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Side Street Sydney was a writing project

Today is the last day we will be posting on Side Street, Sydney.
I cannot begin to describe how much this site has meant to be since I started it in September 2009. Oh wait – I just did. Alas, here lies the problem with clichés. The people I have met, the words that have so easily come out about them and the connections I have made are forever going to be some of my most treasured valuables. I feel blessed to have shook hands with so many people who continue to inspire the world around them every day.

The thing is, I feel like I a very different person than I was more than a year and a half ago when Side Street began, and, like a lot of relationships, I have grown apart from it. Back then, I was leaving my job in fashion PR (don’t ask) and was desperate to write again (but not work for someone else again), so I decided to bring the concept for Side Street, Sydney to life – an idea I had first conceived of years before on a plane somewhere above this fine country. In addition to writing, I wanted to prove that Sydney had more to offer than met the eye, and I wanted it to have a “you can do it, too” message to everyone brave enough to follow their dreams. I can only hope it achieved some of those things.

But the whole past couple years have been anything but stable, so the attention I was able to give to this project quickly began to break. Indeed, they have been chaotic, life changing, mentally challenging and completely overwhelming, and if I could give some advice to the girl who started this thing it would be to slowwwww the hell down, and then I’d promptly hand her a chocolate bar. In between starting another business, taking on WAY too much and subsequently exploding under pressure, dealing with the death of the magnificent woman who raised me, confronting my past and feeling intense loneliness as I began to realise just how many fake friendships I had, I completely lost the plot. What with the depression, the panic attacks and the suicidal tendencies, I’m a little surprised I didn’t blow my computer up.
I’m much better now.

The process of actually getting better though has involved really getting to the bottom of who I am and what I want, and accepting whatever growth that means. Changes have included taking Final Episode in a completely different direction (as it turns out, high fashion pisses me off), wearing flat shoes (heels are not in fact comfortable. Don’t let anyone fool you.), throwing certain people out of my life and making writing much more than a side project. Also, I must get another puppy. THEY ARE AMAZING. And, of course, I have realised that it’s okay to let go of Side Street, Sydney.

Plans are underway for another, national site, and although it will have a somewhat different editorial strategy, the core of Side Street’s mission will be in there – only this time, less hipster, more real. Also, I might like it to pay me just a little for all the work I do on it, as believe me, there is a lot of work and when you do a lot of work for free, you become a little bit ANNOYED. I simply never got around to seeking cash for it before (read: I HATE SEEKING CASH) but I am going to get someone on board who will. If you or the company you work for would like to come on board as a sponsor or advertiser, simply email me and I’ll send you all the details. You’ll also be guaranteed a spot in heaven, allegedly.

And of course, I have to give a major shout out to the people who I was able to boss around on this thing, particularly Kristen and Lisa, who have stuck with it from the beginning and have been truly remarkable to work with. Kristen, you are more beautiful than you could ever know, and I cannot thank you enough for your faith in me. And Lisa… what can I say? The fact that somebody as talented as you wanted to contribute to the site made ME believe in it. You are a brilliant photographer, and I am confident that the universe has big things in store for you.
Once again, thank you to all those who have allowed us to come over and speak to you and feature your work, we love you. But the biggest thank you goes to every single one of you who has read this site. If even just one story inspired you, then I can say with satisfaction that Side Street has accomplished its purpose.

If you want to keep in touch with me while I’m on my little break, you can email me, follow me on Twitter or read my personal blog. Yes, I have an addiction to creating websites and no I am not ashamed of it. If you want to follow news on the next site, it’s a little while away but we’ll be keeping everyone posted on our Twitter and our newsletter, which you can sign up to on the top right. We’d say Facebook but we started as a friend and reached our 5,000 limit and now we’re a page but really we’re just confused.

And finally, if you or someone you know is suffering from depression and anxiety, take it from me – things to do get better. In fact, they get so much better, and when you start to feel normal again, it’ll be a bit like skinny-dipping into a cold lake after a mountainous hike in 45 degrees. A mountainous hike where YOU WANTED TO KILL YOURSELF. The things that worked for me were talking about it, accepting it, writing about it, letting myself be angry, learning to work a LOT less, following my truth, living in the moment and petting my puppy. Those may or may not work for you, but I can guarantee something will. So please, call Beyond Blue or Lifeline and help yourself. You owe it to you. I promise.

Until next time, big virtual hugs,
Seema xx



words: Seema Duggal
photo: Lisa Zhu

A Place Called Heaven: Helm Bar's Cheese Nights

If heaven had a name other than heaven, I’m pretty sure it would be “Cheese”. And not just any cheese – the kind of cheese that’s EXPENSIVE and served with an accompanying glass of white. Sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it? Something you’d only get in… a place called heaven? Lucky for EVERYONE, you can actually also get it at a place called Helm Bar, which hosts incredible cheese and alcohol matching nights every month or so.


Creativity for Change: Make Believe

There is no doubt about it – creative talent is a gift, bestowed upon to a rare few individuals whose choice on what to do with it lies with them and them alone. It has the capacity to be a rather self-indulgent flair, but every so often, you’ll get a group of people who will band theirs together for a cause greater than each of them and all of them combined. This is exactly what it’s like at Make Believe, a creative agency that works explicitly with non-profits, social enterprises and (decent) political organisations. They impart their wisdom on communications strategy, campaigning, storytelling and branding to clients that include The Global Poverty Project, Amnesty International, the Greens Party and so many more, so long as they believe in the message they have been employed to interpret.

