Because there is a fair bit to do before taking four days away we spent last Thursday quietly at home with Ella instead of our usual busy agenda of visiting playgrounds and the Fyshwick Markets and creating art. I was amazed at the length of time she is able to focus now on more complex, imaginative play. We spent over an hour creating a little home for one of her Duplo figures (unfortunately a boy Duplo figure) out of a shoe box - complete with (play doh) table, chair, TV set, strawberry cakes and apples, and rugs on the floor!
This time our four days in Sydney had a strong arts focus. We checked out the classy Sabbia Gallery http://www.sabbiagallery.com in Glenmore Road, Paddington and marvelled at the stunning ceramics on show by Gail Nichols and Debra Boyd-Goggin (from our own Queanbeyan no less).
In the process it was great fun to get a style update from window watching all the Oxford Street boutiques: Scanlon & Theodore, Willow, Sass & Bide, Incu, and my favourite, Nicola Waite http://www.nicolawaite.com.
The Paddington Markets were really humming on Saturday morning. I supported local designers by buying jewellery from Natalie Kube http://www.nataliekube.com.au and ant haus designs http://www.anthaus.com.
We waited until as late as possible Sunday afternoon to visit the AGNSW to avoid the long queues for the over hyped first weekend of the Archibald Prize exhibition http://www.thearchibaldprize.com.au.
This year I tried not to look at the exhibition as an art exhibition (usually resulting in disappointment) but just focus on the portraits and their capacity to "capture the human spirit". By doing this I could see that the Tim Minchin portrait was a pretty clear winner, with the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Kate Ceberano also appealing to me.
We finished off our weekend on the arts trail (which also included an outing to the Randwick Ritz to see the compelling Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) with a celebratory beer or two at the gorgeous old East Sydney Hotel (previously the Shamrock Hotel, established in 1856) in Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo, after deciding that the nearby Soho Gallery was not worthy as a possible future venue for an exhibition of Maxie's ceramic sculptures.