It’s been quite a big week for this visual arts writer in Sydney. Here’s how I saw it unfold:

On Tuesday morning I dropped into the NG Art Gallery in Chippendale to speak to Fiona White, whose exhibition titled Misfits I was to open the following night.

Fiona moved to Killcare on the Central Coast about four years ago, where she lives in a pole house on the side of the hill. Influenced by Mexican art and in particular Frida Kahlo, and also influenced by African naive art such as you see on the boards outside barber shops advertising different styles of hair cut, the paintings were pure flights of fancy.

Fiona borrows faces from “just everywhere”. She takes pictures in the street when she’s overseas, or she bases them on photographs in newspapers and magazines. People even send her photos. She looks for “a face that has character, or looks like it has a story”.

On Wednesday I interviewed artist Jonathan Jones, who was selected as the winner of Kaldor Public Art Projects’ competition, Your Very Good Idea. (My Daily Telegraph story on Jonathan Jones.) Jonathan, who used to be a curator of indigenous art at the Art Gallery of NSW, told me that his very good idea would focus on the Garden Palace which was located in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, from 1879 until it burned down in 1882. The giant conflagration, a cinder from which set fire to a home in distant Potts Point, destroyed vast amounts of early historical documents and objects, including possibly thousands of indigenous artefacts gathered from around NSW and put on show in the Sydney International Exhibition which the Garden Palace had been built to display.

Jonathan told me that the loss of these objects has had a grievous impact, robbing today’s generations of indigenous people of the means to connect with many real objects from their heritage. I had no idea there were so few artefacts left.

On Thursday I went to the official announcement of Your Very Good Idea being won by Jonathan, which was held in the rose garden at the Royal Botanic Garden. The Garden Palace stretched, in fact, from the Conservatorium right across the gardens flanking Macquarie Street to the State Library — a gigantic footprint making it the most dominating building in Sydney at the time.

I ambled through the gardens to the Art Gallery of NSW to see who would win the Archibald People’s Choice.

It turned out to be Vincent Fantauzzo and his painting of his four-year-old son Luca ,which Vincent considered to be a self-portrait. Vincent’s very attractive wife, the actress Asher Keddie, accompanied him to the announcement and she stood to one side, somewhat bemused but obviously pleased, as her husband got the limelight. My story on Vincent Fantauzzo.

Going back to Wednesday, I went to St James’ railway station on the City Circle to interview Justine Muller, an artist who was brought up with an instinct for heritage, largely thanks to her mother and father who ran the East Sydney Hotel and knew Jack Mundey, the hero of the 1970s green bans. Muller is, in fact, Mundey’s Goddaughter. Muller’s large-scale drawings were of people she spotted around Millers Point, where vast numbers of people who have lived in the area have been forcibly displaced to make way for gentrification by the State Government.

The drawings were being hung inside glass cabinets along the platforms of the station, and looked fabulous. I’m sure commuters will love them. The exhibition was under the auspices of the Conductors Project run by Tristan Chant. It was the first time the Conductors Project has taken over both platforms at the station, Chant told me. My story on Justine Muller.

Thursday night saw the announcement of Nick Stathopoulos’ painting of author Robert Hoge as the winner of the People’s Choice in the Salon des Refuses. This is a wonderful picture (see left), heartfelt and sensitive, and Nick tells me a documentary is being made about its creation. This is going to be one to watch out for. Unknown

Finally, on Friday, I ducked down to Oxford St, Darlinghurst, to meet Emilya Colliver of Art Pharmacy, an on-line art sales business which has occasional pop-up exhibitions like the one I was about to see. I thought Emilya very enterprising, having tapped into the willingness of art buyers to buy on-line. Emilya said it was only works in the hundreds of</a> dollars that sold on-line, after which people tended to prefer to see the works in person before buying.

Finally, the Australian Museum has a brilliant new show on the Aztecs. My Aztecs story here.

Elizabeth Fortescue, September 15, 2014