“You help in the way you know to help,” says co-director Lily McCombs. “We try not to be an agency but rather, an agent. We’re not driven by profit – we’re really trying to seek out work with people on things we are excited to work on. That’s what motivates us, and Make Believe is the vehicle that allows us to do that.”



Entertainment Philanthropy



We’re not exactly opposed to parting ways with our cash for a good cause on any given day, but when we’d part with that cash ANYWAY for entertainment purposes – such as oh, I don’t know, seeing a movie – AND the said cash is going to a good cause, it all seems too good to be true. But it’s not next Wednesday night, when our friends at Spark* are putting on a movie night at the Palace Verona Cinema to raise funds for their very necessary charity, which enables changemakers in the places where they are needed most. Their program is currently well underway in Papua New Guinea, where a group of young future leaders are being mentored to guide their communities out of poverty. The work that they do is truly remarkable, and you can read all about it once again right here, or check out their YouTube channel (we’ve posted their most recent clip above, which always manages to bring a tear to our inspired eyes).

Anyway, you can meet them (and US!), hear about their work firsthand, grab a complimentary glass of bubbly, snag a goodie bag and watch the new release Water for Elephants (which stars Reese Witherspoon and ROBERT PATTINSON), all the while knowing that your night of fun has a purpose greater than your night of fun. What could be better during a night of fun? The correct answer is nothing.

Tickets are just $28 and can be purchased by clicking this text we've linked
.
We're so smart. See you Wednesday night!

Blog to Book: Kerri Sackville


This is Kerri Sackville.
You are late to the party if you’ve not heard of her, and I pity you. But that’s okay – you can make up for it by reading her new part-memoir, part-guide to family life; When My Husband Does the Dishes, which will be released on Monday, May 2. And I pinkie promise – you will laugh out loud and possibly wee yourself if you use TENA Lady.

Kerri is witty, charming, honest, and best of all, fluent in sarcasm: the fairest and cleverest language of them all. Her writing has appeared in SMH, The Age, The Telegraph, and pretty much everything else, and she is a regular contributor to Mamamia.
Kerri started freelancing after becoming a mum in 2001. She popped on to Twitter and her blog, Life and Other Crises, in 2009, following writer’s block after the death of her sister. She has written her heart out ever since, encouraged by her followers every step of the way (and she rightly has a ton of them). It’s also pretty clear that she’s a MILF.

Because I’m a fan of hard-hitting journalism, I asked Kerri the following questions after storming her home and shining a bright light in her face. Not really, but that was great for dramatic effect.

Sneaker Freak: I Dig Your Sole Man

There are a plethora of street style fashion blogs out there, but after you click on one after the other you kind of tend to get the picture that all they really look for are socialites in expensive outfits. They can tend to get rather monotonous, and oh so occasionally, obnoxious. Which is why we get a little excited when one comes around with a point of difference, particularly if it's home grown and awesome. This is precisely the case with I Dig Your Sole Man, a photo project devoted to telling the stories of people who wear cool sneakers. That doesn't make it sound like much, but then when you visit the site and realise that the photos are amazing and the style is completely unique, you can't help but come back for more, as you would do with all awesome things. We chatted to the man behind the concept about, er, the concept, and why he decided to be different. Then we thanked him and gave him a cookie.


For Every Family: Relay for Life


I’ve never been much of a joiner or activist or raiser of funds. I have always found it hard to connect with the needs of the ‘greater community’, but when it comes to the small & personal, I have always been the gal you can count on. When my friends are sick, I’m the one who makes sure they’ve got enough home-cooked dinners in the freezer to last a couple of weeks. When someone I care about is in dire financial need, I’ll happily give them a guilt-free gift to see them through the rough spot. These are situations I have been able to see and therefore, empathise with. Your ‘big breakfasts’ and your ‘red noses’ et al, are all very noble and worthy, but I have found it hard to muster up enough… whatever it is… that is needed to participate.
Until I got a wee smack in the face. Followed up by a good wallop to the head.

Emerging Exposure: 100 Squared

Every so often a retail experience comes around that endeavours to transcend mere moneymaking for something with a little more purpose behind it. This is exactly the case with the new city Westfield’s 100 Squared, a fixed marketplace for today’s emerging designers. Providing them with a flagship-type retail space in an area that boasts huge traffic, 100 Squared gives said designers a means to transgress the flurry of stockists and agents and sell direct to the public. The designers rotate every six months, giving plenty of fresh ideas a chance to take part in the concept.

