OUR Bicentennial year seems to be getting underway somewhat quietly -
on the social front at least. So many of the stars of the Sydney scene are still
away on holiday - obviously gathering their strength for what promises to
ultimately be a hectic year.
But it was fun up north at Hayman Island last weekend relaxing by the
biggest pool I've ever seen.
I spotted two Saudi Arabian princes - one of them, dressed in white, was the
seriously rich Sultan of Brunei - complete with bodyguards. Also there was
Christie Hefner, daughter of Hugh, the preppy and stern president of Playboy.
BACK around the traps on Tuesday night we trekked off to the Holdsworth
Galleries in Woollahra for what turned out to be a monumental exhibition of four
very varied artists.
The star was Clifton Pugh whose collection of oils (the 33 hanging had all
been sold at prices ranging from $1,200 to $25,000) were titled Leda and the
The works have been collated into a book with a very moving poem by Pam
Blaski relating the mythical tale of an emu who fell in love with a very
large-breasted beauty called Leda. It is, of course, taken from that famous
European tale, Leda and the Swan.
Derryn Hinch had on his new hat as publisher that night. He'd flown from
New York specially for the launch but his actress wife Jackie Weaver had stayed
in the Big Apple as Derryn was afraid that Clifton, who dedicated the book to
her, might want to paint her in the nude!
The other artists showing were Cedric Emanuel, whose line drawings of
local scenes were getting a lot of attention, Chiara Goya and Charles Billich.
Then we hit Elizabeth Bay House for the launch of Vogue's Bicentennial
Arts Guide in association with the Arts and Entertainment section of the
A glossy mag, it covers all the major artistic events going on throughout
the year and there are in-depth stories on opera, ballet and theatre. A must for
all those intent on having a cultural year.
Those hoeing into huge wooden baskets of Chinese savouries included Mr
Vogue, chairman Bernard H. Leser, very casual in beige suit and rubber-soled
lace-ups, with Voguettes Eve Harman, June McCallum, Gail Heathwood (who did most
of the hard yakka on the book), Lesley Wild and Christina Zimpel.
Also there: guru of the dance set Graeme Murphy, guru of the Oz designer
set Jenny Kee, Lady (Primrose) Potter, who looked stunning in figure-hugging
floral crepe de chine frock with a discreet pearl or two, Peter and Adele Weiss,
whose Bicentennial collection of products has nearly sold out (watch out Ken
Done), cigar-chomping maestro of the Art Gallery Edmund Capon, who's still
raving about his new role as TV star after his stint in China working on a
documentary for the BBC, Grace Bros Bob Dalziel and John Sainty and the
evergreen Gough Whitlam.
DRESSING up for first nights in January is certainly not de rigeur.
The audience at the opening of the macabre musical Sweeney Todd at Her
Majesty's on Wednesday was a mixed bunch in anything from jeans and open-necked
shirts to the odd glittery number. Fashionable it was not.
A rather more elegant crowd fronted up at the Opera House next night for
the Australian Opera's season of Mozart's enchanting The Magic Flute.
Enthusiastic first-nighters included arts patron Claire Dan, Dr Michael Kennedy,
Senator Bronwyn and Alan Bishop, Lady Cassidy and her QC son Derek and Mary and
HOME and Away, Seven Network's newest series, is a humdinger. It's based
on the torment of a family (adopted and of a wayward nature) whose dad loses his
job in the big smoke and to keep the family together buys a rundown caravan
park in fictitious Summer Bay (it was filmed, by the looks of it, at North Palm
My favourite character was Milko, an invisible friend of one of the brats.
The launch was at Palm Beach's newest restaurant Flamingo's on Wednesday
night. It's a wondrous spot with sweeping views over the ocean. We spent a lot
of time sipping mango daiquiris and leaning over the balcony checking out the
local talent which had assembled to gawk at the stars.
During the coconut-dipped stuffed chicken with curry sauce, there was a
condensed preview of the show. Afterwards, speeches patting everyone concerned
on the back and bagging another new soap about to start on another network.
Those from Seven included general manager Allan Tyson in serious suit,
Glen Kinging, director of programming, in lightweight resort suit, Alan Bateman,
director of production and the bloke who conceived the idea for the show, and
stars Vanessa Downing, Roger Oakley, Justine Clarke, Alex Papps, Peter Vroom,
heart throb model/actor Greg Benson and the diminutive Nicolle Dickson.