Queenstown but that’s what’s on at the movies – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is now showing at Reading Cinemas.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelWhen I was a kid the family would holiday at the same seaside flats each year, as did other families and part of the fun was catching up familiar faces and friends. That’s how I found this movie sequel. Like many people, I loved the original 2012 film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It was actually the third highest grossing movie for that year ($137million) and that gave the producers a lovely return considering they didn’t have to pay for wild car chases or special effects – just for a great cast and a fine location.

On paper it looked hard to see the target audience… who would want to pay to see a bunch of elderly pommies travel to a hotel in India to find something missing in their lives and/or do something unpredictable before they died? Lots of people it turned out. It was simply one of those delightful British comedies with an amazing ensemble cast. Any movie starring Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy is worth a look and they certainly delivered… as do the rest of the cast which includes Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Diana Hardcastle, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup. Tom Wilkinson was unable to join the cast for the sequel because he died in the first one, but Richard Gere is on hand to deliver some charm and aging eye-candy.

Some cynics would say that the producers are cashing in by serving up a sequel to an already swayed audience… but they have delivered exactly what that audience wants… it’s like slipping on a favourite pair of comfy slippers. There’s some laugh out loud moments and a few sad moments… like life really… there are a few ‘salty’ lines but no offensive language. Nothing is out of left field (in the Birdman or Grand Budapest Hotel sense) – it is predictable, in a good way, and a rewarding cinematic journey. The trailer below will tell you if it is your kind of movie. I’m glad I checked in for another stay at The (Second) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful.

Oh! If you are visiting Queenstown, the somewhat biasedly bragging best hotel for your accommodation needs is Rydges Lakeland Resort.

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