May 20, 2014

It’s a rare thing to see an inner-city ‘green’ space sprout so majestically from what was – literally and figuratively – a black hole, a dark, dangerous no-man’s land backing up to a major train terminus. Even more special, is to see the chic tongue-in-cheek that turns that ‘green’ space for the most part bright yellow and blue. Designed by Rachel Neeson with her late-husband Nick Murcutt (one of my design teachers at UNSW), the Prince Alfred park and pool glisten under Sydney summer (and winter!) skies. Landscaped by Sue Barnsley with lush lawn and native grasses, it’s now a playful public space, upbeat, positive. Reclaimed land, indeed! Massive yellow umbrellas are a fun solution to sun-control, in lieu of stock-standard fixed roofing, and it’s terrific watching swimmers do laps in that Hockney-esque pool. In fact, the whole Prince Alfred Park is like a Jeffrey Smart painting, sprung to life – and you can’t get much …

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May 1, 2014

The Four Winds Music Festival began in 1991, an initiative of the charming seaside town of Bermagui, not far from Bega on South Coast NSW. A biannual event, it went from strength to the point where today it’s safe to say it has come of age. I was down there last weekend, so decided to take a look. At the free, opening performance the audience of locals as well as visitors from Sydney and interstate gathered on the Fisheman’s Wharf of Bermagui port, while classical, indigenous, European and Asian dancers, singers and musicians performed on a boat. It set the international, interdenominational tone of the program, and immediately stamped it with a very special South Coast identity. Highlights of the weekend included Italian cellist Giovani Sollima’s rendition of his Concerto Rotondo, totally awe-inspring. Pianist Dejan Lazic’ Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds, spine-tingling. And both men along with the Artistic Director of the Australian …

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April 14, 2014

Seeing Alain de Botton at the Opera House was totally mind-blowing. On the one hand, walking onstage he looked like a shiny-headed geek, dressed as a philosopher would dress speaking as you would expect a Swiss, Oxford English-educated philosopher would speak. But as soon as he began, you got the sense that this was not going to be any mothballed old theoretician. De Botton’s speciality is helping us get a grip, with clarity and guile, on the everyday. This time he was in town to talk up his latest book – The News; A User’s Manuel. His basic precept it that we receive – and digest – so much news, so often, so how is it that disaster stories are often so uplifting? Why do we love seeing our politicians brought down? Why does some very important stuff get no traction compared to some very unimportant stuff that gets major play? As usual, he puts a …

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March 21, 2014

There’s a strange hush over Sydney’s art world this morning, as everyone recovers from the official Opening Party of the Biennale last night. A couple of thousand people buzzed about the massive heritage industrial space at Technology Park, just behind Carriageworks in Everleigh. It seemed like every artist, every curator, gallerist, board member and their attendant glamour contingents were out in force in what was a massive people’s party of the arts. Ironically, not one artwork was on show – its as if the people themselves were the living installation. Oh, and the massively fabulous food, and music. The 19th Biennale is now officially launched – long live the Biennale!






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December 18, 2013

This just landed on my desk – and instantly my holiday reading is sorted! Almost 450 pages of interviews with some of the world’s stellar architects and other related creatives: Rem Koolhaas, Jacques Herzog, Hedi Slimane, Zaha Hadid, Simon Fuljiwara, Ettore Sottsass, Shigeru Ban… Fifty-six international identities in all. Pin-Up magazine is a biannual compendium tagging itself ‘Architectural Entertainment for Adults’ – and since its launch in New York in 2006 it’s never failed to deliver on its promise of irreverent, insider insight into the worlds of architecture and design. Helmed by wunderkind Felix Burrichter (with a Masters in Architecture from Columbia, Felix cut his editorial teeth at the likes of Numéro and Fantastic Man magazines), the contributor list is also peppered with luminaries from the cultural sector. (I note my friend Stephen Todd has scribed a rather juicy looking profile on the Paris home of Rik Owens and Michelle Lamy…) All this, and not one …

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December 11, 2013

The annual Tobias Partners staff Christmas lunch is always a fun filled, casual-chic affair – and a great opportunity to sit back, relax and simply chat as a team. And what is more quintessentially a Sydney Noël, than a long leisurely lunch on a classic wooden craft? Nothing really – except perhaps catering by Guillaume Brahini, the former chef of the Opera House restaurant that traded under his first name. (Guillaume will open his new restaurant, in Paddington in April next year.)It was Guillaume and is partners who lent us their extremely elegant 1960s Rybovich fishing trawler – and kept the festive fare circulating; so a big Thank You to Guillaume! Boarding at Rose Bay jetties, we ambled up the Paramatta River then out towards the Heads, passing (purely by coincidence, promise!) cruised past Tobias Partners houses at Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse… and of course, the landmark Altona property, where we shall break ground early next …

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November 29, 2013

The announcement that Fiona Hall is to represent Australia a the 2015 Venice Biennale is great news indeed! A seasoned artist, and an excellent sculptor, Hall has the gravItas we need to make a robust impression on this most prestigious of international art stage. There’s a certain Australian-ness to Hall’s work – which nonetheless sidesteps jingoism or cringe. I love the way she transforms the everyday, making ordinary things express extraordinarily supple ideas about consumerism, colonialism and the global condition. The show will be curated by Linda Michael of Heidi Museum of Modern Art in Victoria. And it will be the first to take place in the new Australian pavilion at the Giardini, designed by Denton Corker Marshall. Me? I’m a member of the Commissioner’s Council, active in an ambassadorial, strategic and support role. Venice 2015 – bring it on!

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November 12, 2013

What can we say? Arguably the most iconic harbourside home, one of the most spectacular views of the Opera House, City and Bridge, an immaculate aspect out to the Heads… the superlative has not yet been invented to sum up the breath-taking nature of this site. And we are chuffed to have been chosen to massage Altona into the 21st century, making this historic home into the ultimate high luxury contemporary living experience. Stay tuned for details!






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