What gives Sydney its swagger? Time Out shines a light on the art, fashion, sounds and scenes that are right on, right now

A is for Brook Andrew

Here’s the kind of interdisciplinary artist who puts other so-called interdisciplinary artists to shame. Brook Andrew works across digital media, photography, performance, sculpture, sound, text, film and, er, jumping castle. (His interactive monument ‘Jumping Castle War Memorial’ was a remarkable statement at the 17th Biennale of Sydney.) Andrew is continually drawn to issues of history and his own Wiradjuri heritage, but also to spectacle: optical illusions, neon, colour. His Sydney Festival project ‘Travelling Colony’ combines these fascinations in a series of installations about the history of Redfern, set up in a striking procession of hand-painted caravans.

B is for Bams & Ted

Theatregoers who caught Griffin’s recent production This Year’s Ashes will have noticed a vintage pop-up shop in the theatre foyer drawing on the play’s bat-and-wicket context. Pitch-appropriate whites and battered cricket bats hung beside cute floral frocks, not just to set the scene, but as a retail shop. Claire and Rachel Fuller, the sister duo behind the Bams & Ted pop-up, have been using texts as a vintage retail platform for some years now. “The opportunity first came up at Gaffa Gallery for the Arcade Projects when they moved to Clarence Street,” Claire recalls. “We didn’t just want to do another vintage shop, so decided to base the space on a series of characters.” Drawing inspiration from the old police station building that now houses Gaffa, the pair did a series of pop-ups based on women of mystery: Miranda from Picnic at Hanging Rock; Jessica from Murder She Wrote; and Frances from To Catch a Thief. More recently Bams & Ted popped up in William Street, Paddington, with retail installations based on The Edge of Love and Edward Scissorhands. “Griffin had just started their foyer projects and one of the girls came into the Paddington pop-up and thought we’d be a good fit,” Claire continues. The sisters have both studied literature and film at university and have worked on and off at Glebe’s Cornstalk Bookshop for years, which no doubt provides plenty of literary inspiration.

They’ve also long been obsessed with vintage fashion. “To put it in perspective,” offers Rachel, “we grew up on a farm and the old shearing shed and shearers’ quarters at home is now wall-to-wall vintage.” Next up, the girls are going digital. “We are keen to move online, and the site will still use themes, but it will be online vintage retail,” explains Rachel. “We are also getting into more one-off parties like the Wes Anderson-themed event we did at World Bar in May,” adds Claire. “And we are in talks with an ex-chef friend to collaborate on a food and fashion zine. Stay tuned!” Check out upcoming projects at bams-and-ted.blogspot.com.

C is for Chippendale

Everyone is tipping Redfern as the next big suburb, but our money’s on Chippo. You might see it as a jumble of rusted garages and student pubs (the Abercrombie and the Clare – we love you, but it’s true) but among the rubble are terrific galleries White Rabbit and NG and great cafés Little Queen and Giulia. Hot new bar Freda’s has moved in next to the abandoned dance studio, which is rumoured to become chef Lennox Hastie’s joint. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.

D is for District 01

These gallery walls aren’t just for art. District 01 hosts plays, Secret Foodies events and seriously sweet fashion sales. Over summer we’ll be mincing around in hugely discounted threads by P.A.M, Cohen et Sabine, Gary Bigeni and Jac + Jack among others. Add ‘District ZeroOne’ as a Facebook friend to be in the bargain loop over summer.

E is for East Sydney Hotel

The historic Woolloomooloo watering hole now hosts a flea market on the first Sunday of the month. The joint fills up with racks of vintage clothes, old coin collections, records and the like, and local bands and DJs set up on the Crown Street footpath to soundtrack the afternoon. Get in quick, because who knows what could happen in light of the ‘for sale’ sign that’s been put up recently?

F is for FBi Social

FBi Radio’s venue spin-off has quickly become the holy grail of Sydney gigging. Much like the music policy for the airwaves, FBi Social bills the best local bands alongside a carefully selected line-up of international acts. During the week at the ’Social you’ll also find cultural doses of different kinds, including literary open-mic night Penguin Plays Rough; comedy fixture Laugh Your Tits Off; and poetry throw-down Caravan Slam. Our holiday pick is Hanni El Khatib’s gig on Thu 29 Dec - get ready to shake it to gritty 60s Americana, and then kick on downstairs in the hotel’s Dive Bar.

G is for Gallery A.S.

What’s an art gallery without any walls? Damn cool, that’s what. So far gallerist Joseph Allen Shea has taken artist Daniel Askill to the Christian Science Church and installed a host of cuttingedge video artists including soda_jerk, Anthony Lister and Jacob Ciocci to the former Paramount Pictures Building, to name a few outings. A.S. has plenty of pop-ups planned for the summer months too, so prepare to catch a show somewhere unexpected.

