something else is alive: sydney and the animal instinct

Customs House, Sydney | 17 August 2017 - 18 March 2018
Curators: Holly Williams & Glenn Barkley with Chloe Wolifson and Isabel Hesketh

About the exhibition:

Urbanised and sprawling, Sydney is deeply urbane yet paradoxically wild - where a secret city of animals, both seen and unseen, exists amongst us. We are coupled and tethered to the animal world in a symbiotic relationship that stretches from the present into the past.

Birds sweep through our skies and pick at our waste, cats rule social media networks, dogs are preened and prepped, and rats scurry endlessly within close proximity. Animals are depicted through deeply symbolic decoration – from public art to architectural motifs. Yet this relationship is often overlooked.

Something Else is Alive: Sydney and the Animal Instinct investigates animals in the city in various ways – from the humorous to the downright creepy, from the symbolically sacred to the secular.

This eclectic exhibition features objects drawn from the City of Sydney collection and archives alongside artworks by four Sydney-based artists. Weird animalia given to the City is presented alongside fascinating 19th century letters of complaint received by the Lord Mayor and a bespoke horn made for the unicorn on the Customs House facade. Something Else is Alive includes street photography, clusters of ceramic pigeons and a delicate school of fish swimming over the city model. Videos include the dog’s eye view of Bailey Haggarty - rescue dog and Assistant Director of Seagulls at the Australian National Maritime Museum; dramatic footage of a Peregrine Falcon preying on a pigeon on a ledge of a local office building and how our city's relationship with Il Porcellino, the wild boar with a lucky snout.

Participating artists: Mechelle Bounpraseuth, Blak Douglas, Mylyn Nguyen & Garry Trinh.
Curated by The Curators' Department and produced by the City of Sydney, Customs House.

Public program

Chinese New Year tours in Mandarin and English
17th Feb, Mandarin at 11am, English at 12pm
Join Mandarin-speaker Dara Wei, Holly Williams and Mylyn Nguyen for a tour through the ideas behind the exhibition, first in Mandarin at 11am, followed by English at 12.
RSVP on eventbrite - Mandarin / RSVP on eventbrite - English

Tour for the vision impaired
24th Feb at 11am  
Join Glenn Barkley and Mechelle Bounpraseuth for an aural and tactile tour of the exhibition.
RSVP on eventbrite

Discovering animals in the city – artist talk and walking tour
28th Feb at 5.30 pm - 6.30pm     
Join Glenn Barkley and Garry Trinh for a floor talk followed by a walking tour of the architectural menagerie surrounding Customs House.
RSVP on eventbrite

All events will include an opportunity to taste honey from the Customs House beehive.
Meet at the information desk on the ground floor for all events.

media coverage:

Anna Clark & Tamson Pietsch, Curation: Setting the scene with Holly Williams, GLAMCity on Radio 2ser, 24 September 2017

Kate Evans, Something else is alive: art exhibition explores animals in the city, Books and Arts, Radio National, 19 September 2017

Kathleen Linn, Review: Something Else is Alive, Art+Australia Online, August 2017

Artist goes to bat for hangers-on, National Indigenous Times, 23 August 2017

Bailey Haggarty in 'Something Else is Alive: Sydney and the Animal Instinct', Blouin ArtInfo, 15 August 2017

Sevin Pakbaz, The secret lives of animals, Central News, 14 August 2017

Elizabeth Fortescue, Assistant director of seagulls Bailey Haggarty's barque is worse than his bite, The Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2017

Something Else is Alive: Sydney and the Animal Instinct', Art Almanac, 28 July 2017

   Mechelle Bounpraseuth,  Breadface  , 2016, ceramic, dimensions variable.  Image courtesy the artist.


Mechelle Bounpraseuth, Breadface, 2016, ceramic, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.