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Painting The Rocks – The Loss of Old Sydney Exhibition Opening

11 August 2010   Photos and story MiSociety

The ‘Painting The Rocks – The Loss of Old Sydney’ depicts the early visions of  an area we almost completely lost – twice.
The Rocks area of Sydney has had a chequered past and it’s only through the efforts of Dr Jack Mundy that the area is not now the site of a mass of 70′s designed (and  hideous) residential blocks.  But this fight was not the first for our  longest surviving cluster of buildings in Australia – the seat of our nation’s  birthplace.

Sydney’s Rocks area was originally the off loading point for coffee, tea and spices for our early residents.  Due to overcrowding, the outbreak of bubonic plague and the need for adequate infrastructure in the burgeoning settlement, the  government announced in 1900 their plans to demolish Old Sydney.  (Hmm, the plague aside, not a lot has changed really).

Artists of the day rushed to document on canvas this historical area that the developers of the day had in their sites.  (Hmm not a lot has changed really).  ’Painting the Rocks’  is a collection of these historical works along with manuscripts, bubonic plague warnings and even petrified rats.  But a word of warning – don’t think you are going to skip through this exhibition in a hurry – it’s fascinating.

“The whole aim of  ‘Painting the Rocks’ is to dispel the myth that the Green bans of the 1970’s were the first time heritage consciousness was raised in Sydney.  The rediscovery of the paintings featured in the exhibition emphasizes that the heritage concerns of Sydneysiders 100 years ago weren’t that different to the concerns of people today.”  Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon, one of the curators of the exhibition, said at the opening.

Heritage Legislation was introduced 1977 after Jack Mundy rallied support for the Green Bans of the 70′s and last night I had the pleasure of shaking Jack’s hand and thanking him on my personal behalf.   The Painting The Rocks – The Loss of Old Sydney is showing at the Museum of Sydney until 28 November 2010  Further information on the exhibition

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