A few Tuesdays ago my good friend Phillip and I decided to properly explore my hometown. Our vision for this day trip was to weed out spots neither of us had seen before. It proved surprisingly easy- we walked instead of drove, crossed to the right side of the street and walked straight ahead. It was as simple as asking myself where I’d usually go and then doing the exact opposite. When searching for cafes with adjoining galleries, we came across Katoomba Cultural Centre which showcases innovative, diverse, distinctive and creative cultural programs for enjoyment by residents of and visitors to the Blue Mountains.
Located in the heart of Katoomba, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre encompasses the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, Katoomba Library and Into the Blue, an interactive exhibition that explores the history and natural landscape of the Blue Mountains. Visitors can also enjoy the viewing platform that takes in stunning panoramic vistas of Katoomba and the Jamison Valley. The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is a sister facility to the Blue Mountains Theatre, Community Hub and Braemar Gallery located in Springwood.
We first stopped by The Gallery cafe and treated ourselves to a delicious brunch. We chose toasties with roast pumpkin, house marinated fetta and spinach on herbed focaccia bread. Phillip had brought this divine homemade vanilla slice which we enjoyed afterwards. The cafe was a relaxing, contemporary and light filled space. Their menu is seasonal, utilising local produce in its daily specials that include brunch items, salads, soups and quiches. Their specialties include barista made coffee with locally roasted beans and a sweet treat of your choice- I was eyeing their caramel slice! In winter you can warm up by the fireplace with a hot chocolate or sticky chai.
Next on our list was the gift shop which proved to be anything but typical, boring or touristy. Between bespoke and collectible Christmas decorations, hand cut acrylic and resin earrings, photo booth props and design your own marble maze kits, there was something for everyone. Their stationery and paper goods range in particular was impeccable. I enjoy collecting printed wrapping paper and was delighted to find assorted rolls with crystals and gemstones, cacti and plants and the sweetest little tea party scene. I got all the Alice in Wonderland vibes!
After we’d had a look around, we purchased tickets to the two exhibits currently running- a charitable fee of three dollars each was required and then we had free rein of the place. The first exhibit was chock full of Australian history and detailed the effects of recent bushfires on our landscape, displayed compasses and other survival trinkets from first explorers back in the day and taught me about the hundred species of gumnuts. The installations were immersive and wrapped around from wall to ceiling. We stood in awe, mesmerised by the earthy soundtrack of bird song, animal chitter, wind, rain and thunder. The lights were dimmed, flickering on and off occasionally.
Around mid afternoon we ventured outside to move Phillip’s car and seek out the best street art photo spots. We first stopped into Wilde Ivy, a combination florist and homewares store that caught my eye. They had a beautiful trailing marble queen plant that looked to be in top condition and was reasonably priced. I’m still quite keen on it! Their range included ethical skincare, fairtrade chocolate, pottery in collaboration with the artist Bromley, cushion covers and tote bags with native flora, woven baskets with leather pulls, berry jams, candles and more.
Afterwards we struck gold and found a mural with mama and baby birds, waratah flowers, a door painted secret garden style and a woman climbing a mountain. Incredible as these were, they had nothing on what we were to discover later at Beverly Lane. Almost every alleyway featured something curious and eye catching. Hanging mushroom sculptures, Japanese fans, mosaic tiled garden beds. Butterfly laneway provided ample opportunity to see my spirit animal in its many forms. The sunlight hit just right and formed rainbows against the brick.
By this time it was late afternoon and we were getting hungry- we decided on lunch at the local RSL club and their Red Poppy Brasserie restaurant. After a devastating fire in February of twenty seventeen, the premises were rebuilt to be bigger and better than ever with state of the art facilities. The twelve million dollar development includes three bars, a brand new restaurant, children’s play areas, terraces, several lounges and an events centre. There we ordered Carbonara pasta with linguini, onion, mushrooms and shaved parmesan in a garlic cream sauce. For a side we got these spicy buffalo wings tossed in sweet baby ray’s hot sauce and chips with garlic aioli. The food was filling and had just the right kick to it as always!
As sunset approached, we headed to the Three Sisters walk and tourist attraction. The beauty of the Blue Mountains is shrouded in a veil of mystery and outstanding natural splendour. Silver mist rises from the green cloaked rainforest, golden peaks reach towards the sky and down in the valleys waterfalls gush to feed the scented eucalyptus trees. Every year tourists flock to stand in awe at the unusual rock formations carved from the cliffs at Echo Point in Katoomba. These three majestic rocks capture the sunlight and burst with colour throughout the day, even when the sky floods with night the magical three sisters glitter gold against the velvet backdrop.
