Sydney-based artist Carla Ruffino is so talented that she counts Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron as fans. She’s the perfect person to ask where to go for artistic inspiration and to do your own arts and crafts in Sydney. She says she appreciates that each of the city’s suburbs has its own vibe and distinct energy.
“Hailing from Queensland, I still don’t feel quite at home in Sydney,” she says. “After 12 years, I still carry with me the outsider’s perspective of being constantly awed by her beauty. The fluid curves of her sapphire waters, the dazzling of the Illawarra Flame trees and the unicorn lilacs of the jacarandas that line the streets. I just never tire of the visual feast that is my city.”
As for where she goes for artistic inspiration, she says she finds it in unexpected back streets in new suburbs, the cliffs from Bondi to Maroubra and the winding Hermitage Foreshore walk, where you can see the city, but still feel like you’ve been whisked away to a distant national park among mangroves and hidden swim spots.
“I find being in nature is the magical remedy to kickstart the inspiration, and Centennial Park, very handily close to my house, is the perfect place to mentally switch off and visually switch on,” she says.
“Early mornings, when the mist is rising from the surface of the ponds and the smell of eucalyptus surrounds you, is just sublime. I never tire of my walks here.”
Ahead, Ruffino shares where she recommends you go in Sydney to make your own art, including Peach Black Gallery, where she herself recently exhibited. You can buy her art through Carla Ruffino website here.
The National Art School, Darlinghurst
“When I lived in Darlinghurst, I was a regular at the life drawing at The National Art School, which has a well-equipped and well-lit atelier and a rotation of very professional life models,” Ruffino says.
“It’s $25 for a casual drop-in class. They don’t offer any formal tuition and you can just draw at your own pace. Even though this historical building holds an atmosphere of the professional artist, by no means feel intimidated to join in.”
Tap Gallery, Surry Hills
“For a more eclectic drawing experience, Tap Gallery in Surry Hills abounds with artistic characters and a fun vibe, and a glass of wine whilst drawing is always good to get the creative juices flowing. They pride themselves on the grassroots support of the Sydney Art scene. The classes are run by the always entertaining flame-haired Lesley Dimmick.”
Peach Black Gallery, Chippendale
“When I can sneak out of the house, I go to either a Saturday morning or Wednesday night class at Peach Black Gallery, where I recently exhibited, for a life drawing class. Matteo offers tuition for those who request it, but otherwise, it’s a drop-in 2-hour class of timed poses. He has a constant rotation of diverse models.”
The Sydney Art Store, Botany
“One of my favourite things to do is just wander around The Sydney Art Store in Botany. It’s a family-owned business, and all the staff are knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful. I can lose time just looking at and touching things and imagining new ways to incorporate them into my work. I find art supply stores to be super inspiring. It’s like a candy store for artists.”
The Pottery Shed, Surry Hills
“For something a bit different, I love The Pottery Shed in Surry Hills. The workshop is a beautiful space tucked behind Crown Street, where you can learn the basics of pottery. It’s really welcoming for all levels, you can work up a messy, abstract pot or the instructor can be more hands on to help you create something a bit more polished. It has a really fun, laid-back vibe.”