Waterloo Street Artist Roberta Finnegan

In November 2016 I had a chat with Waterloo Estate street artist Roberta Finnegan about how she got started doing street art and what inspires her art.

At the age of 79 Roberta has taken up street art as a protest against the destruction of parts of her community. Chief amongst these concerns is the NSW Government’s proposed demolition and replacement of the Waterloo Public Housing Estate where she lives. Roberta is part of a group of local residents running the We Live Here 2017 campaign. The campaign’s aim is to put a human face to the Waterloo Estate and become a voice for a community facing eviction.


Represent: Irene Doutney’s journey to Sydney Town Hall

Irene Doutney retired as a City of Sydney Councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor in September 2016. She represented her community and The Greens on Council for 8 years. Not everyone has heard of her – self-promotion was never her thing. But if you’ve been involved in community activism in the inner-city you’ve probably come across her.

Irene was always an unlikely politician. When I first met her as an inner-city Greens activist I thought of her as a warm, unassuming lady who was always ready to roll up her sleeves and support campaigns in any way she could. She volunteered in Greens offices and attended lots of rallies but I would never have guessed she would run for office.

Irene surprised me in 2011 by hiring me to work in her office at Sydney Town Hall. For five years I got to work closely with her and witness her unrelenting commitment to the communities she represented. It didn’t matter what was going on, personally or politically. Irene just kept going.

Continue reading “Represent: Irene Doutney’s journey to Sydney Town Hall”

The AYI Story

My friend Bishop Laryea was born in Teshie, Ghana, before migrating to Australia as a child. On a trip back to Teshie in 2011 Bishop decided he wanted to do something to support the young people in his home town. As a result Africa Youth Initiative was born. It was the first youth centre of its kind in Ghana and Bishop plans to open more across Ghana and Africa. I made a short film about his inspiring work.

Con the Cobbler – 50 years in Hurlstone Park

Constantine Anagostou opened his Hurlstone Park his business on Crinan Street in August 1966. He arrived in Australia only two years earlier at the age of 22. Today he is one of the last shoemakers.

Ten years of transforming young lives in Waterloo

img_7293Waterloo has kept a hold on Bruce Shilling. The man known as Uncle Bruce arrived in Waterloo from Brewarrina in the state’s north west for a week’s work in 2006 and 10 years later he’s still here.

Uncle Bruce is part of a close team that run Yurangai, an after school program for Aboriginal primary school for students of Alexandria Park and Mount Carmel Primary Schools.

The clients are his friends and neighbours in the local community. The kids at Yurangai are typically from low socio-economic status families. Uncle Bruce says. “They don’t have that environment at home to be able to study and to focus on school. Yurangai does that.” Continue reading “Ten years of transforming young lives in Waterloo”

Ushering in 40 years of change

If the Sydney Opera House was a club it would need to hand out a few lifetime memberships. Since it opened in October 1973 more than half a dozen front-of-house staff have been with the icon for every one of its ballet, opera and symphony seasons.

While the iconic building undergoes theatre renovations many of these Opera House stalwarts are preparing to hang up their torch for the last time.

After almost 43 years of service Margaret Turner can count herself as one of the longest serving members of staff. “You become part of the Opera House family. [It’s] very hard to give up,” she said. Continue reading “Ushering in 40 years of change”

Sydney Opera House renovation sings to the tune of $247million


Image: John Turner installing the acoustic clouds in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, November 1989. Photo by Brendan Read, Sydney Morning Herald, page 3, 13 November 1989.

Sydney’s premier arts venue will close its theatre doors for the first time to undergo major refurbishments in 2017. These will be the first major works to the Sydney Opera House since it opened in 1973.

The staged works, which are due for completion by the end of 2021, aim to address some of the aspects of the building’s flawed interiors.

After a number of false starts the NSW Government has committed $202 million towards the upgrade. The Opera House will spend $45 million of its own funds. Continue reading “Sydney Opera House renovation sings to the tune of $247million”