Sydneysider: Jess Scully

    The ravishing Jess Scully on a Tuesday morning. Vladimir greedily took a photo (because I forced him to. Thanks, comrade)


Jess Scully is a spunky Sydneysider. However, this year she is also an ambassador for the Sydney Open, which is a biennial event that gives Sydneysiders the opportunity to explore the city’s architectural heart. To really rub it in, Jess is also the festival director of Vivid Ideas and founding director of Vivid Creative Sydney, amongst other things.

Q: How long have you been a Sydneysider?

A: All my life – I’ve also spent long periods in Vina del Mar (Chile), London, New York and most recently, Berlin, but Sydney has always been my home and first city love!

Q: If I gave you an elephant, where would you hide it in Sydney?

A: I’d let it loose along the Wakehurst Parkway, leave it to wander around Cockatoo Island or take it to Balls Head… mostly to confuse tourists on passing ferries.

Q: Current projects (brief outline):

A: I’ve just started work on the Ideas component of Vivid Sydney for 2013, I’m one of the curators of TEDxSydney and on the curatorial committee for the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, so I’m at the dreaming-up-interesting-issues and hunting-down-fascinating-speakers stage of my year… also trying to find time to finish some writing on the future of design and to do a few fun community-based projects in Sydney over the summer.

Q: What do you find completely ridiculous about/in Sydney?

A: Bad ridiculous – unreliable buses, annoying prepay-only bus zone, not enough bike-friendly-ness, high cost of living.

Good ridiculous – the greatest variety and quality of food in the world, incredible natural beauty, amazingly talented and open people, a huge number of cultural events and opportunities to get outside and enjoy the city. It all balances out!

Q: If you were a biscuit, which would you be?

A: I’m torn between a Kingston and a ginger snap. Also a big fan of Flats – they’re a Sydney company making incredible pressed all-fruit and veggie crackers, their apple cinnamon variety can take on most biscuits. I am also VERY into Dutch stroopwaffels – thin waffles filled with caramel, perfect for melting over a cup of tea – they’re basically the Dutch Tim Tam. Biscuits are a particular weakness of mine, don’t make me choose!

Jess is caught in a tustle between being a Kingston, a ginger snap and a stroopwaffel


Q: Which Sydneysider most inspires you, or, if you like, who is your ‘Sydspiration’?

A: This is a tough one! I’m inspired by a lot of people, here are two;

Levins, who runs Heaps Decent (giving disadvantaged kids music skills), cooks the best food at The Dip and puts on great parties;

Lianne Rossler, an incredible designer currently running Supercyclers and connected to great design, sustainability and community projects around town;

Q: Best building in Sydney [RE architecture]?

A: Such a hard one to choose! I like the old sections of Parliament House, it really feels like a slice of colonial history and shows us how small this State started out… I also love the old 1960s AMP Building at Circular Quay, the rawness of Pier 2/3 and Sydney Theatre Company, and I can’t wait to see inside 1 Bligh St. I used to work in the area when it was being built and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished space.

Q: And the biggest mistake [RE architecture]?

A: The square beside Town Hall just seems like such a wasteland of pebblecrete, and a real wasted opportunity to me. Railway Square also had the opportunity to be a useful/interesting connection point and instead is just a big pointy bus stop.

Q: Your motto?

A: If I had one, it would be from Bukowski. This could do it: ““For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

 Q: Any reccomendations for Sydney?

A: Recommendations for things that would make Sydney better, more interesting? More randomness, less rules. More street fairs and block parties and graffiti and food carts and buskers and movable chairs in public squares and ripping up concrete footpaths for community gardens and take-a-book-leave-a-book libraries and BBQing in the parks and just more free, social life on the streets.

 Q: If you could speak to one type of animal, what would it be? Justify.

A: Turtles – they live for a long time, travel constantly using the currents and magnetic forces of the Earth to guide them, and they move slow enough to notice everything.



The Sydney Open 2012 is happening first weekend in November. Presented by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, it’s not some event in someone’s backyard with a tarpaulin. But if it were, frankly, you’d still want to go. Running from Friday to Sunday on the first weekend of November, all those buildings you wanted to go in but the inhabitants said ‘get ya greasy mitts off!’ (#myexperience) magically will open up. See the site for details, batteries might be included!

 Who wouldn’t like to go inside Queen Victorias Dome?

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