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In the previous posts I was mostly talking about the galleries, festivals and exhibitions. But what if you are just walking down the street and do not have time for going to the gallery? Where can you expereince art in this case?

In my opinion, musicians on the Sydney’s streets: in the parks, in the central squares, on the alleys, almost everywhere, make Sydney even more dynamic from a cultural and artistic perspective. Walking down Market Street or Pitt Street Mall, I can nearly smell music and feel it in every cell of my body. I can stand for quite a time and listen to their music, some of them are really great musicians the others are amateurs. But, honestly, sometimes you come across people which have no sence of music and having graduated from a music school I really want to give them a strong advice that it is a good idea to train before the actual perfomance.

Usually passersby do not pay much attention to the musicians or just cast a glance at them. So I think, the only people who stop on the streets are people who really want to listen.

Musician on the street

Tom Ward

Recently, I saw a crowd gathering around a really outstanding musician within just 3 minutes. All these individuals became an instant community, connected by the love of music. Imperceptibly, music appeals to every gender, every age group and every culture – there is hardly an exception. Music, played on the streets of Sydney, is tremendously diverse. It suits every single taste, the same song touches different feelings and provokes various associations: laugh, smile, tears or melancholy. As a consequence, musicians get different responses from people. I have witnessed a case when one man decided to drop his pants and dance around in the middle of everyone for a while (he had underpants though).

I have never thought that people respond to music so differently until I asked musicians about their own experience. “It depends what time is it. If it is late at night on a Saturday night they usually dance. But I have been given Mexican hats, have been kissed a few times, I have even got some phone numbers.” says Tom Ward.

It does not really matter for someone who loves music where to play, unless it does not rain. “The location is not important for me what I take serious is my music” Sereo Leblanc, a guitarist who has played on the streets for 7 years. However, some people think that street musicians just distract and that it is not a real music. Once, someone walked pass Leblanc and said “Get a real job”. Music can even enhance a special moment. For example, once when Ward was playing at Circular Quay, a man came and requested something romantic. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend. When the music started to play, the man asked his future wife to marry him, and five people started crying. The music drew strangers into a very touching moment and connected them to the couple and to each other. Everyone was moved.

I wondered why these talented musicians play on the streets, when most have a musical education, a job and perform and record their own music. Asking musicians, I had various answers and reasons. “Playing on the streets gives me an opportunity to play to people who never go to a concert like homeless people or people who really love it” says Ward. This people cannot afford to go to the Opera House and spent one hundred dollars on a ticket, not even 20 dollars on a ticket. But they love live music and they want to enjoy it with all their hearts”. What is more, “Between the concerts I need to practice and it gives me an opportunity to improvise and get some repertoire” adds talented guitarist. Of course it also is about money and selling disks, promoting your music. Most of the street musicians don’t earn their living from playing on the streets but they can practice and understand that their creative work can be rewarded.

What musicians play directly affects their income. People prefer well-known songs, dance songs or the one they can sing along with. There is hardly someone who enjoys Chopin, Bach or Tchaikovsky for more than thirty minutes. “Playing repertoire for a competition, I make a quarter of the money I would made playing show pieces” exclaims Ward. “But it’s ok as long as people enjoy and listen”.

I can’t imagine Sydney without its magnificent atmosphere made by musicians from all over the world playing different instruments. It is so exciting to listen to music which seems to be wild in some way and appealing in the other. So music and art follow you everywhere in Sydney and you can experience them even on the streets.

Go out and start experiencing right now!

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My Australian friend once told me “You know, I have watched few Russian movies and they are so different… like if you breathe a fresh frosty air in the middle of the desert called mainstream movies”. This emotional response of my friend confused me and I asked if she could describe Russian movies in one word. My friends answer was:

They are cordial.

Is not it extraordinary that someone who lives in the other part of the world and has no Russian background feels such a close connection to Russian cinema?

Have YOU ever seen Russian movies? Probably not…But it is never too late to catch up and the Russian film festival is offering you this opportunity.

