Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival 2017 Review

So I went along to the Cherry Blossom Festival held at the Auburn Botanic Gardens last weekend. I love going to this event and every year, it’s always on my must-do list. Since this event is only open over a two week period, it can get a little busy. This year, we did things a little differently this time and decided to beat the rush to get there at opening time. This meant we got the chance to snap the blossoms before the lunch rush.

Hanami (flower viewing) is the Japanese tradition of welcoming Spring. This annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature by gathering under the sakura (cherry blossoms).

There’s just something about cherry blossoms isn’t there? In the non-stop world we live in, it’s so refreshing to be able to unplug and just soak up the magic of these whimsical tiny flowers.

I must say, in comparison to my last visit, this year’s crowd control was excellent. The one way in, one way out method had visitors passing through, enjoying the sights and taking their scenic selfies without the feeling of being in a mosh pit.

After viewing the cherry blossoms, we slowed down the pace to enjoy the beautiful sights of the Japanese gardens. It goes without saying these gardens are just breathtaking. I haven’t been to Japan yet, but it’s really lovely to have our own little bit of Japan right in our backyard. I enjoyed seeing so many families come along dressed in their Sunday bests to take some beautiful pics for their family albums.

The other thing I love about these gardens is spotting the peacocks. These have to be the most ostentatious birds of them all.

The weekend schedule was jam-packed. Visitors could take a self-guided tour of the cherry blossom trail, feast on some tasty Japanese snacks from the Food Village, head to the Izakaya Bar to sample some sake or watch a sumo wrestling demonstration at the Sumo Stadium.

We enjoyed the sumo wrestling. The demonstration included the referee explaining the rules of the sport as well as sharing some of the in game rituals. The demonstration was very family friendly and they even got the little ones to participate and take on the wrestlers. Needless to say, it’s pretty obvious who won the sparring session.

Heading across the road to the Peacock gallery, visitors could enjoy some craft in the sun and try their hand at floral headwear and costume making and attend the origami workshop. We also enjoyed some really cool traditional Japanese drumming. Talk about getting a good workout!

To our surprise, MasterChef’s Adam Liaw was there promoting the ‘Love Your Leftovers’ program. Adam showed the audience how to make better use of their leftovers and showed how easy it is to make your own homemade beef stock. Turns out it’s really easy…

Hopefully, the next time you visit the gardens, you get a chance to spot Gary the show-off peacock as you’re leaving the gardens (not his actual name, but a name I gave him because I think he kinda looked like a Gary) He just loves the cameras…

Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival 2017Did you get a chance to visit the Cherry Blossom Festival this year?

Love, Festival Girl

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera AGNSW Exhibition – Review

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So last weekend I went along to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Why did I wait until the last few weeks long to go? It’s a long story actually. I heard about this event coming to Sydney in late 2015 and at the time I was so excited I was counting down the days. So when the event finally rolled around, I decided to wait until at least the second week to avoid the crush. Then what happened?… on the first week of August, I fell and stuffed my ankle for a few weeks, got very distracted and then all of a sudden, the exhibition was almost at an end. Sigh.

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At $18 per adult ticket, entry into the exhibition is staggered every 30 minutes and the reason for this is pretty obvious. It was much busier than I expected as we all crammed into the small space. I really enjoy going to museums and art galleries, but I personally struggle with the anxiety of having my personal space invaded… It can’t be just me that feels this? Anyway, personal space issues aside, here are my thoughts on the exhibition.

There was absolutely no confusing Frida and Diego’s work with any others, nor should there. Large printed photos on the walls of Frida and Diego created a really warm feeling in the space and made it feel like home. Although there were only 33 paintings and 50 plus photos on display in a relatively small space, it’s the detail in the masterpieces that has people captivated.

I love how this exhibition was curated. Coloured walls throughout the space reflected Frida’s colourful style whilst also highlighting and complementing some of the most important works.

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‘Landscape with Cacti’ by Diego. This is a large and very attractive piece representing colourful cacti in the dessert. This caricature landscape seems different to Diego’s usual style featuring vast spaces with lots of people and often represent a reflection of society.

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Personal letters are on display with interactive tablets displaying Spanish to English translations of handwritten letters. An true insight into their life.

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In contrast to Diego’s pieces, Frida’s works are small, humble and mainly self potraits of the subject she knows the best, herself.

I enjoyed people watching and see others observe the works. I love seeing the excitement in their faces. I love how engrossed people become observing a story. I love seeing people examine every brush stroke and of course, fighting every urge to stroke the delicate paintings.

