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The bling and kerching at Sydney Contemporary this weekend

The fourth, and now annual, Sydney Contemporary 2018 officially opened last night and seems to have firmly cemented itself as Australia’s pre-eminent art fair following the scale down of Melbourne’s Art Fair which has been running since the late 1980s.

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The giant art sale at Sydney’s Carriageworks in Redfern which runs until Sunday actually kicked off with a “VIP” night on Wednesday. The mood of optimism was immediately set by the prominence of brightly coloured and neon works among the hundreds of art works sold by 80 galleries from around the world representing 300 or so artists.

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There may be wage stagnation, a housing affordability crisis and a dysfunctional government outside, but inside the sleek glass walls of Carriageworks, the red sold stickers were being slapped on art works that in themselves seemed to feed the need for optimism, if not abandon.

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Stuart Purves, the director of Australian Galleries, the longest established commercial art dealers in Australia with galleries in Sydney and Melbourne, said its show of 16 paintings and sculptures by Tim Storrier had attracted four sold stickers totalling about half a million dollars in sales by Thursday lunchtime. “Sydney Contemporary has definitely become the pre-eminent art fair in Australia,” the Melbourne-based Purves said. “The Melbourne Art Fair is now fabulous as a boutique event.”

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The 80 galleries paying for a stall at Sydney Contemporary are mostly Australian but also come from Argentina, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.

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Among the artists represented are British brand names Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and locals including Ben Quilty, Tracey Moffat, Reno Rekkie and Patricia Piccinini.

While the big name galleries selling the big name and expensive art occupy the most prominent stalls at Carriageworks, the makeshift corridors lead to where the smaller galleries pay less for their tucked away corners. Aboriginal art specialist, Cooee Art Gallery is selling works by Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford, Nada Rawlins Tjigila and others. Sydney photography gallery Arthere Gallery is showing work by Patricia Casey, Catherine Cloran, Luke Hardy, Michael Jalaru Torres, Asher Milgate and Jeff Amatto, Julie Williams and Sarah Ducker whose work is shown below).

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