Sydney Contemporary

Talk Contemporary—

An engaging forum of curated talks which explore topical ideas and controversial themes in contemporary art and culture for all audiences. Speakers include leading figures in the creative fields of art, architecture, design, fashion, music and food.

In 2023, Talk Contemporary comprised two thematic strands – a series focused on art curated by Samantha Watson-Wood of Friends with Strangers, and a program of architecture and design panels curated by design editor and commentator Karen McCartney. 

how to be the Future

This talk will look at current social and political trends that question how art is represented in our galleries, institutions and events. After the turbulent times of the last few years there is an uprise of issues including collection gender gap, de-colonial discourse, access, diversity and inclusion and the notion of care and empathy as a working practice. How does the art industry address this? How do galleries, museums and festivals ensure it is representative of its people and its place in a true and genuine manner? How do exhibitions, events and artists reflect society? How does the industry ensure inclusion and access to new audiences in an authentic way? How do we make spaces for all people to play, grow and learn through art?

Dr Michael Brand | Speaker
Shari Sebben | Speaker 
Tony Albert | Moderator


From Indigenous Voices to AI

Join insiders from four major arts and cultural magazines as they discuss current issues in the Australia-Pacific publishing industry. From diverse First Nations voices, to a rising voice of a different kind – that of generative AI – how are these editorial teams navigating the complexities of the contemporary artworld and doing it with creative flair? Listen to voices from some of Australia’s major arts publications including Artlink, Art Monthly Australasia, Art News Aotearoa and VAULT. 

Una Rey | Speaker
Erin Vink | Speaker
Becky Hemus | Speaker
Alison Kubler |  Speaker
Victoria Pearson | Moderator

Designing with Country: Art & Architecture

What does it mean to embed a strong and meaningful sense of country in the places we design in Australia? This is discussed from a range of architectural and art perspectives to bring a greater understanding of what good outcomes look and feel like.

Huw Turner | Collins & Turner | Speaker
Bernadette Hardy | Hardy & Hardy | Speaker
Samantha Rich | Walumarra Studio | Speaker
David Clark | Moderator

Creatives at Home – How I collect

A panel of creatives from the disciplines of architecture, interior design and art curation – who have gathered personal collections over time to reflect a strong, personal viewpoint – tell the stories of their passion for collecting. 

Hannah Tribe | Tribe Studio | Speaker
David Flack | Flack Studio | Speaker 
Ronan Sulich | Speaker
Karen McCartney | Moderator 

The Shimmer -   how artists emulate/are the land

This talk would explore the ideas around landscape being more than a decorative medium instead being a cultural and political tool used by artists to express issues such as ongoing integrated cultural practice, land-rights, as well as marking ideas of the Anthropocene and the climate crisis.

Teho Ropeyarn | Speaker
Lara Merrett | Speaker 
Sally Scales | Speaker 
Joan Ross | Speaker 
Kimberley Moulton | Moderator 

Crossovers - design as art; the rise of collectible design

The question of where design ends and art begins is gaining traction as designed objects, in limited edition runs, are falling under the eye of knowing collectors. Where is this growing trend headed and what and who are the key drivers as it gathers momentum?

Trent Jansen | Trent Jansen Studio | Speaker  
Olivia Bossy | Speaker 
Andy Kelly | Oigall Projects | Speaker 
David Clark | Moderator  

Designing Spaces for Art

We question three eminent architects on the challenges of designing spaces where art and objects are to be viewed, how the experience and expectation has changed and how they meet (and exceed) those demands.

William Smart | Smart Design Studio | Speaker
Timothy Hill | Partners Hill | Speaker
Camilla Block | 
DBJ Architects | Speaker
Karen McCartney | Moderator 

Love, Sex and The Image

Art has always depicted objects of one’s desires. This talk will explore ideas around the muse, the male gaze and objectification, queer celebration, desire, love, shock and pleasure, othering and adoration. Unpacking the representation of our sexual identities, through the image.

Solomon Kammer | Speaker
Dylan Mooney | Speaker
Emma Maye Gibson aka Betty Grumble | Speaker
Sam Watson-Wood | Moderator 

The Selfie and Questions of Identity

The Selfie and Questions of Identity: One of the first self-portraits was made by the Pharaoh Akhenaten’s chief sculptor Bak in 1365 BC, it is estimated that in 2023 over 93 Million selfies are taken each day. This talk will explore how the form of self portraiture/ the selfie constantly moves through portrayal, subversion, exploration and straight narcissism. What purpose does the selfie serve and how has it affected our understanding of identity?

Jack Ball | Speaker 
Jenny Watson | Speaker 
Ramesh Nithiyendran | Speaker 
Sarah Rees | Moderator

Clever Collecting & Commissioning - what are your best moves? (It’s not all about the dollars)

While establishing an art collection might sound out of reach – both financially and conceptually – when dissected as an attitude and an approach it can become a lifetime joy. The discussion will unpick these ideas and impart a sense of the achievable.

Michelle Paterson | .M Contemporary | Speaker
Yasemin Saleh Ghoniem | YSG Studio | Speaker
Evi O | Evio-O Studio | Speaker

Steven Todd | Moderator 


Art + Interiors - matching the couch is not a requirement

An interior designer, gallerist and art advisor discuss how they approach specifying art for interior projects, how they engage clients, what are the FAQ (they might surprise you) and what have been some of the most successful outcomes.

Martin Browne | Martin Browne Contemporary | Speaker
Sarah-Jane Pyke | Arent&Pyke | Speaker
Kym Elphinstone | Speaker
Stephen Todd | Moderator

The Enduring Power of Print

Since the early ages of printmaking, artists have navigated old and new skill sets and have adopted media and technologies to connect new audiences with traditional stories Among the supreme artists of the world, Rembrandt van Rijn occupies a very special place. One of the most eminent painters of all time and a great innovator, he was the first artist to fully explore the possibilities of the etched line. In the 1960s and 1970s a new generation of printmakers emerged, their prints gradually becoming more adventurous and dynamic.  Printmaking is an exciting and critical part of our visual arts culture, and arguably can be seen as the most fundamental, spontaneous, collectible and personally satisfying of all art forms

Cathy Leahy | Speaker 
David Greenhalgh | Speaker 
Anne Ryan | Moderator 


Bow Down

In homage to Jennifer Higgie’s (Former Editor of Frieze magazine) Bow Down Podcast, a podcast that uncovered significant women artists from the past, Kalita Corrigan, the Commissioning Editor at the ABC will sit with some of Australia’s leading creative minds to delve into their favourite female artists. Each speaker will nominate an artist to whom we should all bow down.

Anna Plunket | Speaker 
Jess Scully | Speaker 
Rainbow Chan | Speaker
Kalita Corrigan | Moderator

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