100 Squared was founded by Sydney entrepreneur Justin Levy, who explains that the concept's measure of success is “to have an emerging designer come to us and leave us as an established designer.” By scouring the city’s markets, studios, fashion runways, and schools, Justin eventually sources fresh talent and asks them to submit their range or plans for the space. “The final selection is based on uniqueness, quality, commerciality and their future business goals,” he says. Benefiting from Westfield’s huge consumer market and exposure is an obvious bonus, but Justin stresses that it is the knowledge that the designers gain through the experience that benefits them the most, such as how to communicate on a daily basis with a large customer base, how to retail in a fast paced environment and develop staff.” As for where 100 Squared fits in with the world of retail, Justin puts it simply: “we offer customers a more intimate experience with direct access to the makers of the garments they are buying, as compared to the young sales assistants that are just trying to meet there sales targets in traditional retail stores. Most importantly, we maintain the discovery essence of a market where a piece of fashion you buy now could be from a designer that may just be the next big thing…”


We profile three of these “next biggest things”, who you can purchase over at 100 Squared today.


The Voice


The voice has a proposal
I would like to propose, he says, tenaciously
That there is,
No past, no future,
Only the present moment.

It’s difficult to argue with The Voice,
Because you’re the one who got
Him talking in the first place
When you realised that the anchor
Near your lungs, sinking, expanding,
Gathering tremendous weight and speed,
Wasn’t your body malfunctioning,
But your head.

For the Love of Sydney Light



photo: Lisa Zhu

Art, Not Rhyme: This Little Teapot

This little teapot went to market, this little teapot stayed home, this little teapot had roast beef…. Wait a minute, that isn’t right! I’m mixing my nursery rhymes. It doesn’t matter really because This Little Teapot is not just a silly rhyme; it is also the theme for an exhibition by a group of local artists, i.e. literal teapots. The exhibition’s curator, participant and all-round megamind is Side Street, Sydney favourite Rebecca Murphy. The beautiful Burnt Feather, aka Fee Harding, is also taking part in this group ode to tea, along with many others such as Bec Winnel, Caitlin Shearer, Emma Kidd, Matthew Roland, Qwux, Tabitha Emma and TEZ. Rebecca and Burnt Feather kindly chatted to Side Street, Sydney about the exhibition, embracing melancholy, tattoos and accessories.

Rebecca Murphy

Sidewalk Dreams: Streets of Sydney

Every so often we get sent a press release that is just so US, which is exactly what happened when we got sent information on an exhibition entitled Streets of Sydney. I know, right? It was as though they named it in HONOUR of us, or something. As the winner of the Dead Space Living Artists competition via Higher Learning, Luke Williams got the chance to transform the entire General Pants Bondi Junction store into a living installation of his work inspired by Sydney's streets (side streets are of course included). Talk about ego satisfaction. It's clearly Luke's moment to shine, as the judging panel loved what he had done so much that they soon offered him a job as an in-house designer with General Pants. It's all been made possible by the team at Higher Learning, and you should know by now that "dream come true" stories make us feel ridiculously fuzzy inside. Yes, we are corny and enjoy wearing UGG boots. That is not entirely relevant but GOD they are comfy.

All of the artworks have been available for purchase via a silent auction, with all proceeds being donated to Oasis, a great Sydney charity for youth in trouble.

This Thursday evening, everyone is invited to view the artworks, place a bid on the pieces, celebrate dreams and cool charities and share a beverage at the project's closing exhibition party at Lo-Fi Gallery in Darlinghurst. It's on from 6pm and Lo-Fi is located at 383 Bourke St. Go and get FUZZY.

Food Orgasm: Aperitivo

If Australia and Italy decided to get married, they would throw the reception at Leichardt’s Aperitivo, a modern wine, tapas and pizza bar that makes a fabulously standout addition to the delectable Norton Street. This is where you will find Italy in the 21st century, complete with a modern, minimalist décor and a friendly young Italian-blooded owner, who does a mighty fine job of embodying the hospitable charm of Italian grandmothers everywhere.

After spending eight years in the IT industry (with frequent trips to the motherland) Giuseppe Zagari followed his passion for drinking and eating, Italian-style, and brought it with him to Aperitivo, a term that actually stands for the popular Italian tradition of sharing small plates with friends. And just as it is in the country the custom is famous in, the experience is relaxed, casual and unassuming – you can well and truly leave the pretention with the hipsters in Surry Hills. I mean, at the front door.


The Relationship Oracle

I got married young. I’m still the only one of my friends that is married. My husband andI not only love each other, but we really LIKE each other too. I’m also an opinionated know-it-all with a heart of gold. This has turned me into the relationship oracle with my friends. So I figure, why not share these bounteous pearls of wisdom with the world?


Everyone says communication is key. Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean? What it definitely does NOT mean is telling your significant other about your every emotion as you have them. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about knowing when to talk and when to just shut the bollocks up. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean it helps you, him/her or the relationship to say so. Same goes with ‘feelings’. Pick your moments and pick the stuff that actually matters. The rest is just noise that will get in the way.

Words with a Cause: Fault Lines

It may not be glaring in headlines anymore, but the earthquake crises in Japan and New Zealand are still very much current affairs for the people whose lives they shook – literally and figuratively – a few weeks ago. The outpouring of support from great artists across the world has been truly inspiring, and on home soil, we've had our fair share as well – but by far my favourite initiative would have to be Fault Lines, an eBook featuring some of Australia's best up and coming writers.

One of said writers is actually one of my best friends and former colleagues, the über-talented Rick Morton, who made me very happy by landing a job as news editor at Mamamia and moving down to Sydney Town a few weeks ago. I tell you this because in the Q&A below, he responded to the "where do you write?" question by explaining where, physically, he likes to write. We enjoy writing on the couch too, Rick!