The Russian film festival “Russian Resurrection 2010” is taking place in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney. The program of the festival features 17 contemporary films as well as retrospective on the World War II.  This year is the seventh instalment of Russian Resurrection.

The festival will be held till the 5th September in Melbourne, till the 8th September in Brisbane, till the 15th September in Perth and Adelaide and till the 19th September in Canberra. Unfortunately, it has already finished in Sydney on the 1st September.

All movies shown at the film festival can award you with a fascinating experience, what you want to undergo depends just on your choice of a movie. But I would recommend that  you first of all see particular movies. Let me be your guide into Russian movies, since I have Russian background and I wil do my best to suggest the best once for your viewing.

Hard Labor Vacation

Hard Labor Vacation is a comedy filmed in 2009. It features some famous and popular Russian actors and tells about two prisoners who after escaping a jail accidently get into a children summer camp. In the camp they are mistaken for a new-come Pioneer Leaders. And they have to undertake this role in order to not be caught by a police but as they find out later serving time in prison can be safer and less challenging then in the summer camp among energetic and rebellious teenagers.

From my own experience, I can say that the movie is hilarious, however, the humor in the film is quite sophisticated. Hard Labor Vacation is truthful and different to any “glamour” style movie. It  shows ordinary people in a bit unordinary situation, real friendship and relationships between parents and children as well as ability of even an inveterate law-breaker to be off the beam.

Peter on his way to heaven

Made in 2009, Peter on his way to heaven movie totally justifies its genre (drama/comedy) by making the viewer burst out laughing or burst into tears. The movie has won several awards and was celebrated by critics. Peter on his way to heaven is about a young mentally retarded man called Peter. The whole Soviet village participates in trying to make Peter feel important by letting him play into a policeman. The climax starts when Peter tries to catch a fugitive criminal.

I have experienced this movie during Russian Resurrection festival in Sydney. The movie is engaging and challenging, it gives you food for reflection on the theme of a man and a law, how all the people want to be in charge and feel important. What surprises me most is that as a viewer you do not feel sorry for a retarded man, you don’t feel laughing at him as well. The director makes the viewer respect Peter for his kindness, honesty and desire to help everyone.

Ivan’s Childhood

Ivan’s childhood is filmed by a world-known Russian director, Andrei Tarkovsky, in 1962.

During the war everyone faces loss, and twelve year-old Ivan is not an exception. His mother and sister were executed by shooting by Nazis, his father died on a battlefield.   A little boy is desperate to take revenge and his dreams are the only bridge which connects him with lost and so desirable “normal childhood”.

Everybody dies but me

Filmed in 2008 and screened in 2010, Everybody dies but me is directed by a contemporary and controversial Russian female director, Valeriya Gai Germanika. The whole process of filming was controvercial as well. Actors are really fighting and drinking real alcohol. Mostly the filming is hand-held and contains abusive language.

The storyline itself provokes ferocious comments from may viewers. It tells about tree girls who are preparing for a school disco and at the same time do their routine. They want to grow up as soon as possible, however, their parents and teachers obviously do not understand rebellious desire of girls to be counted as  grown-ups. The disco itself is preparing many “surprises” and unexpected situations for girls.

So what can I add now but enjoy!

P.S.I can also mention that the 3D cartoon Belka & Strelka is the first 3D animated film ever made in Russia, so it can be counted as a considerable progress in the Russian film technology.

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Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Do you need to be special to understand Art?

Do you need to have sophisticated knowledge in this area?

My answer is NO.

You can appreciate art if it evokes emotions in you, if you feel communication between you and the art. And I do strongly believe that this emotional approach of understanding is one hundred times better than any academic approach where you consider the technique, components, etc. Because personal experience worth as much as an academic degree.

People tend to censor their thoughts and ideas about art. They feel not educated enough to be able to actually talk about it.

This process takes its origins from the art being originally an “upper class activity”, currently, it still has this notion of elitism. Moreover, the art circle is so tight that even for those who have an art degree or experience it is inconceivably difficult to cut their way into this elite community.

Art tends to be for a specific group of people.

Some people create, selected critique.