Yet it’s not only the wonder of the landscape that captures the hearts of many travellers who sojourn to the Blue Mountains but the story behind the three rocks that stand tall. The ancient Aboriginal legend tells the tale of three sisters- Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo. These three enchanting girls lived in the heart of the Jamison Valley as part of the Katoomba tribe. The girls were young and their hearts were captured by three brothers from a neighbouring tribe. However, the law of the land forbid them from following their desires and marrying outside their own people.
The brothers decided to capture the girls and carry them away to be wed, therefore ensuing a major battle as the two tribes clashed and the blood ran thick. An elderly doctor from the Katoomba tribe feared for the safety of the beautiful sisters and cast a spell to turn them to stone to keep them safe from harm. During the raging battle however the doctor was killed and therefore unable to reverse the spell.
The sisters stand mournfully high above the Jamison Valley, doused in glory, bewitching in their enchantment but never able to return to the human form. Even for those who don’t believe the legend it still makes for a heart wrenching sight to gaze up at these powerful rocks carved from the earth and to remember the tragic tale. Whether you ride the scenic railway to capture a glimpse of the three sisters standing tall in the afternoon sun or trek through the trails that wrap around Echo Point, the sisters are sure to ignite the spark in your imagination and bring to life a touch of magic and myth within this dreamtime story.
Post Haste Exhibition
Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro are Australian artists who reclaim and transform the fallout of consumer society in their practice. Combining a playful sense of humour and an engagement with historical art precedents, their work is characterised by the deconstruction and reinvention of prefabricated structures and the assemblage of accumulated objects into extraordinary sculptures and installations.
Healy and Cordeiro’s practice reflects a preoccupation with the dynamics of global mobility- the networks, standards and financial systems that enable and restrict the movement of people and goods in the modern era. Creating tensions between order and disorder, their works are shaped by traditional sculptural concerns such as mass, form and scale, however they also incorporate the expressive potential of motion, speaking to the way things move and change over time.
Post-haste showcases the past decade of works by artist duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, exploring themes of obsolescence, collective endeavour and the place of the individual within complex systems. The artists are concerned with Paul Virilio’s concept of Dromology, investigating how the speed at which something occurs may change its essential nature. In an epoch where speed means everything, what happens when nature pulls the handbrake? Working across a variety of mediums including site specific interventions, photography, sculpture, video and sound, the duo’s past artworks have hinted at the impending consequences of our current actions.
Reflecting on the forced stasis of the world due to the pandemic, artists Claire and Sean question whether these events may be payment that has been long overdue. Many of the works suggest future scenarios and project outcomes if we are to continue down the path we are on. Suddenly there is a significant pause for thought after a period of great immediacy. The speed and voracity in which we have consumed fossil fuels, the urgency of receiving goods, the ease of filling a shopping trolley with food no matter the distances they have travelled, extinguishing the earth’s riches in such haste, exhausting what has taken millions of years to be created has reached such a flashpoint. This exhibition captures the essence of our current predicament.
Epicormic Growth Exhibition
In May of twenty twenty one, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro ran workshops with senior visual art students from Blue Mountains high schools to create two collaborative works. Exploring popular materials such as lego and smartphones, the artists encouraged the students to reflect on the planned obsolescence of technology. The first sculpture, a lego piece known as Block Party, was devised by the artists so that each participating student could contribute to the final result. The second element, speaking directly to the artists interest in discontinuation and speed, particularly in relation to new and superseded technologies, is a project using dead flip, android and apple smartphones as the canvas. Students were invited to paint a landscape, representing the amazing beauty of our natural environment onto dead smartphones. The resulting work shows individual expressions by our local young people on an object that would be very familiar and valued to them.
Beverly Place Street Art
The Street Art Walk is a dynamic, community driven outdoor gallery created by Street Art Murals Australia in partnership with the University of Western Sydney and relevant stakeholders in the Beverly Place precinct. The Street Art Walk displays world standard street art from international, national and local artists of varying experience painting large scale artworks in this precinct through a curated process of proposal. These murals cover all street art disciplines and are temporary by nature. The Street Art Walk was conceived in twenty thirteen when local resident Dave Riley suggested to the the council that artwork be painted in this laneway. Marrying together a catchy urban aesthetic with the potential this project had to make a positive contribution to street artists, the town and its creative economies were recognised. All legal, heritage, planning and stakeholder requirements were met and this space was launched in june of twenty fifteen with the contribution of a hundred and thirty five individuals.