H is for Harrolds Menswear

Men’s fashion just kicked it up a notch at Harrolds. Here you’ll find local Sydneysiders Chronicles of Never sharing rack space with Comme des Garçons, Dior and Rick Owens. Get in for Dita eyewear, too.

I is for Ici Et Lá

There’s more to this rustic French design store than exxy espadrilles, we assure you. Surry Hills French interiors store ici et là (it means ‘here and there’) has gathered a strong following for its collection of antique French deckchairs, zinc letters, industrial light shades and vibrant striped fabrics. But have you met Marcel the resident French bulldog sunning himself on the pavement, or been to one of the special Sunday dinners inside the shop run by ex-Rockpool chef Mike McEnearney? If you answered ‘no’ to either of these questions, then you know what to do.

J is for Jonti

LA label Stones Throw has long set the bar high for hot hip-hop sounds, with signings including Madlib, Dam-Funk and of course super-cool label head Peanut Butter Wolf. More recently the label has become the home of local psychedelic beat pusher Jonti – their first Aussie signing. With them, Jonti has just released Twirligig, a wild, textured futurepop ride. “I actually completed this album around three years ago,” Jonti explains over the phone from New York, where he’s just come from a NYLON shoot where the NYC fashion and music magazine dressed him as a Beatle (“all 60s and shit - it was a lot of fun”). “But all this crazy stuff happened since then.” Like winning a competition with his band Djanimals to write and record a track for a Tooheys Extra Dry ad at Electric Ladyland with Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Sean Lennon and Santigold, for example. “I wanted to get Twirligig finished as a proper album and I looked at the back of all my favourite records - all Stones Throw - and they were all mastered by Elysian Masters. I got in touch and amazingly they agreed to master Twirligig,” Jonti continues. “They sent it to Peanut Butter Wolf because they thought he’d be into it, and next thing I knew I had a phone call from him.” Now, working out of the label’s LA studios, Jonti is busy collaborating with other talents on the Stones Throw rotation. In February you can catch the fruits of this work at Changing Lanes, but until then get your hands on a copy of Twirligig pronto.

K is for Koskela Furniture

Forget Parker and Eames: you need to get to know Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky, the folks behind this custom furniture store where low, clean lines rule. Call ahead and then pay them a visit at their brand new Potts Point pop-up showroom.

L is for Late night library

You may wonder what ‘library’ is doing on a list of all things cool, but Surry Hills Library is a cultural hive on Thursday nights. We’re talking rock’n’roll, dirty talk and booze. Seriously. Each adults-only Late Night Library is different, so as well as live music and erotic fan fiction you might find a literary event like Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire’s Women of Letters, DIY publishing presentations, twisted comedy, film screenings, or artist talks. All are free and for many you can BYO!

M is for Miguel Sanchez

Before he ever touched needle to skin, 26-year-old Miguel Sanchez worked with his dad as a Stonemason. His name was actually given to him in the first shop he ever worked in, along with, he says, “the duties of emptying bins, picking up cigarette buts off the street and making sure the fridge didn’t run out of Pepsi Max... ever. Half the guys called me Miguel and the other half called me Sanchez. I stuck in there and the name stuck to me.” And no, he didn’t know the name was one of Troy Mc-Clure’s aliases. Sanchez started tattooing in 2008 and has since had the pleasure of tattooing Sydney musicians Lanie Lane and Pat Capocci as well as the well inked Ben and Elvis from Porteño. His least favourite place to tattoo anyone is “the little bubble gummy bit on the back of your arm where it starts to go into the armpit” but will happily work to any brief. “If someone wants to be tattooed by me then I’ll work with them to come up with something we can both be happy with.” When he’s not permanently marking the good people of Sydney at private, appointment-only studio Shanghai Charlie’s, he’s drinking at Shady Pines, eating empanadas at Gardel’s Bar, and painting late into the night.

N is for New Navy

They came all the way from Ulladulla to become one of the most hotly tipped Sydney bands of 2012. New Navy’s mix of indie-rock and hi-life African rhythms might at first suggest that they’re Cloud Control’s younger brothers, but their Uluwatu EP shows a band beholden to no one – and we defy anyone to keep still during first single ‘Zimbabwe’

O is for Matt Okine

This year, Okine went from “outstanding local open-mic regular” to “rising star”. His solid stand-up show Being Black N Chicken N Shit is one reason. Another is his superbwebseries The Future Machine. “I’ve definitely stepped up my game this year,” he admits, and we comprehensively agree.

P is for Pop!

This summer we’ll be shaking it to guilty-but-great pop classics. You’ll be pleased to hear that Exclamation Point are back in their spiritual home, Time Out’s favourite late-night trannie bar, Taxi Club. And just in time for the hot and sticky months! Dig out your party clothes and keep an eye out for their bangin’ Taxi Club Confessions parties, where past themes have included Aaliyah: The 10-Year Tribute and all-out raunch fest Wicked Games. Frankly, partying to guilty pleasures at a venue offering tap beer for $3.20 a schooner ($2 for members) sounds pretty cool to us.

