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    Around the town: Thriving on different influences, materials and cultures

    Deborah Singerman

    The rooster has doodle-dooed across Sydney, on lampposts, street corners and roadsides. Metallic ones had their own patch within Chinatown, and the mossed, stone Robin Gibson Gallery in Darlinghurst, exhibited a colourful array strutting their stuff in ceramic, metal, wood, oil on paper and canvas.

    The most striking rooster, in the QVB’s Christmas tree-spot, was curated by Art Pharmacy. Over four metres tall, its metal framework was wrapped in fine fabrics and paper, with curtain from designer and maker Reso & Co, textile from artist Jeff McCann, and overall design from Maker Maker Creative. The rooster, it was hoped, showed its characteristics representing hard work, being respectful and talented.

    Sydney claims it holds the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations in the southern hemisphere outside Asia. While the City of Sydney and wider ranging councils such as Parramatta and Fairfield had their lion dances and other events so did most other state capitals and several regional cities with historical connections to Chinese communities.

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    Celebrations outside Customs House. Photography by Deborah Singerman

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    Tai chi in Spice Alley. Photography by Deborah Singerman

    Celebrations generally entwined buildings and parks. At Customs House dancers were dressed as zodiac signs in lurid lycra, with calm tai chi exponents who were the antithesis of more exuberant ones, dancing to what seemed like techno but with headphones on, in Spice Alley. Lanterns bedecked the eatery against background glimpses of Central Park’s vegetated wall. Meanwhile, the Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub featured a 50-metre canopy of red lanterns at Martin Place.

    The Chippendale Creative Precinct also had a medley of works by Australian-Asian artists including Jayanto Damanik Tan, a Chinese-Indonesian Australian whose ceramic bowls symbolise the boat his grandfather arrived on from China to Indonesia.

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    The Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub at Martin Place. Photography by Deborah Singerman

    INFLUENCES AT FESTIVALS AND BEYOND

    Influences come to the fore at festivals but a country like Australia, or as the Sydney Morning Herald’s columnist Harold Mitchell pointed out high-immigration Israel, “which produces more start-up companies than Japan, India, Korea, Canada and Britain combined”, is continually shaped and moulded by touch points for design and innovation.

    At Women in Design recently held by Poliform, Tanya Buchanan (Belle Magazine), Meryl Hare (Hare and Klein), Heidi Onisforou (Stephanie Property Development) and Megan Morton (The School) talked about projects, companies and designs that have affected them. Morton’s list was particularly impressive, spanning Paris-based creators of “singular objects” Tsé &Tsé Associées, antique wallpaper pioneer Suzanne Llipschutz, leading fashion editor Diana Vreeland, ceramicists Alana Wilson and Louise Bousquet, novelist and journalist Joan Didion, Marimekko fabric designer Maija Isola and American graphic designer Paula Scher.   

    The Political Personas Project into Australians' lifestyles, politics and social values was a joint project between Fairfax Media, the ANU's Social Research Centre and digital information analysts Kieskompas. It revealed seven types of Australians who represented our “most dominant patterns of thinking”. I completed the SMH’s invitation to find out what tribe I belonged to. Like many other women who live in the city it turns out I am an “activist egalitarian with social consciousness, wanting government intervention, society to be more equal, with more public investment, be socially progressive, have climate action, protection of Australian manufacturing, and for society to be more equitable”. So, you now know where I am coming from.

    Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing, proofing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community. @deborahsingerma; [email protected]

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