Bohemian Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay

The spectacular views from Sydney’s Lavender Bay have inspired generations of artists who have celebrated its great beauty. In the 1970s and early 80s the waterfront enclave became a bayside bohemia and home to some of Sydney’s most recognisable and celebrated artists.

Located below North Sydney’s bustling business centre, Lavender Bay and its sweeping harbour views have seduced some of the city’s most notable artists, from Conrad Martens to Margaret Olley to Brett Whiteley, who have traced the bay’s transformation from natural wilderness to working industrial harbour to a luxurious leisure ground. Bohemian Harbourillustrates this evolution, and in particular highlights the extraordinary artistic community drawn to the bay in the 1970s and 80s.

Providing a haven for bohemian counterculture to thrive in a turbulent social, political and cultural climate, Lavender Bay became the home and inspiration to some of Sydney’s leading artists, including Brett Whiteley and Peter Kingston, along with their neighbours and friends Tom Carment, Philip Cox, Joel Elenberg, Robert Jacks, Rollin Schlicht, Martin Sharp, Garry Shead and Tim Storrier. Rarely seen paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and experimental film from private and public collections will feature alongside interviews with the artists whose relationships and connections made Lavender Bay such an extraordinary hub of creative output.

The exhibition celebrates the ongoing transformation of Lavender Bay and recognises the continuing efforts by resident artists Wendy Whiteley and Peter Kingston to preserve and enhance the area’s rich heritage and lush tranquillity. Recognising the significance of this place to the history of Australian art, the NSW Government recently granted heritage status to the Whiteleys’ house, its views of Sydney Harbour, which inspired so many of Brett’s paintings, and Wendy Whiteley’s remarkable Secret Garden.

Past exhibition

  • 1 September 2018 - 25 November 2018

About Bohemian Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay

With its sweeping views across the sparkling water to the city skyline, Lavender Bay on Sydney’s lower north shore has inspired generations of artists

Man with curly hair being hugged by woman with headscarf holding drink and cigarette.

In conversation with Wendy Whiteley

Wendy Whiteley OAM talks about the significance of Lavender Bay in her extraordinary life as wife, muse, mother, and creator of a much-loved garden