“The character and the life of Sydney are shaped continually and imperceptibly by the fingers of the Harbour, groping across the piers and jetties, clutching deeply into the hills, the water dyed a whole paint box’s armoury of colour with every breath of air, every shift of light or shade… The water is like silk, like pewter, like blood, like a leopard’s skin, and occasionally merely like water… Sometimes it dances with flakes of fire, sometimes it is blank and anonymous with fog, sometimes it shouts as joyously as a mirror.” (Slessor 1950 cited in - Emmett 1995; p.32)
The images we see most of Sydney are the panoramas, the wide vistas – from the old panorama scenes of Sydney Cove through to today’s glossy aerial snaps of the coast. Within the visual arts there are more expressive images – Brett Whiteley’s scenes of Sydney or John Olson’s “Five Bells” or “Victoria Street” paintings. Grace Cossington Smith and Margaret Preston look at the rise of modernism in Sydney – the bridge and the working docks of the harbour. Sculpture by the Sea is probably an appropriate image of Sydney in artistic terms with the juxtaposition of the beauty of the natural landscape around Bondi and Tamarama setting off the artistic expressions of contemporary artists. Photographers such as Max and Rex Dupain or Robert Billington look at some of the details of Sydney and in particular focus on the lives and culture of her people. Ken Done meanwhile helped to improve the way Sydney was viewed in the tourist market by injecting a fresh vision of colour and vibrancy into the view. There is however room for new fresh interpretations and more alternatives to capture other aspects of our city, particularly in tourism industry advertising, where the images are still quite limited.