Why do write and where do you write?

I write because I do as I am told. And something, though I am not sure what, tells me I need to write. It's almost a primal thing. That sounds absurd, I know. But there is a little tingly spidey-sense somewhere deep within me that tells me to write and smacks me when I don't. So I do what I'm told. I also happen to love writing. I like playing with words. Shoving them. Twirling them. Tweaking them. Stretching them. Pulling sentences along with pace and rhythm. It's the best fun. I'd do it just for myself, but it's always a bonus when people read it. A bigger bonus if they like it. If they don't, that's fine too. Sometimes. Where do I write? Anywhere. On the couch. At a desk when I'm working. I carry little notebooks around with me to jot down ideas when they come to me because I think it's fun, but more often than not I just end up writing the ideas down on my phone because I left the cool little notebooks at home. I'm together like that.

Tell us about this book. Who/What/Where/When/Why?

The book is about nature. It's as broad as one wants to take it because, ultimately, everything is natural. Even something man made is made from materials that we found on this planet. There's no escaping it. Particularly if you live in Japan or Christchurch, New Zealand right now. Writer and advertising/marketing guru Matt Granfield came up with the idea of giving something back to people if they donated $10 to the Red Cross. People like to donate to help, but this way they could have an eBook with some great writing in it as well.
My piece is about natural disasters and why we feel the need to name them. Or personify them, more to the point. It starts from my first memory of a major flood which tore a friend's house from its foundation and discusses my feelings as a child who knew nothing of how the world worked. Or why we needed to name a cyclone. The book can be downloaded here: www.faultlines.info and includes the works of writers like my favourites Clementine Ford and Matt himself. It's a seriously engaging read.

Congratulations on being awesome.
Thanks! I'm just reflecting the glow of those closest to me :)

To read the book, all you have to do is donate $10 to the Red Cross and then download it from the site. It's kind of like an honesty system but this time, the people who don't donate and instead download for free actually go to hell.

Happy reading & being a good person!




words: Seema Duggal

With a Grandmother's Touch: Song for the Mute

Song For The Mute have just won the Designer Award at the L’oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, which provides an opportunity for labels in their first five years of business to become established in the industry. Past recipients include Romance Was Born, Josh Goot, Dion Lee and many more so we won’t be surprised if designers Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty see the same successes. With their directional and conceptual take on menswear, they make a fine addition to Australia’s small but important menswear landscape.

“We were not expecting it at all. We’re still pinching ourselves over it!” says the designers of their recent award. Their win was an anomaly in that it was their first ever runway presentation, and also that Song For The Mute is the first menswear label to take out the title. With the $10,000 prize money, half has been set aside for a new studio in the city and the other half for fabric. “We're in the beginning process of designing our SS12 range and this prize money gives us the opportunity to experiment with fabrics that require a certain minimum to produce. We’re so excited!”



The Final Episode Zine

Back in September when I was launching Final Episode, I was also slowly losing my mind, and the little zine Cristina Mackay-Sim of Canvas Group and I created to go with the store's packaging both reflected this madness and allowed me to cling softly on to whatever sanity I had remaining. There was not much. Anyway, the incredibly talented Cristina did an exceptional job with the zine's design, and the poetry I wrote for it was pretty dark and twisted, so I'd like to share it with all of you. The front and back covers of the zine consist of some mighty fine illustrative work and a manifesto of the Final Episode woman, who, as it turns out, is beautiful and evil and kind of terrifying. It opens into a series of "last lines" from the final episodes of television shows past, and then flips to a scene from a dark and moody Los Angeles, where another poem is weaved through an old movie-time marquee. When you open THAT fold the zine turns into a pretty crazy Jonathan Zawada print that you can hang on your wall and stare at when you're on LSD.

You can ALWAYS purchase something from the store and get a hard copy for yo'self. Just thought I should point that out - especially seeing as this week you can get 15% off your entire order by simply entering promo code "autumn09X7". It's case sensitive and it's super special.
Okay, self-promotion done. I hope you enjoy! xx

At the Zoo




photos: Lisa Zhu

Candles & Horses: Earth Hour


Remember the good ole days, when people used candles instead of light bulbs and rode horses and wore Victorian gowns and said things like, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"?
Yah, we didn't live through those days either, and we suppose anyone under the age of 150 hasn't. It's sad.
Well aside from being totally awesomely good for the environment (clearly our vernacular more resembles Wayne's World than Gone with the Wind), tomorrow is Earth Hour - a time when we can all pretend that we live in an age that may not have adequate plumbing but DOES require us to RIDE AN ADORABLE ANIMAL to get from point A to point B. We think we would all agree where the scales tip on this one.
Earth hour starts at 8.30pm but instead of amping the voltage at 9.30, we say make a thing of it and go all night. Grab some candles (gorgeous Surry Hills store I Ran the Wrong Way has a lovely selection especially for the occasion) and cook some dinner and turn on the radio and TALK to one another, rather than watch TV. You can even rent a Victorian gown and, if you have some spare change, a horse. If you do the latter please invite us along too. WE GAVE YOU THE IDEA, AFTER ALL.
No one would argue against the fact that the technological advances over the past century have made life a hell of a lot easier, but in our eyes, the best things in life are always in the basics - and Earth Hour gives us the perfect opportunity to spend an evening among them.

