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Murder, noxious odours, pig ladies and a rat catcher. These are just a few of the tales of Chippendale's past that leading Australian artists will contemplate in preparation for NG Art Gallery's up and coming August exhibition, 'Sordid Tales, A History of Chippendale.' The showcase will feature renowned local and national artists, to be opened on 29th July by Dr Shirley Fitzgerald City of Sydney Historian whose book on Chippendale, 'Beneath the Factory Walls' will be re-launched to coincide with the exhibition she will be joined by guest speaker Duncan McNab, crime writer.

Artists invited to date include Rex Dupain, Nicholas Harding, Alan Jones, Noel McKenna, Tom Carment, Director of the National Art School, Bernard Ollis, Archibald winner Wendy Sharpe, Ann Cape, Joe Frost, Rudy Kistler, Lydia Miller, Bernadette Trela, Janet Lawrence to name but a few. Historical documents, illustrations, photographs, excerpts from Shirley Fitzgerald's book and interviews with the local residents and artists will be shown alongside the artworks in a documentary style video, which will be played during the exhibition and funded by the City of Sydney. As City Historian for the City of Sydney, Shirley Fitzgerald is a familiar media personality. The author of many publications on the area, and a leading university lecturer, Shirley's tales have provided the backdrop for this unique exhibition.

There are so many interesting stories about Chippendale," said NG Art's owner and curator Nicky Ginsberg today. "Given that our gallery is part of that history - housed as it is in the 19th Century Sydney City Mission church - it seemed natural to celebrate the suburb's past, albeit in a rather unexpected way." Cowering in the shadow of more respectable suburbs, Chippendale was a reeking industrial area, prone to floods and home to both the poor and the purveyors of illicit activities. In 1870, it was voted the unhealthiest area in Sydney. The locals, however, were certainly full of character. Mary O'Shea, known as Pig Mary, would search through the garbage of the slaughterhouses for pig feed; and the equally enigmatic Billy Foset's self-proclaimed skill was catching rats running in wall cavities with his bare hands.

Yet another infamous character was Robert Cooper, a man of dubious morals who owned the Cooper's Brisbane Distillery. Despite his foibles, Mr Cooper encouraged fun and games on the dam behind his distillery. One notable pastime was attempting to catch a greasy pig, which required a great amount of agility, as there was a chance that participants could get seriously injured if not killed. Not to be outdone, latter day Chippendale has its own sordid tales, including the renowned Chippendale murder in 1981 of Warren Lanfranchi, documented in the ABC production Blue Murder. 'Sordid Tales A History of Chippendale' opens on 29 July and runs until 16 August.

To read more from The Australian newspaper click here (pdf download).

To read more from the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper click here (pdf download).

For further information about the Sordid Tales Feast for the Senses to be held on Tuesday 12th August 2008 click here.

For further information, please email ng@ngart.com.au

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