Photo-portraits capture Newtown's quirky diversity from behind shop doors

The quirky and eclectic personality of Sydney’s iconic Newtown is captured in a vibrant collection of 50 photo-portraits in the free exhibition Shopkeepers of Newtown: Photographs by Nic Bezzina, opening at the State Library of NSW from 1 November 2014.

The exhibition features a colourful cast of shopkeepers, including fetish fashion creators, food designers and retro treasure merchants, accompanied by revealing stories from behind the counter.

Captured over five years from 2009 to 2013, Nic Bezzina’s collection of photo-portraits was inspired by his love of the suburb’s alternative spirit and a desire to create a reportage style local snapshot for future generations.

“Newtown was my home for 10 years. I was drawn by its quirky nature and wanted to preserve a record of the fascinating individuals running local independent businesses,” says Mr Bezzina.

Among those featured is black-clad Heather Marsh of Reactor Rubberwear who reminisces about a customer determined to leave the shop to run down Enmore Road wearing a ‘black rubber blow up Michelin Man body suit with a blow up hood and breathing hose’.

According to Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive: “The State Library is focused on collecting, preserving and sharing the stories of our rapidly changing state and nation and Nic’s unique portrait series, now part of the Library’s extensive collection, provides a vital record of the diverse creative community of Newtown today.”

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Meet Hairy Maclary and his posse of pooches at the State Library of NSW

When a scruffy black dog by the name of Hairy Maclary leapt off the page and out of the gate 35 years ago, little did its owner know what a huge sensation he would cause even to this day!

Inspired by the madcap humour of Dr Seuss, Lynley Dodd’s popular rhyming picture books about dogs and cats have sold in the millions and catapulted Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy to an international star in the eyes of children and grown-ups alike.

From 1 November 2014 the magic of Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki, Scarface Claw and friends come to life in a major exhibition at the State Library of NSW featuring 50 original drawings of beloved characters by the award-winning children’s book author.

Lynley Dodd: A Retrospective is more than an exhibition about cats and dogs, it is the story of the talented New Zealand-born artist, her education and rise to being one of the world’s most popular children’s writers and illustrators. 

The exhibition will appeal to people of all ages, with drawings from her first work dating back to school days, through to her latest book, Slinky Malinky, Early Bird, 2012. Younger visitors can get comfy in the exhibition reading room for storytime and a craft activity at 10.30am every Wednesday, or watch their favourite Hairy Maclary animated tale.

Special event: Dame Lynley Dodd is visiting Sydney in November to guest star at the State Library’s free family fun day.  Join in the fun with storytelling, face painting, craft activities and film screenings. Come dressed as your favourite Lynley Dodd character and join in the dress up parade. Details: Saturday 22 November, 10am to 4pm, State Library of NSW.

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Dame Marie Bashir receives top honours at NSW State Library

Just hours after the historic re-naming of the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room, Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO was recognised again last night at the announcement of the State Library of NSW’s inaugural awards, receiving the evening’s highest honour.

The Honours of the Library Council of NSW recognise distinguished individuals who contribute to the cultural enrichment of Australia through library and information excellence.

Rob Thomas, President of the Library Council, presented Dame Marie with the Medal of the Library Council of New South Wales “for eminence and scholarship, sustained care for the people of NSW, and for her enduring support for this great Library.”

The following Honours were also awarded:
The Dixson Medal
The Ifould Medal
Emeritus Curator
Honorary Fellow

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