Pop Plus Funny: Phebe Starr


Phebe Starr is the new kid on the pretty pop block with a sound that is, as she describes it, “Björk meets The Cure meets Supertramp”. Influenced by the craziness of Japan’s J-Pop scene, the charming and effervescent Phebe takes mainlines some pop fizz into that oh so self-aware singer-songwriter genre. Her first EP, Pink Lemonade will be released on Friday. We spoke to Phebe to get the skinny on the release and life as a musician.

Day Dreaming: Marlaina Read

Every Easter my family would pack our stinky Kombi full of Care Bears and Cabbage Patch dolls and make the yearly pilgrimage down south to camp beneath a canopy of trees. While the ubiquitous family photos contain ample comedic relief - bathing in garbage bins was de rigueur, apparently - what strikes me is the internal jolt I experience upon viewing the surrounding landscape. There’s something about them trees that sets my synapses aflutter.

Marlaina Read hopes to elicit exactly this response from her upcoming exhibition Do you have a recurring dreamspace? Can you describe it to me? Encompassing the breadth of work undertaken for her Masters of Fine Art, Read explores the sensations of pause and delay in viewing still images and the mnemonic possibilities created by examining landscapes. We sat down with Marlaina on the eve of her solo exhibition to find out what makes this Sydney based photographer tick.


To Japan, with Love from Sydney


This week has been a pretty insane one for us at SSS, but throughout the race of meetings and appointments and interviews and toilet trips, one thing has remained consistently on our minds - Japan. We may be word people, but this tragedy has rendered us speechless; there is absolutely nothing we can say that will even remotely convey the huge sense of remorse we are feeling for the country. And so instead of writing an essay about how f'd up the state of the world is (making our audience suicidal is not in our mission statement), we thought we'd do something a little more productive: provide a few links to charities who are doing amazing work in Japan right now. It is so easy to feel like this situation is completely above us and out of our power to change, but we honestly believe that our thoughts and love and donations will transcend the pacific from Sydney to Japan and make a bit of a difference. So please, give to one of the initiatives below and hold Japan in your hearts through the coming weeks and months.

Médecins Sans Frontières
Doctors Without Borders has sent medical teams to Japan in the wake of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, and they are currently helping out in the areas in Japan which have been up until now very difficult to access by road, mainly due to debris piled up from the Tsunami. They are continuing to search for small communities that are still in need of medical assistance.

Mercy Corps Japan
Mercy Corps has teamed up with Japanese organisation Peace Winds to delivery emergency supplies to some of the thousands of families who are currently homeless and in need of food, blankets (given the sub-zero temperatures, these are crucial) and temporary shelter in the tsunami-devastated city of Kesennuma.

Animal Refuge Kansai
Those of you who have seen the photos and video footage of the animals who have been victims of this disaster can grasp just how epic this tragedy has been for all creatures. Animal Refuge Kansai is a Japan-based animal welfare organisation that is currently working hard to rescue the furry friends who are now homeless and in danger.

Red Cross
Red Cross is like the celebrity charity for the Japan relief, and with good reason, too. Because it is one of the world's largest charities, it has a lot of resources and is therefore able to help in a significant way. The Red Cross is currently using donations to provide emergency equipment and aid workers to the devastated regions.

If you know of any other amazing organisations working on the ground in Japan, any auctions for relief or any other fundraisers please link us to them in the comments below.

Art and Friends: Jodee Knowles' Independent of Time


I have a god awful confession to make - I was going to write a story on Friends of Leon Gallery today but I lost the interview notes. WRITER'S FAIL. I will do my utmost to find these notes and thereby salvage myself, but I didn't want to miss the chance to highlight a beautiful exhibition on tonight - Perth artist Jodee Knowles is back at the space after her debut sell-out show last year. This exhibition, entitled Independent of Time, examines the confines of time and its relation to the human experience. It is one of those philosophical subjects that has the ability to both thrill and torment us, and Jodee's work examines what happens when we revolve our entire existence around it. Her style is reminiscent of Tim Burton but with a feminist twist, and she uses just the right amount of colour to punctuate the psyche through grey scenes of despair, loneliness and confusion.

Jodee is one of a select few artists that curator Leon Krasenstein has taken under his wing. A set and costume designer by trade, Leon's foray into the gallery world has been brought on by a passion for collaboration and hand picked aesthetic arrangements. He works with the artists who exhibit at Friends of Leon from inception of their idea to the execution of its placement in his space, often developing close relationships with them along the way. But owning a gallery doesn't end with the artists; Leon is determined to turn the venue into a neighbourhood gathering point of sorts, and he encourages everyone in the area to come, spark up conversations and enjoy beautiful art together - and hopefully get to know one another's names in the process. Indeed, Friends of Leon has been a catalyst for doing just that, which will hopefully soon extend past the Surry Hills street it is situated in.

