As I touched on briefly in Monday’s Weekly Inspiration post, I spent the majority of last Saturday venturing around Sydney City in the hopes of rediscovering the works of a famous artist. My family and I had this particular outing planned a couple of months in advance. We had booked tickets to Van Gogh Alive, a large scale, multi sensory experience that inspires millions of people everyday across the cities of the world. Van Gogh’s works have been displayed and enjoyed by many- they dot the walls of art galleries everywhere and hang in the homes of those who are wealthy and fortunate. This exhibition, however, took on another dimension. From the moment you enter, you become encapsulated within a vibrant symphony of light, colour and sound. You are no longer an outsider peering in but a part of the stimulating display itself. You are invited to engage your many senses and immerse yourself in the life of a very curious individual. An experience that is highly enchanting, deeply compelling, soulful and harrowing almost simultaneously.
However, I digress. Midday brunch was an equally entertaining affair and certainly deserves to be documented. Our Cafe of choice was Cook & Co, a Turkish place in Auburn, one of the surrounding suburbs of Parramatta. My dad lives here and has visited many times, often with my brother in tow during their weekends together. For such a bustling cafe it’s located remotely, accessible through a park station on one of the main roads. It’s tucked away, making the chances of happening upon it unlikely. As they say though, word of mouth helps a business more than you can imagine. My first impression of Cook and Co was overwhelmingly positive. The staff were friendly and engaged, the diners easy going and chatting together in lively, animated voices, the atmosphere relaxed and beautifully earthy- it was blissful. The four of us decided to order a balance of savoury and sweet dishes to share. My brother and I got pancake stacks with maple syrup, berries and ice cream while my parents ordered all day breakfast platters- think avocado toast on thick sourdough, ricotta and honey dip, cured turkey and dolma, fresh veggies and sprouts, a modest selection of cheeses, fried eggs, turkish bread and more. To go with our meal, a mocha, latte, fresh orange juice and passionfruit and mint mocktail for me.
We ate at a leisurely pace and then headed straight to Moore Park Entertainment Quarter afterwards. We were quite timely and arrived just as the exhibition began, give or take a few minutes. None of us had been before but the Van Gogh exhibition was heavily advertised, as expected. The tickets cost a small fortune so this only makes sense. Upon arrival, we were told that a conditional of entry was for masks to be worn, unless you were younger than twelve years old. Oh well. That decided how well three of us would breathe that afternoon- my brother was very pleased to be a mere ten years old. I understand that I may sound ignorant or discourteous however my fellow Sydney siders would know that the virus is at an all time low. We have next to no infections. Considering the sheer volume of people that would occupy the same space however, we were happy to comply and understood the reasoning behind this decision. I’m not too familiar with mask wearing as I only put mine on to visit the doctor. Too many people out there have turned the mask into a fashion statement and I’m personally not here for it. I don’t feel there’s any need for a pretty mask but so be it. Each to their own!
The air inside was considerably stuffier. The staff checked our temperatures and then directed my family and another group of people to the first event. We entered a darkened room that soon lit up with the Dutch Painters Post Impressionist works. Van Gogh’s paintings are among the most expensive in the world and for good reason. They are distinctive and so uniquely him. They epitomise his creative vision and capture for the spellbound audience the inner workings of his mind. Van Gogh, over a decade, created a total of two thousand one hundred works, eight hundred and sixty of which are oil paintings. The last two years of his life, marred by his rapid descent into mental illness, showcased the mad genius within him. He became committed to touching the world in ways significant, even if his generation remained blind to the gifts he presented. Today, Van Gogh is renowned, the viewing of his works a world class experience. The carrying out of those final wishes marked the beginning of Van Gogh receiving the dignity he should have been afforded long ago. The facts stand however- he is memorialised by his great artistry. Vincent worked with a sense of urgency that often caused him a great deal of stress. He became known for his bold palette and dramatic brush strokes. His frequently using paint straight from the tube solidified his personal style and reflected the characteristics of a technique called impasto, an Italian word for paste or mixture. Impasto is used to describe a process where paint is laid so thickly on a canvas that the texture of brush strokes or palette knife are clearly visible. The second half of the exhibition was a lot less involved than the first, however, we did see an appropriation of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, complete with a realistic backdrop and tangible furniture. It was the simplicity of his space that drew me in. Van Gogh, a fellow minimalist. It seems we do have something in common!
After the exhibition had concluded, we found ourselves with matching headaches from restricted breathing. We were more than happy to leave the premises and remove our masks! We ventured further into Moore Park, crossing many trick or treaters along the way. The venue had hosted a halloween fair complete with food stalls from every cuisine and enough rides and attractions to fill a theme park. My brother and I had our minds set on food however. Our keen focus on the Van Gogh Paintings had us chewing through all the energy we’d built up earlier in the day. We stopped at my favourite Pizza Parlour Fratelli Fresh and had a Margherita, cokes and a Bannoffee Pie for dessert, all of which made for a decent meal. Yet again, our schedule was just right- we couldn’t have made better time. Not two minutes after leaving the restaurant, a torrential downpour started. That well and truly marked the end of our stay. We hurried to the carpark and I made a mental note to visit Moore Park again another day. Lots of good eateries, diverse street art and murals- they had a good thing going. Besides, it couldn’t be better location wise. The Entertainment Quarter is located fifteen minutes away from Central Station and is practically smack bang in the City. We’d taken separate cars as my mum had a dance event in the evening and needed to head there from the City. My dad, brother and I stopped at a local beach quickly for a power nap with a view. It’s always nice to relax by the ocean and hear the crashing of the waves as you drift off.