Q is for Quarantine Beach

A few bays along from tourist hive of Manly Beach is this sunny and deserted little spot. Punt in by boat and swim to shore. And if you hang around past sundown you might even find a ghost tour going down in the disused Quarantine Station.

R is for Red Threads

These little vintage stores marry op-shop goodwill with boutique merchandising, and raise Red Cross funds to boot. The first Red Threads store opened on King Street in Newtown last year, but a beautiful new boutique has just landed in Paddington. “People love the store because the fit-out is really interesting and the clothes are great,” explains Red Cross merchandise manager Olivia Cozzolino. “And then they find out it’s a Red Cross store and are really impressed.” The fitout is a sensory delight, with walls adorned in WWII Red Cross posters, clothes hanging on racks in colourways, and shoe-shelving made from second-hand books. Each item in the store has been carefully selected, like at the more high-end retro stores, but most still sit around the $15 mark. In fact, you can come out of Red Threads with a whole new outfit, accessories included, for a pineapple. “There are hardcore shoppers that love the challenge of finding gems in op shops, but many shoppers prefer to come into well merchandised stores with great fitouts,” explains Cozzolino. “We’ve done the hard work for our customers and only put out really high quality garments.”

S is for Sable & Argent

If you’re thinking of joining Sydney’s cycling revolution, this bike shop is a good place to start. And if you’re not convinced, then a peek at the cycling eyecandy behind the Sable & Argent roller door could well change your mind. The place also carries Spring Court sneakers, makes a mean brew and has a well stocked bookshelf for devouring during a retail rest.

T is for Tamarama Rock Surfers

Now running amok in two theatre spaces – Woolloomooloo’s Old Fitzroy and the Bondi Pavilion Theatre - Tamarama Rock Surfers are the go-to crew for indie theatre over summer. Until 17 Dec you’ll be wanting to check out The Horse’s Mouth, a festival of autobiographical performance.

U is for Unearthed

Triple J Unearthed has launched the careers of the Bumblebeez and Oh Mercy among others. What started as an unsigned band comp in 1995 became a standalone digital radio station in October and it’s your direct line to the next big thing. In fact, we’re cutting it to tunes by the Rubens, Only the Sea Slugs and the Ruminaters as we speak.

V is for Victor Churchill

If your handbag is Celine and your shoes are Dior it’s only natural that your meat should be Churchill. The brass-door handles at this boutique butchery are shaped like sausages and the front window features a different meat-themed installation every week. Inside, an entire wall is inlaid with Himalayan rock salt bricks where whole sides of cow dry age, and in the fridge rests every type of terrine imaginable. It’s all here: Wagyu beef ribs so marbled, they’re more fat than flesh; meat so dry aged it’s obscene. It’s not cheap, but you’re paying for quality and an unforgettable shopping experience.

W is for We Are Handsome

Indhra Chagoury and Jeremy Jules Somers design the kind of swimsuits that daydreams are made of – from their scooped-back panther one-pieces to the sun-drenched peacock bikini and the poppy-field landscape leotard. We want all of them.

X is for Xiao Long Bau at Din Tai Fung

Soup-filled dumplings: are there three sweeter words? At Din Tai Fung, silky, gossamer-thin dumpling skins hold a tiny mouthful of soup, so when you pick them up with chopsticks they wobble provocatively. Eating these pockets of lava-hot deliciousness can be perilous– pop the whole thing in your mouth and you’ll burn your cheeks; bite it the wrong way and you’ll cover the table in hot pork stock. Instead, take a delicate bite from the top, then drink the soup.

Y is for Yael Stone

She may be teeny-tiny, but this sparky young actress holds her own with giants of the Australian stage. Since graduating from NIDA five years ago, Yael Stone has had several main stage roles to her name and her performance in Griffi n’s The Kid earned her a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. But she got the role of a lifetime in 2010: she shaved her head, learnt to speak Finnish and starred with Geoffrey Rush in The Diary of a Madman. The show only had two weeks’ rehearsal time but it changed the course of Stone’s career when it played New York after its Sydney season. Back in Oz and having grown back her pixie crop, she’s starred in The Book of Everything, Aussie classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, and Lally Katz’s Golem Story in Melbourne. Next up, she appears in Belvoir’s season-closer, As You Like It. With Stone heading back for the glittering lights of NYC in 2012, it may be your last chance to catch her remarkable talent on a Sydney stage.

Z is for Zoo

Oh! My! God! Baby tigers! Three brand new baby tigers have just been born at Taronga, and if that’s not the perfect excuse to take the ferry over to Mosman for the day, we don’t know what is.

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First published on . Updated on .

By Erin Moy & Myffy Rigby   |  

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