Prior to moving to Sydney, my connection to Surry Hills was limited to Ruth Park's A Harp in the South, the sad, post World War 11 story of the Darcy family and their daughter, Dolour (a name I had not met before … or since). So, for me, Surry Hills strolling involved slums and poverty and hardship and alcohol and street brawling … not the most salubrious stroll.
But, my recent venture to the Brett Whiteley Gallery, hidden in a small suburban back-street, changed those conceptions of Surry Hills strolling … dramatically.
Brett Whiteley fascinates me: his life, his art and his terrible death. What a waste to have such a mind taken by heroin.
Upstairs in the gallery, beyond the Redheads matches standing guard at the entrance, is his studio. It sits frozen in time, as though he has just stepped out for a coffee or an exhibition opening … or, perhaps more appropriately, to meet the dealer for a hit. The atmosphere in this small space is eerie, confronting. His presence is evident in the trappings of his life: paints, brushes, a pile of hats, trinkets. A face mask sits beside his tins of spray paint. Ironic that he would protect his lungs from spray paint fumes, but then shoot up on heroin. This confuses me, annoys me, angers me. What about you?
But, regardless, Brett Whiteley did draw me to Surry Hills and to its vibrancy and modern soul.
Modern Surry Hills is about coffee shops. Some narrow, with steep stairs leading to a 1970s' style macrame-hanging-plant-festooned sun deck.
And colourfully inviting restaurants-cum-bars.
And markets filled to the brim with vintage … and more vintage.
My pineapple-loving-friend, Linda, loovves markets and a bargain.
I tried to buy that cute, yellow, wire mesh tray, but decided it was too dear.
Gelato Messina is a MUST in modern Surry Hills. Cousin Maria introduced me to it because she looovves it.
The gelato in the bucket is mine, by the way. Maria's not THAT into gelato. But she was right, it is soooo good.
And when Linda visited … she looovved it too.
The Trinity Bar was our go-to spot for a great value, excellent lunches … and those book cases that line the walls, I could look at them all day.
Teeny terrace houses, many only one room wide, open right onto the streets. Most beautifully restored with price tags far beyond my range.
Some wait patiently to be rescued by an avid renovator.
Street art captured my eye. Some is intentional.
Some created by nature or randomly by man.
Some with obvious purpose.
Or not so obvious??
Surry Hills today is alive.
Like my Abbey Road type photo??
Surry Hills strolling has a lot to recommend it.
Did you enjoy the stroll?
Would you go again?
To the markets?
Or for coffee?
I know I'll be there again …
when the next visitor swings through my door.