Critique usually comes in a form which from a very beginning underlines that the author had a proper art education, since the critique is heavy on terminology and “high” concepts. It does not allow general audience, who might be scared away by this sophisticated writing, to engage with the art and to understand that art is for everybody.

Would you mind if I make a parallel between art and religion?

The art is like a God. And an art critic is like a priest. Not necessary do people need to go to the priest to talk to the God, so why do we need to go the art critic to talk to the art? Critics interpret art to the audience. But why don’t we interpret it by ourselves?

Actually, in the process of creating the critique, critics dismantle the art and it becomes unrecognizable. Let’s draw an analogy with a puzzle. By analyzing, critics are pulling the pieces of the puzzle apart, and then the whole picture does not make sense. But when everything is together, you are able to appreciate and to respond.

To be clear, I am not against critics, I just think that critique should be some kind of an additional literature, not the main source of knowledge. People should not be afraid to go to the art exhibition, at the same time, they should not hesitate to express their opinions. Who cares if a critic said this painting is a disaster, if another person looking at it started crying, emotionally responding. In my opinion, first of all, art should seek response, it should resonate.

This is why, being not a photographer, I went to the photography exhibition. And now I am going to talk about it.

The exhibition called Creating the look: Benini and fashion photography is held at Powerhouse museum until 18 April 2011.

I have found out for myself that Powerhouse museum is a real treasure chest when it comes to any sort of art. It has such a big variety of works that a week might not be enough to have a really close look at everything that is on at the moment.

Creating the look: Benini and fashion photography presents photographs from a different period of Benin’s life alongside with some works of contemporary photographers, influenced by his talent and style.

Success of Bruno Benini proves that behind every talented man there is a talented woman. In Benini’s case this was his wife stylist Hazel Benini. Together they have produced some of the most remarkable fashion images in the history of Australia.

So being not a professional photographer, hardly can I assess this exhibition form a deep perspective, however, I can say that I did enjoy it. I would describe photos I saw there as glossy, glamorous, stylish and extremely elegant. They were different to any fashion photography you see today.

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

The photos were sophisticated.

Full stop, I said my opinion on the art form about which I know nothing. Now it is your turn to experience the exhibition and to make a comment on this post.

Or are you afraid to make a comment…

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We have already reviewed few well-known and established artists but this time I am going to talk about those who are just in the begging in of their designer path or are not familiar to a broad audience.

Powerhouse museum has appeared to be a perfect place for my plan. Currently, from 13th of August till the 15th of August the museum hosts the young blood designers market. Anyone can visit young blood designers market for a small fee of $5.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Mainly you will be able to see works by Australian designers, however, there will be some international artists from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Brazil. One of the most exciting aspects of this market is that you are actually able to buy their hand-made products for a reasonable price. The range of products is unbelievably diverse: fashion, furniture, jewellery, graphics, industrial design, etc.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

The market has been held in the museum since 2005 and helped many emerging artists to develop their products, sell them, and find like-minded people or maybe even investors.

I had a chance to experience this market on Friday 13th. But this mystical date under no circumstances influenced my journey through the market. Nevertheless, I can say that some people appeared quite mysterious to me. It was very unusual to be in the museum but at the same time have an opportunity to touch things on display or to make pictures. In my opinion, it is a bit unusual place for a market which in my mind associates with flooding crowds of arguing and screaming people. On the contrary, this market looked civilized.

Each designer had his own stand that was decorated in a special manner. Does not matter if you like the products or not, it is interesting just to enter a little world of every person, see how an artist can think of his own work, understand what is his aim or what messages he is trying to deliver to the audience.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


And at this market, art is for everybody and designers are standing within your touch. So don’t miss your chance and touch… their artistic products.

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I was always interested in Tim Burton’s art and his way of perception which deeply resonates with my inner world. So can you imagine my excitement when I received an opportunity to go to Melbourne and visit Burton’s exhibition at acmi.