Independent of Time opens tonight at 82 Marlborough Street in Surry Hills from 6pm to 8pm, and the exhibition is on through March 31st.


words: Seema Duggal

Movie Giveaway!: Griff the Invisible



It’s impossible to discuss new Aussie film Griff the Invisible without mentioning Hollywood’s Kick-Ass from last year. Okay yes, it’s a film about an ordinary dude being a superhero much like Kick-Ass, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Where Kick-Ass was fierce and comicky, Griff is charming, quirky and romantic. It’s a gentle story that touches on mental illness and the belief that love is possible for everyone, not just the “normal”. OH THANK GOD.

The titular character, Griff, is deftly played by Ryan Kwanten of the buff-chested True Blood fame (and Home & Away, apparently). Unlike the deliciously over-the-top extremes of True Blood, here Kwanten is serious, subtle and honest. Kwanten’s Griff falls head over heels for the equally maladjusted Melody (Maeve Dermody) and they become partners in crime. Literally, I suppose.

Griff the Invisible is entirely wonderful and well worth your 17 bucks (or whatever a movie costs these days). Or, if you’re quick, we have 10 in-season double passes to give away. Simply email us at giveaways@sidestreetsydney.com.au explaining your most obtrusive neurosis by this Friday, March 18.

Griff the Invisible is in cinemas from Thursday.


words: Kristen Hodges

Hi Tech Sky



photo: Lisa Zhu

The Blank Slate: Colab

Rumour has it that two minds are better than one, and Sydney eyewear label Colab has based their entire ethos around this very simple but true principle. Colab’s creative directors Carl, Pete and Jono have essentially used their label as a “blank slate” so that creative contributors from all fields and locations can realise their visions through the medium of sunglasses design.

Art with a Message: Suburban Refuge

The term "refugee" has had contentious undertones ever since it was introduced into society, and it represents an issue that has the power to divide or unite the opinionated everywhere. Needless to say, it is also an issue that is shrouded in misunderstanding and blatant ignorance, particularly among those who use the phrase "boat people" to describe refugees (and often go on to insist that they are the ruin of Australia and multiculturalism is a bad thing before sitting back and ordering Thai takeout). We could make an argument for why such reasoning must equate to a brain defect, but instead, we'll point you in the direction of an article that does so rather eloquently and turn our focus to an art project that is aiming to shine a light on the reality of what it is like to be a refugee in a different (non-argumentative) way.

Suburban Refuge is a UTS student design project by Dinalie Dabarera and Liz Broekhuyse that encourages support for refugees by highlighting them as human beings rather than political entities. The ladies scattered nearly a hundred small wooden boats around Sydney suburbs and placed an individual story of a refugee who settled here inside each of them. Armed with a note that urged "take me home" along with an explanation of the project, passerbys were encouraged to pick the boat up and make a place for it within their own home, "an act which mirrors our capacity as Australians to invite asylum seekers into our country, and take joy instead of insult in their peaceful settlement into our communities." We asked the ladies about the origin behind their clever concept and what they hope it achieves.


Change the Future: Spark* in Action

You may remember our story on Spark* in October of last year, and if you don't then now would be a good time to revisit it, as the dynamic new charity has just come back from the first round of its leadership program in PNG. If you're too lazy to read the full article again (we forgive you ONLY because it's Friday), Spark* partners with local universities to identify youth leaders in impoverished regions of the world who have the power to influence change in their community, and they mentor them to bring that change about in a systematic, productive and culturally relevant way. Their first leadership summit was a few weeks ago, and to prove how awesome this whole idea is, we're posting the video on it below.
Sydney, meet the future of the Third World.



Help spread the word and be part of this future by sharing the concept with your friends, liking Spark* on Facebook and if you have some spare change that you'd REALLY like to get mileage with, by becoming a monthly supporter.

Childhood Fantasies: Jurrasic Lounge


Put ‘after work drinks’ and ‘school excursion gone awry’ in the same daydream and the image that springs to mind is likely to be a fuzzy vodka-infused scene from an episode of The Magic School Bus. If that sounds amazing to you, too, then you’ll agree that the Australian Museum’s Jurassic Lounge is the place where adult versions of childhood fantasies come true.

Festival Time is the Best Time


Sometimes, we just want to run around the streets dripping with glitter and rainbows (and boas and blue lipstick) and dance to the music in our heads and act like overall lunatics in the pursuit of pure, hedonistic idiocy. DON'T EVEN TELL US YOU HAVEN'T HAD SIMILAR DREAMS. It isn't often when we can do the above without being committed, which is why this time of year tends to be one of our favourites - a final, neon-streaked hurrah to mark the end of summer and the silly season that was during Sydney's most famous festival of them all: Mardi Gras. There have been many events going on during the past few weeks in the lead up to this Saturday's parade on Oxford Street, and while we could list them out for you, we don't have the time or the will. After all, we have to go score ourselves a few milk crates and some red wigs. We will, however, point out the Imperial Panda Festival, which begins this Friday and lasts until March 20.

The festival's home base will be GOODGOD, which will play host to seven new performance works, two visual arts shows, workshops, swap meets, collected works nights, free talks, bands and our favourite: DANCING. There will be more than 100 creatives taking part, and all profits from the tickets go straight to the hands of the visionaries. More info can be seen here.