I enjoyed people watching and see others observe the works. I love seeing the excitement in their faces. I love how engrossed people become observing a story. I love seeing people examine every brush stroke and of course, fighting every urge to stroke the delicate paintings.

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Family album style photographs adorned almost every blank space and invited people to come close and experience their life.

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There’s something so personal about seeing these hand-drawn etchings by Frida. After walking through and observing the photographs timeline, it felt like I had experienced a glimpse of Frida and Diego’s journey through life. It was actually very confronting and emotional to see the final photos of Frida resting in peace.

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The Love Embrace of the Universe,the Earth,Myself,Diego and Senor Xolotl (centred). This is probably one of the most favourite paintings I’ve experienced in the flesh. It’s truly iridescent and seems like no photograph can portray the illuminating contrast between the deep blue and the mint-green colours of the right-hand side of the painting.

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Coloured photos of Frida. 

frida-kahlo-exhibition-11‘Self Portrait as a Tehuana’. Dressed in traditional Tehuana dress, Frida started painting it in 1940 after Diego and her divorce and completed it in 1943. Diego was still clearly on her mind.

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Self-portrait with Monkey. This is probably my favourite piece. I love how the choice of a bold red gallery wall helps lift the piece. Frida depicted monkeys in a huge amount of her paintings and some say these represented the children she was unable to have with Diego.

During their careers, Diego’s career seemed to elevate above Frida’s, however, it’s clear that Frida draws the masses. Frida as an artist, her story and of course her art, is what captivates people to this day and probably will continue to do so for years to come. The lives and stories of Frida and Diego are so entwined and they will always be two parts of a whole.

Don’t miss the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition – with only one day to go, I urge you to go and experience the masterpieces if you can.

Love,
Festival Girl

Lunar New Year Festival, Nurragingy Reserve, Doonside | 12 Feb

Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-DoonsideSo last Friday I went along to the Lunar New Year Festival at Nurragingy Reserve by accident. Being Valentine’s Day weekend, I had organised a special date night with the boy but I had misplaced the gift voucher we were meant to use. It’s a bit of a long story, we’ve just moved house and my very important box for of things like bills, and dinner vouchers has gone missing…So annoying right? So we decided to go cancel the fancy restaurant and instead go along to the Lunar Festival, hence why the visit was by accident. This was the first time I’ve attended the event and I think only it’s second year running. This is definitely a family friendly event with many families even deciding to bring along their faithful pooch.

Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-3 Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-4 Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-2This year, we’re celebrating the year of the monkey. Held at the beautiful Chang Lai Chinese Garden, this is truly a beautiful gem and the suburb’s best kept secret. I honestly had no idea this place even existed!

The event had 20,000 people walk through its doors on Friday night! The parking was well organised and had ample staff to assist with traffic flow and getting cars in and out happily and safey. Lots of festival goers even opted to park nearby and take a short walk.

The festival itself was very well organised with heaps of barriers to keep little ones safe, the bathrooms were conveniently located with lots of well thought out thoroughfares. There was a good mix of cute stalls, tasty snack stalls and cultural activities. Festival goers could learn their future from a fortune teller, try their hand at calligraphy, marvel at fruit carving and having handmade painted patterns on traditional fans. There was also a sizzling Korean cooking demonstration.

Fruit carving – I really wish this was a skill I could master. I was in a cooking class in Bali a few years back, and although the young chef showed us how to do some simple fruit carving, I could never quite master the art of rosette making using carrots. Mine just kinda looked like the end bit that’s left when you’ve finished munching on it.

Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-6 Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-5 Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-7 Lunar-New-Year-Festiival-Doonside-8The main stage was set of rolling hills. It was a full-on evening with the schedule comprising of cultural performances from Asian cultural groups including dancers, performers and Japanese drummers.

I was so pleased to see many people of all walks of life and ethnicities celebrating together. The multicultural community just really embraced it all. There were little kids dancing to music that is not in English and they were having the time of their lives.

We had a delicious Korean spicy pork dish and a tasty Pad Thai with satay skewers. The skewers were really tasty but the Korean dish took the cake.

While we were queueing up for food. We noticed a stall next door selling Fairy Floss, which happened to be the biggest fairy floss I’ve ever seen. I’m assuming are meant to be shared between a family, but I bet you there were some really hyper active kids running around that night.

The highlight of the event was the fireworks on the bridge over the water. It was just so special.

Love, Festival Girl