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Small stories, big picture

A couple weeks ago, Alison and I applied to be part of Small Stories Big Picture – an initiative as part of Sydney Design to encourage people to explore the hidden design gems of Surry Hills. Over 250 people applied to spend a Saturday with a bike, a LOMO camera and a passport of destinations to visit. We were lucky enough to make the cut, and BYO’d bikes and got a fish-eye camera to share for the day. It was so pretty, and I love that it has a fish on it:

Our journey started at Metalab, a gallery and workshop tucked in Fitzroy Place, a laneway off Crown Street just opposite Bill’s. As the name suggests, the focus is on all things metallic, and they even run classes where you can learn to make jewellery.

Object Gallery on Bourke Street has a very colourful shop on the ground floor, and some really interesting exhibitions upstairs. First you hit an exhibition where nine different artists had to create something around theme “blue”. Blue the colour, blue the feeling, something borrowed something blue, etc. Then up another level, were these amazing little magnifying viewers you could look through to see a tiny photo of an artist’s workspace.

Reverse Garbage is a Sydney institution, making bulk industrial refuse available for artists to play with and students to decorate their sharehouses. RG now lives in Taylor Square.

Koskela was tucked away upstairs on Campbell Street, a place we’d never have found ourselves. It’s a gorgeous space full of covetable furniture, homewares, light fittings, books, gardening bits and bobs and kids’ toys. The emphasis is on sustainability, often reclaimed materials and Australian-designed and made products.

Spring Court is a teeny little shop that sells French sneakers and rad desert boots.

We stopped for a much needed coffee and late breakfast at Bang Bang cafe on Reservoir St… Owner Alan is an ex-DJ, and his background shows through in both the design (giant illustrations of headphones on the white walls) and a Brit-influenced menu that includes the likes of bacon butties and black puddings. Some bastard just beat me to the last rosti-filled, pancetta-topped breakfast stack, but my avocado, tomato and basil on toast was simple but deliciously tasty, and by all accounts the buttie is a beauty.

At this point we realised getting to all 24 destinations was going to be an epic mission, so we narrowed it down to the places we just had to see. Published Art on Mary Street has an eye-popping selection of art and design related books… I’d barely walked in the door before I found a book just about bike culture and design. Heaven!

We looped around Elizabeth Street and came up Cleveland to I Ran The Wrong Way (which is getting a post all its own) and Bird Textile. Bird is one of those places I’ve been passing on the bus for three years; always intrigued by the well-dressed bike they keep outside on the pavement, but never managed to actually go into the shop. They have a lovely range of eco-friendly fabrics and buttons (and clothes, bags, upholstery) in earthy greens and reds, with bold prints I’d say are a bit Japanese-influenced.

After Bird we went off map to David Met Nicole (another post in itself) then back up to Crown Street to Collector (clothes, homewares) and Paper2 (which titillated my current fetish for rubber stamps – and can you imagine anything more luxurious than having personalised stationery printed?).

We handed in our camera and finished the day with a cheeky pint amid the beer-garden plantlife and paper lanterns of the Beresford. It was the kind of sunbright, balmy Sydney winter Saturday that leaves you wondering why anyone would want to live anywhere else. It was so fun to be part of Small Stories Big Picture, but it’s not over yet! There will be two more Saturdays of people shooting on LOMOs, and the resulting images will be on show at the Beresford over the coming weeks. There will be a party there to celebrate the full installation on August 18. See you there?

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