If you’ve resolved to increase your intake of arts and culture this year, read on. From blockbuster shows to tiny artist towns and a painter worth taking note of now – here’s where to start.
1. Experience iconic art
Where: QAGOMA, BRISBANE, QLD
Legendary German artist Gerhard Richter’s first major Australian show, Gerhard Richter, opens on 14 October at Brisbane’s Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
2. Explore buildings you never knew were there
Where: OPEN HOUSE MELBOURNE,VIC, AND SYDNEY OPEN, NSW
Check out Open House Melbourne in July and Sydney Open in November to get behind the scenes of some of the cities’ most inspiring and intriguing buildings, many of which are often closed to the public.
Shameless snoops have previously had the chance to visit The Great Synagogue in Sydney and Government House in Melbourne.
3. Discover a new artist to watch
At just 31 years old, 2016 Archibald Prize finalist Clara Adolphs is one of the most exciting artists of the decade. Painting in thick impasto with a palette knife, Adolphs depicts scenes from old photographs, creating evocative and mesmeric paintings with complex narratives.
Her next show will be at the MiCK Fine Art pop-up in Sydney during November.
4. It’s time to get Contemporary
Where: SYDNEY, NSW
Green Square in Sydney is on track to become a shiny new cultural and community hub, and the arts are following suit.
5. Absorb our great theatrical talent
The executive director of Melbourne Theatre Company, Virginia Lovett, knows a thing or two about theatre.
“Great theatre is never in short supply in Australia: there is a multitude of incredible theatre-makers on and offstage, bringing audiences the best international and local stories,” she tells us.
“The Australian theatre ecology is so rich and exciting, and the talent of our artists and quality of our productions is recognised around the world.”
Here she gives us her three top picks of the year.
Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Playhouse
8 July – 12 August
Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
If you’re in need of a good laugh, Noises Off is the answer. Starring Simon Burke, it’s a rollicking farce and contemporary classic that audiences have loved for decades.
19 August – 21 October
Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 1 Theatre
2 November – 16 December
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio
John Bell is one of Australia’s most pre-eminent actors; don’t miss the chance to see him in the lead role of an astonishing new play. The Father is deeply moving and transports audiences into the puzzling labyrinth of an old man’s once familiar world. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time.
18 November – 23 December
Southbank Theatre (Melbourne), The Sumner
Vivid White is the latest creation from the wild, satirical mind of Eddie Perfect. It’s a hilarious and ruthless swipe at middle-class aspirations and the living nightmare that is the Australian housing market.
6. Meet artists and designers in the Yarra Valley
YARRA VALLEY OPEN STUDIOS, VIC
Yarra Valley Open Studios returns after a two-year hiatus.
Visit the Healesville area in September, the Yarra Glen in October and the Warburton area in November to see artists and designers at work in their studios, chat to them and take something home.
7. Watch theatrical history repeat itself
Julie Andrews, who starred in the original 1956 show on Broadway, has directed My Fair Lady to exactly replicate it, including using those Cecil Beaton costumes.
It’s showing in Brisbane and Melbourne for the first time: at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre until 23 April and Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 12 May until 25 June.
It returns to Sydney after its success last year, showing at the Capitol Theatre from 24 August until 23 September.
Like Julie, it’s practically perfect in every way.
8. See the Red Centre up in lights
Where: PARRTJIMA – A FESTIVAL IN LIGHT, ALICE SPRINGS, NT
Australia’s biggest ever light show installation returns for its second year, running from 22 September to 1 October 2017.
Last year’s Parrtjima event was a national sensation – the MacDonnell Ranges were lit up in a sea of dancing light, and ancient aboriginal stories were told through light and sound.
9. Uncover Perth’s transformation into an indigenous art centre
Where: ART GALLERY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA, PERTH, WA
Head to the Perth Cultural Centre to see how the Art Gallery of Western Australia is shifting its focus to better reflect Australian indigenous arts in 2017.
From 29 July, experience its new permanent indigenous gallery.
Or see Plain Speak until 13 August, a new annual exhibition dedicated to the stories of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s exhibition includes both contemporary and traditional mediums.
10. Walk in the footsteps of artists
Where: HILL END, NSW
Visit one of Australia’s most celebrated artists’ towns, Hill End, in the Bathurst region of New South Wales.
The town, surrounded by spectacular landscapes, has been a home and source of inspiration to some of Australia’s most highly regarded artists, including Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart, John Olsen and Russell Drysdale.
Hill End was a key town in the Australian gold rush of the 1870s, and history abounds in its buildings and museums.
Visit from 21–23 April for The End festival of arts, culture and heritage.
Do you want to know the 100 best ways to see Australia? See April/May issue of Australian Traveller .