Sydney Open

I did not want to forget these shots which I took during Sydney Open a couple of weekends ago. Admittedly, my expectations far exceeded the output – and for that I am sorry, especially since my pass had come to me, complimentary, via the organisers of the event. It was just one of those Sundays where I was juggling more than a couple of commitments, and I simply did not have as much time as I would have liked.

Also because of the time restriction, I was forced to keep walking when I saw the long queue snaking its way around Two International Towers at Barangaroo. Later, when I caught one or three shots from there on social media, I had to grit my teeth and tell myself not to dwell on what was not to be. Ah, maybe next year.

First in this post, Culwulla Chambers, a building which at the time of construction in 1912 was the tallest in Sydney, exceeding the maximum height by some 15 feet at 165 feet. By today’s standards, a 13-storey building is positively petite, but in those days Culwulla Chambers caused consternation in the city.

Culwulla Chambers and Dior mannequins

Happy to be there

Tiled floor inside Culwulla Chambers

By the book(s)
For Sydney Open, we were permitted entry to the levels 9 and 10 and which I note now on the website states “No photography”; I don’t recall any signs or mentions on the day so I apologise for breaking the rules (even more so, given the fact that I was in barristers’ offices – yikes!). I don’t think my photos reveal any confidential or secret matters, as most of them were taken of the exterior. I took shots of the bookshelves because I was drawn to them, even though and perhaps because I hardly purchase ‘tree’ books any more these days. To me, the books seemed so redolent of an older era – even more senior than the venerable House of Dior next door, which seems positively junior in comparison, having been founded in 1946.

Barrister’s chambers
I do, however, recall being informed of the “No photos” request at No. 1 Martin Place, where the open office was that of Macquarie Group. That rule applied only to certain areas and especially to the many superb artworks which were part of this office. Seriously, if I worked in this office, I would waste many hours contemplating the creative and artistic stuff around me rather than staring at my computer screen. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t work in this office, then!

Staircase lookdown

Something else I will remember from this location was witnessing an older couple arguing quite forcefully about the “No photography” rule. The woman kept muttering to the man that photography was altogether not permitted (incorrectly), and each time she did so, he would bark back his disagreement (“They said we could! Just NOT THE ART!!”), getting louder and angrier each time. At one point, one even might have shoved the other. I felt uncomfortable being in the same space as these two and hurriedly made my way down the brightly coloured staircase, trying to pretend I’d never heard any of it, all the while imagining scenes from their domestic non-bliss. Ugh, awkward.

I see you
In search of something decidedly calmer, I found myself in Angel Place… I hadn’t planned to visit City Recital Hall, but as has happened many times in the past, here I was because of Forgotten Songs, and art installation of empty birdcages suspended overhead, accompanied by the soundtrack of birdsong, said to represent the birds which used to inhabit this area of Sydney before it evolved into the concrete metropolis so familiar to many of us. It’s quite peaceful and I love it, although my appreciation is usually tinged with guilt about the price of progress.

City Recital Hall

It occurs to me once again, as it did at the time, that it was my first visit to the recital hall. I’ve lived in Sydney for more than a decade, and somehow I’d managed to miss ever going inside! After I got over the initial shock of the realisation, I stepped inside to listen to a few minutes of a talk inside one of the auditoriums and to photograph its sweeping staircase.

Staircase at City Recital Hall
And then… I was outside again, and staring once more at Forgotten Songs… (Old habits die hard.)

Gilded cages… Forgotten Songs

By now, I had veered off-course, my prepared itinerary and marked-out map, folded neatly inside my pocket where it would stay for the remainder of the outing. I couldn’t shake the memory of the older couple and their aggressive exchange, so I put one foot in front of the other and traipsed on all the while focusing at the massive tower that is Australia Square.

I had visited this one for Sydney Open two (or was it three?) years ago, so I didn’t feel compelled to go inside; I noted there was a queue there. But I did stop at the foot of one of the staircases to change to a wide-angle lens so that I could have a go at the classic lookup shot the building framed by the curve of the tunnel. I expect many will have seen the iconic Max Dupain photo of the same, and I don’t pretend that my version is even close to the awesomeness of it. (Go on, you know you want to… Google it!)

Australia Square in the frame
In general, I was drawn to older rather than the new. But I decided after Australia Square that since I was close by I would check out the new EY Centre, not least because I had once been an Ernst & Young employee myself, about five years ago. (I’m not an accountant, in case anyone is wondering.)

What I liked most about this new build, was the use of warm timber to offset the glass facade. Photography was not permitted inside so I spent more time outside and ‘below’, taking ‘lookups’ in order to fully appreciate the curved shape of the tower.

EY exterior

EY lookup

The last building I visited was 30 The Bond. When we used to live in Millers Point, I used to look down on this building every time I went out on to the balcony. I knew it had a glass roof but I didn’t expect to like the atrium as much as I did. I think it was the sandstone wall as much as it was the greenery sprouting from it. It had the effect of bringing the outdoors indoors, which for those of us who are weekday wage-slaves, more often at our desks than outside, this was lovely.

Natural light at 30 The Bond


Point and shoot

By the time I had finished at 30 The Bond, it was time to head to the ferry for Manly for the assignment at Papi Chulo

But before I sign off on this post, I thought I would also share the photo below of the Colonial Centre building, which also houses the city studios of Channel Seven. My office is just across the street from it, which means that I look at this building often. Sometimes, I barely see it, my eye is drawn to the distant horizon or the Anzac Bridge or perhaps, quite simply, the sunset. When I am on street level, I look up, marvelling at the curtain wall structure whilst wondering what the world outside looks like from the inside. Pretty much the same as what I see, I suppose, from my vantage point opposite on Level 31. Nonetheless, I remain fascinated by it, and wonder if one day the Colonial Centre tower will also be on the list of properties for Sydney Open. For now, I will continue to admire its form from a short distance…

Curtain wall structure of the Colonial Centre building
The photo was taken on Friday evening at 7pm as I was leaving the office after a long day. I have a big week coming up, with the culmination of a project on which (a small core of) my colleagues and I been working all year, and this time next week I will have landed in Tokyo for a long-awaited holiday.

Ah, speaking of far-flung adventures and flying, here’s one of the same Colonial Centre, from August. This one was taken just before 5pm. What a difference from winter to summer…

Flying into the sunset
I’ll try to post when I return, before Christmas, but if I don’t apologies in advance. This time of year is always a bit hectic, and we’ll have visitors from New Zealand for festivities, too. Keep well.


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