Tim Burton's exhibition in Melbourne

Tim Burton's exhibition in Melbourne

I heard about this event a couple of months ago and was secretly dreaming about this opportunity with no hope for my dream to come true. But thanks to my friend’s efforts we made it and came for a short trip to Melbourne. This is how our journey began. Honestly, I was expecting something fantastic and overwhelming but this exhibition surpassed all expectations, it was just unbelievably good. And I do not exaggerate.

the entrance to acmi

the entrance to acmi

The exhibition at acmi presents Burton’s drawings, photographs, movies, puppets, models, poetry and sketches stretching back to his childhood. It provides access to personal and mysterious world of the auteur. Literally, his brain is on display.

Batman car

Batman car

Before the entrance to the actual exhibition visitors are able to have a look at some of Burton’s photographs, paintings, models and a Batman car from the movie (you don’t need to pay to see these exhibits).

Photographs made by Tim Burton

Photographs made by Tim Burton

I guess, all these things can be seen for free in order to generate a bigger interest and make passers-by pass into the paid Burton’s section. In the photographs you can find characters from the Nightmare before Christmas, ex-girlfriend Lisa Marie and quirky objects.

I was personally fascinated by a photograph Untitled (Blue girl with Scull). It is at the same time engaging and confronting. I am amazed by the whole idea and the way it is presented, however, the baby with needles in his body is too much for me. This little part of the gallery already establishes a certain image of the “Burtonesque” style – quirky, dark and gothic.

Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)

Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)

The Batman car is situated just near the entrance to the main Burton gallery. Although, most people were impressed by the car (to me it reminded a huge and black animal), I was attracted to the window behind the car. It is so unusual. Made in a drop shape and surrounded by hypnotic circles it makes you stare at it for ages. I have received an impression that I am standing here, in Tim Burton’s head and see the “real” world through his eyes.

Window designed in the "Burtonesque" style

Window designed in the "Burtonesque" style

Finally, we have decided to move to the main gallery. The entrance is decorated in a form of a giant mouth and reminds of an entrance into Luna Park.

Entrance to the gallery

Entrance to the gallery

Inside visitors can see nearly everything from Burton’s art concerning all his movies. The exhibition begins with his early ages spent in Burbank and ends with a brand new movie Alice in Wonderland. The difference between the real world full of sunshine and more pale colours hugely contrast with the one created by acmi to present Burton’s art. Inside, there is a special lightening; it is darks but still enough for you to clearly see all his artworks. The wall are mostly purple and black, however, some other colors are used as well. Everything is written in a “Burtonesque” style font. The designers of the gallery heavily used Burton’s favorite “things”, such as black and white tiles, spirals, and quirky special trees. Watch out, decorations and artworks can be at any place: beneath your legs or in front of your eyes. All in all, Burton’s art is divided into the periods of his life and movies he filmed in a chronological order.

Inside Tim Burton's exhibition

Inside Tim Burton's exhibition

Critics say “Dark world of Tim Burton” but if you look closer it is not dark, there is so much colour in it. For example, it is shocking how many colours of black or grey you see. Even simple black in his vision is not simple black but something exciting. Interestingly, Burton’s style approaches all audiences and, as a consequence, at the exhibition you can meet people of all ages, from toddlers to elders in their mid 80s. It is so much fun for everyone. After visiting the exhibition I was overwhelmed with the emotions and felt like doing and creating, and my friends have experienced similar emotions.

Burton’s art is interactive. It is the art for everybody without any elitism. There is no wall between you and the artist; you are literally on the same ground. With not a hint of a snobbery, Burton welcomes everyone into his magical world.
Honestly, it is impossible to describe everything you see there in one article, even one book is not enough, I guess. So the best way to try his art is just to go and try it by yourself. The tickets cost within 20 dollars, basically the price for hours of entertainment, art and wonderland is the same as for one Burton’s movie screened at the cinemas. Moreover, the exhibition will be held till the 10th October, 2010 so you have time.
Do you still doubt whether to go or not? Well, if you appreciate creative mind, you will definitely appreciate this exhibition.

Tim Burton

Tim Burton

Finally, I want to ask a question: “What would you give to have a cup of coffee with Tim Burton?”

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