Bohemian Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay

SLM Peter Kingston, The North Shore Line, 2018The 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 Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay illustrates 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.

“It is fascinating to see works from an extraordinary group of artists who are all responding to a specific time in a specific place,” said Mark Goggin, Executive Director Sydney Living Museums. “The imagery, colours and aesthetic developed by these artists help inform how we think about and view our harbour city today.”

Bohemian Harbour brings together paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and experimental film produced during the formative Lavender Bay period, including a number of rarely-seen artworks by Brett Whiteley from private collections.

Insightful interviews with the artists, whose relationships and connections made Lavender Bay such an extraordinary hub of creativity, illustrate the social and artistic energy that flourished and drew people to the area.

Through artists’ eyes, we can see the transformation of the Lavender Bay waterfront from a natural wilderness to working industrial harbour to a scenic harbourside enclave, recognising the continuing efforts by resident artists Wendy Whiteley and Peter Kingston to preserve and enhance the area’s rich heritage and lush tranquillity. The exhibition includes artworks from artists who painted during the 19th and 20th century.

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.

Bohemian Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay
Museum of Sydney, Corner Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney
Exhibition continues to 25 November 2018
Free admission after museum entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Peter Kingston, The North Shore Line, 2018. © Peter Kingston