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A collage of a selection of artworks from the exhibition

Sydney Buries its Past

An exhibition that opens a window onto a vanished world of Sydney in the 1970s and early 1980s inviting us to consider its ongoing relevance today.

14 July – 20 August, 2022

Every problem could be solved with a poster in those days.

Michael Callaghan, Earthworks Poster Collective 1972-1979

Sydney Buries its Past is an exhibition of print, photography, sculpture, film, objects and ephemera that brings together material from the Tin Sheds Archive between 1972 –1994, in dialogue with commissioned works from contemporary artists.

Once located in a group of dilapidated corrugated iron sheds on City Road, the artist-run Tin Sheds was home to workshops, events, alternative living, and the generation and dissemination of political art and activism on issues of race, feminism, ecology and nuclear disarmament. Through its uniquely arbitrary and chaotic nature, the Tin Sheds archive embodies the spirit of a time where discrete segments of society in Sydney were coalescing to present alternatives to their social and political reality. 

Current students and alumni at the Sydney College of the Arts have created works inspired by the archive that address the same issues of power, corruption and destruction that still persist in Sydney. These include a new film work by Alex Gawronski interrogating the politics of erasure and destruction using footage of the demolition of a swathe of the USYD campus to make way for the new Law Building complex. Zoe Marni Robertson creates a barricade of politically-charged paintings while Jack Wotton creates an installation made of scorched and buckled corrugated iron from his family home destroyed in the 2019/2020 mega-fires.  

In conjunction with the unearthed Tin Sheds archives, this new body of work explores modes of protest and aims to reassert the University campus as a place of personal-political action. The exhibition sheds light on, and provokes discussions around an overarching concept of Sydney being a place which is continually and relentlessly paving over its past.

Artists: Alex Gawronski, Zoe Marni Robertson, Jack Wotton, Stuart Bailey, Maya Stocks, Mitchel Cumming, Toby Zoates

Material from the Tin Sheds Archive, including works by Earthworks & Lucifoil Poster Collectives, and films by Peter Kennedy & John Hughes, Mary Callaghan

Curated by Maya Stocks

Infantilisation: Military Entertainment Complex, painting by Zoë Marni Robertson, 2022. Courtesy the artist

Gallery Talks & Performance

Saturdays, 12–1pm

Venue: Tin Sheds Gallery, 148 City Rd, Darlington, NSW

Join one of the exhibiting artists every Saturday for a gallery tour as they discuss their new work, its relationship to the Tin Sheds archives, and how Sydney buries its past.

Saturday 16 July, 12pm – Zoë Marni Robertson / Maya Stocks (RSVP)

Saturday 23 July, 12pm – Jack Wotton (RSVP)

Saturday 30 July, 12pm - Alex Gawronski / Maya Stocks (RSVP)

Saturday 6 August, 12pm - Stuart Bailey (RSVP)

Saturday 20 August, 12pm - Mitch Cummings (RSVP)

Saturday 20 August, 12pm - All for closing drinks (RSVP) 

Still from ‘Waterloo’ directed by Tom Zubrycki, 1981. Courtesy Tom Zubrycki

Film Screening #1

Thursday, 21 July 6pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Wilkinson Building, 148 City Rd, Darlington, NSW

Concrete City (1994) dir. Fabio Cavadini & Mandy King 

Waterloo (1981) dir. Tom Zubrycki

Q&A with Nicholas Croggon from the Power Institute

Two documentary films about local Sydney communities resisting the jack hammers of 1980s urban redevelopment. Q&A with film makers and with Nicholas Croggon from the Power Institute

Still from ‘Rocking the Foundations’ directed by Pat Fiske, 1986. Courtesy Pat Fiske

Film Screening #2

Thursday, 4 August 6pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Wilkinson Building, 148 City Rd, Darlington, NSW

Rocking the Foundations, 1986 dir. Pat Fiske

Q&A with Dr Alex Gawronski, artist and lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts 

A passionate documentary about the controversial New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF). Filmmaker Pat Fiske, herself one of the first women members of the BLF, develops a portrait of this once-powerful union through interviews with former union members and officials, archival film, and television news coverage of some of its actions.

Tin Sheds Gallery acknowledges the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, upon whose ancestral lands our exhibitions take place. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge of these lands, waterways and Country.

Top image: installation shot of Tin Sheds posters. Photo by Jessica Maurer. 

Photography by Baja Maska & Jessica Maurer 2022

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Tin Sheds Gallery

  • 148 City Road, Darlington Sydney, NSW
Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday: 11am-5pm Saturdays: 12pm-5pm

Tin Sheds Gallery