From our gay pride to yours, we wish you a fantastically hilarious Mardi Gras.


photo by New Mardi Gras

Our Sydney Summer




photos: Lisa Zhu

Cool and Brooding: The Eathouse Diner


Whilst all the wholesome, handsome and swell kids from Rydell High were busy carrying on about how they went together like ramma lamma dinga dong at their neat and tidy little diners, The Eathouse must have been where the cool, broody and misunderstood kids were hiding.

The Eathouse Diner
pays homage to the all American diners from the 50s but with some unique twists – from the giant bird mural on the feature wall to the quirky vintage bric-a-brac. The music provides the perfect rock and roll soundtrack and the place has been styled so well that you’d be forgiven for assuming the tunes are coming from an old jukebox somewhere in the back corner rather than an iPod.

Eloquence

We were eloquent once
Before we found each other
Exactly where we had been left
And forgot how to speak.

For a long time
We had traded words that meant other words
That meant different things that meant
‘I adore you.’

Unconventional Dimensions: Magdalena Velevska

She may be Macedonia-born, but Magdalena Velevska makes a fine addition to the Australian fashion industry and Sydney’s local design scene. Her latest collection, Dovetail, takes its inspiration from the traditions of Native American Indian quilt making. Side Street, Sydney had the chance to catch up with the designer amidst preparation for a big show at this year’s fast-approaching Rosemount Australia Fashion Week.

Since childhood, Magdalena has been immersed in creativity. Her mother an architect and father a musician, Magdalena's interest and inquiry into the arts was fostered from an early age. “I had piano lessons from the age of five and I later sang and did ballet and jazz. I was always drawing and I made my first shirt when I was nine years old,” she reflects. Born in Macedonia, Magdalena and her family migrated to Australia when she was 11. “The move gave me a sense of maturity from a very early age,” she says. “It also made me driven and highly ambitious" - two qualities that are integral to success in the fashion industry.


Love in the Name of Design

Oh my goodness look at us! We're all fresh and new, much like a very cute baby animal.

So if you have been paying attention to our schizo-site of late, you may have noticed that we have a very short attention span and like to shake things up a little rather often. We had been getting itchy feet with our Georgia-centric identity for a while, so in between deciding what to do we did nothing at all. It turned out to be rather unproductive. Thankfully, our lovely designy friend Thembi Hanify soon came to the rescue when she offered to redo our identity, and we couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. To celebrate the commercial-tastic holiday that it is, today it's centered around Valentines Day, because Google shouldn't be the only ones who are allowed to have an ever-evolving masthead. We may not be as important as them, but we consider ourselves as cool. Nevermind what anyone else thinks.

In the meantime, you should continue procrastinating by checking out Thembstar's many other projects, which include a magazine (Monster & Midget), illustration and a collaborative venture with this site's editor, Final Version. Right now she's based in Brooklyn, New York, where she is making us very jealous and also working for a studio that can list the likes of Stella McCartney as a client. Thembi's one busy, talented lady, and we appreciate her very much.

So our Valentines Day message is this: even if you don't have a significant other, use this Hallmark excuse to celebrate ALL the love in your life - your beatiful friends, eye candy design and, above all, cute baby animals.

Monster & Midget magazine, issue 2

a personal drawing

packaging for Brisbane band Emerald

By The Tree



photo: Lisa Zhu

Face to Face: Wok+Wine

The fact that we live in a rapidly evolving digital world is a fact that cannot be escaped (or ignored, for that matter) but the reality that social networking is now a term synonmyous with Facebook instead of face-to-face interaction can be a little depressing. Gone are the bars where everybody knows your name, the neighbours we borrow sugar from and the strangers we share smiles with in the elevator. They’ve been swapped for fan pages, online grocery shopping with express delivery and iPhone applications – the modern world’s best cushion against eye contact. The point of all this banter is to say that while we’re a fundamentally online publication, we believe that “online” communities are not the same as “real” communities, and we’re big fans of the latter. And so when Wok+Wine emailed us with their concept and told us they were coming to Sydney, we got seriously excited.

In a nutshell, Wok+Wine gets “40 random people, 40 bottles of good wine, 40 pounds of jumbo prawns (heads and shells on), throws them in a big wok and then serves them up at one communal table with no chairs, plates or knives and forks.” The strangers are then enticed to chat and connect and eat and drink and get a little dirty in a fabulously arranged social setting. It started in New York City just one year ago, but today Wok+Wine has catered to 2000 people from more than 20 cities across nine countries – and they’ll be in Sydney next week. We threw a few FAQs to the brains behind the concept, Peter Mandeno and Lizzie Shupak.


One of Ours: From Elsewhere

It’s been nearly 18 months since Side Street, Sydney first started, and if we’re going to be honest, the talent that has so willingly and generously contributed to this site has struck us with awe. We had no idea it was POSSIBLE to be so special. Of course, the only reason we’re special is because of said writers and photographers, who make up a rather talented bunch of of people. They have countless other side projects, they write for many glorious other publications and they’re all seriously good looking.

