Art Gallery of NSW’s Local Rhythms and Actions Invites Neighbors

Until early this year, Sarah Samuels hadn’t set foot in the Art Gallery of New South Wales – despite living just a stone’s throw away.

“It sounds crazy because I live across the road,” she says. “It wasn’t something I thought I would enjoy. I thought it was boring.”

Now, after participating in an innovative project called Local rhythms and actionsthe 29-year-old Woolloomooloo resident can’t get enough of the place.

Sarah Samuels and Maya Sheridan-Martinez with Reko Rennie's No sleep till Dreamtime.

Sarah Samuels and Maya Sheridan-Martinez with Reko Rennie’s No sleep until Dreamtime.Credit:Anna Kucera

“My whole view of art has changed,” she says. “Everything about the art gallery is just amazing. It’s not just the art in it, it’s what it does to you. You can view works of art and they take you back in time. I didn’t know I would feel this way if I was in an art gallery.”

At the beginning of the year, the gallery appealed to residents of Woolloomooloo to co-curate an exhibition about their community. Eleven people answered the call and attended a series of workshops to select the works to be included. They also got a behind-the-scenes look at how the gallery functions as a leading art institution.

The result is a refreshingly eclectic exhibition with paintings, prints, photographs, video installations and sculptures by the likes of Reko Rennie, Shaun Gladwell and Jeff Koons.

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The project was coordinated by Jonathan Wilson, the gallery’s music and community curator, who helped lead the workshops along with Nick Yelverton.

“It was a lot of roundtables, where we as a group decided what we were looking for and then we tried to find those important themes,” he says. “Themes came up whether it was sports, music, culture, street art, indigenous words or prominent indigenous works and then we just went looking together.”

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