So of course we could not be more thrilled when one of them goes ahead and gets herself a solo exhibition, which opens today at Tap Gallery. The lovely Liz Schaffer – also known as our theatre aficionado – is a woman of many talents, apparently, both across the written word and photography. Her exhibition is entitled From Elsewhere and features 25 photographs taken across the world over the past 18 months. Highlighting a devotion to travel and foreign cultures, the images “capture intimate meetings between strangers, the details hidden within the world's largest cities, private moments and sights that simply make us feel small.” It will be on from today through to February 13, with a launch on Wednesday from 6pm to 9pm. We hope you'll join us in giving her an applaud (and a well-deserved alcoholic beverage).



Retro Splashes: The Diana World Tour

One of the highlights of photographic culture in recent years has got to be the resurgence of lomography and its vintage aesthetic, both of which are exemplified by the iconic Diana cameras. Producing vignettes with retro splashes of colour, the plastic bodies of film have the capacity to make certain scenes appear much cooler than they actually are - and because they lack the realistic-to-the-pore element of digital cameras, they make people appear better looking, too. Plus, they're pretty.

Naturally, we're stoked that there is about to be an exhibition devoted fully to the awesomeness of Diana, which opens tonight at Blender Gallery. Complete with 100 vintage clone cameras from the 60s and 70s, a collection of Diana images PLUS an exhibition featuring 25 cameras customised by some of Australia and New Zealand's most amazing artists and illustrators, there is a whole lot of lomographic goodness to feast on. The best part is of course that each of the 25 cameras is going to be auctioned off to raise money for charities seethroughme, a creative project for children in need, and World Child Cancer. Staying true to the theme, the exhibition will also feature a series of workshops so that people who own Dianas can know what to do with Dianas. Sydney creatives Kym Ellery, Shane Sakkeus and Greedy Hen (pictured below) contributed to the goodness, and the results speak for themselves. If you would like us to speak for the results, well... we like them very much.




The Diana World Tour exhibition opens tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Blender and runs until February 19.

Flowing Words: The State Library of NSW

The sandstone, the history, the free lockers... there is plenty to love about the NSW State Library. For the literary minded, the state’s official book and reference depository on Macquarie Street is a true beacon in Sydney. This is especially true to those who write – while they may come for the books, they soon discover that the ambience inspires words to flow just like they have in everything that surrounds them.


A Little Beyond Sydney...

If you happen to follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you would know that the recent flooding in Queensland kind of made us cry a little. We know we're all Sydney-this and Sydney-that, but truth be told, we love this whole gosh darn country, and if we had the time we'd devote a whole site to loving it (actually, we will be... watch this space, smiley FACE.). For the time being, we're doing what we can from here to help, and so we're very excited to reveal some very exciting plans that may well make you wee your pants. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

On March 17, we're going to holding a pretty awesome event at the Oxford Arts Factory, which is going to combine art and music and all around goodness to raise funds for those affected by the flood. Further details will be disclosed shortly (we like being mysterious, in case you hadn't guessed) but please mark the date in your very busy and important schedule.

ALSO, Final Episode chooses a different charity to donate proceeds to every month, and for January, we had chosen the RSPCA, mainly because we love animals to a kind of psychotic extent. Anyway, the floods happened and it was very sad, and then when we saw some images of little furry creatures being swept away, we went searching for a rock under which to hide ourselves for the rest of eternity. We didn't find one, which ended up being a good thing, as we discovered that we could give part of our proceeds to the RSPCA Queensland Flood Appeal. And so buying earrings has never been so beneficial to all of animal-kind. January is almost over, so we've decided to extend our donation to the RSPCA for throughout February, too. Hey, there are two causes! ANIMAL WELFARE AND A FLOOD! Please don't make us cry again.

GO SHOPPING. Woof woof.

Animal Planet (A Reminder): Bridge Stehli

Those who do the Sydney group show rounds have almost certainly come across the work of Bridge Stehli, and once one piece is viewed the rest become immediately iconic. Portraying animals in hilarious human social settings – two wealthy buffaloes demonstrating the social discomfort between the new and old upper classes, a murderous red fox attempting to wash away his crime, and an all too realistic depiction of a flamboyant socialite in giraffe form – the common sentiment that lies underneath the acrylic paint and timber is a truly soulful connection to all living things. Although simultaneously quirky and adorable, when Bridge explains the context from where her work originates she subtly underlines a deep warmth within her. It is one that has remained with her since childhood; the profound ability to bond and empathise with creatures who all too often get demoted within the hierarchy of a human-centric society. She expresses such sentiment through art that often explores and comments upon the at times callous effect maturity can have on the human spirit. Indeed, her work is not so much nostalgic of her childhood but rather, never left it. The innocent curiosity inherent within children is a characteristic Bridge still proudly flaunts, and in turn refuses to conform to the jaded, untouchable sense of superiority so many seem to garnish their outlook with as soon as they transition into adulthood.

Sir Hubert 'The Unworthy' meets Lord Cuthbert 'The Privileged' (The battle of new money vs. old money)

It's all about the Perspective




photos: Lisa Zhu

Justice in a Beer Glass: The Courthouse Hotel


Affectionately known by the locals as “The Courty”, the popular Courthouse Hotel pub in Newtown flies the non-conformist flag in the face of the increasing minimalist chic that is creeping into pubs everywhere. Here we have an unpretentious, authentic establishment that proudly waves its Aussie pride on behalf of all the punters.

 
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