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A black and white picture of Wendy Whiteley surrounded by paint and shrubbery

being wendy whiteley

Wendy Whiteley in conversation with Ashleigh Wilson

At 82, the ex-wife of the late, extraordinary painter Brett Whiteley is a universe unto herself. Join Ashleigh Wilson in conversation with the gardener, artist, and powerhouse Wendy Whiteley. 

In theatre | Talks & Ideas

COVID-safe and event information

The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at the Opera House is our priority. When you return to the Opera House, you will notice some important changes that have been implemented to keep the community safe, which are regularly reviewed and updated in consideration of the Public Health Order prevailing at the time. Please follow our conditions of entry at all times:

  • Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask;
  • As you move around the Opera House, practise physical distancing (1.5 metres whenever possible) and follow the guidance provided by our staff and signage; and
  • Within venues, always take your allocated seat.

Please refer to our updated General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events for detailed information about our ticketing policies. These conditions may change between the time of purchase and the event date. Ticketholders will be contacted directly regarding any changes to their event.

Please check our plan your visit page prior to attending the Opera House for the most up-to-date information.

Pre-sale and on-sale information

Multipacks
General public on sale – 9am, Tuesday 17 January

Single Tickets
Insider Member Priority –  9am, Tuesday 17 January
What’s On e-newsletter pre-sale – 9am, Wednesday 18 January
General public on sale – 12pm, Thursday 19 January

Sunday 12 March 2023, 10.30am

Session runs from 10.30am - 11.30pm

Standard tickets from $33 | $8.50 Booking Fee applies per transaction Save up to 15% with a festival Multipack

Ticket Unreserved Seating
Standard
$33
Insider (Save 20% on this performance) $26.40
Multipack Buy 3 - 4 events and save 10%  $29.70
Multipack Buy 5+ events and save 15%  $28.05
Livestream $15
Earlybird livestream festival pass
(available until 1 Feb 2023)
$65
Livestream festival pass $80

Prices correct at the time of publication and subject to change without notice. Exact prices will be displayed with seat selection. Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times

The authorised ticket agency for this event is Sydney Opera House and Vimeo. For more information about Authorised Agencies, see the FAQ below.

Enjoy the full day of talks online with a Festival Pass ($80 from 1 Feb 2023), or purchase an individual livestream ($15). Purchase here.

This talk runs for approximately 60 minutes (no interval)

Event duration is a guide only and may be subject to change.

Suitable for all ages

Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times, and children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a mask.


“Before she met Brett, Wendy Julius felt it was her destiny to be an artist”

Ashleigh Wilson, A Year with Wendy Whiteley

Wendy opens the door to her Secret Gardens

Wendy met Brett Whiteley when she was fifteen. Not long after, they travelled to Europe to live as bohemian artists in Paris and Rome, then married and became an iconic creative couple in the Australian art scene. After thirty years married, she survived a bitter divorce and his heroin overdose in 1992, when she became responsible for the huge legacy of his work. Since then, she has become famous for pouring her incredible artistry into her Secret Garden in Sydney's Lavender Bay. Wendy Whiteley speaks with art journalist and her biographer Ashleigh Wilson, promising a wide-ranging conversation about breaking convention, surviving tragedy, and how she is so much more than her husband's story.

Presented by Sydney Opera House

More about...

Wendy Whiteley OAM (she/her) is a cultural icon, guerilla gardener, designer and philanthropist. She has lived at Lavender Bay for more than 50 years, the first two decades with her husband, the artist Brett Whiteley, and their daughter Arkie.

Born Wendy Julius, she is the great-granddaughter of CY O’Connor and granddaughter of Sir George Julius, both influential engineers, and the great-niece of Kathleen O’Connor, a painter who divided her time between Perth and Paris. She attended the National Art School in Sydney before leaving Australia to accompany Brett in London, New York and then Fiji. They returned to Sydney in late 1969 and settled in Lavender Bay. Their home, both the interiors and the views outside, deeply informed the direction of Brett’s most popular work throughout the 1970s and beyond.

Following the deaths of Brett in 1992 and Arkie in 2012, Wendy turned her attention to the abandoned piece of bush in front of her home, gradually transforming it into one of Sydney’s most beloved green spaces. The NSW Government later granted heritage status to the Whiteley house and granted a long-term lease to secure the future of the garden, now known as Wendy’s Secret Garden.

She was the co-curator of the Brett Whiteley retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1995, one of the dozens of exhibitions she has curated both in Sydney and interstate, and continues to oversee both the garden and the Whiteley estate. In 2022 she announced major bequests to the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Art School, naming both gifts after herself and Arkie.

Wendy Whiteley

More about...

Ashleigh Wilson (he/him) is the author of Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing (2016) and On Artists (2019). He was a journalist and editor for more than two decades, based in Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin, and won a Walkley Award for a series on unethical behaviour in the Aboriginal art industry. Wilson lives with his partner, a designer, and their son, and works at the Sydney Opera House. His latest book is A Year with Wendy Whiteley: Conversations about art, life and gardening.

Ashleigh Wilson

There's so much more...

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goodbye girlboss

flexmami & jamila rizvi, moderated by jan fran

We know what it's like to lean in, but maybe it's time to lean back? Join FlexMami & Jamila Rizvi, moderated by Jan Fran, as they chat about the next generation of feminists putting the girlboss to bed.

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bikini kill speaks

kathleen hanna, tobi vail & kathi wilcox, hosted by: marieke hardy

After disrupting the music world throughout the nineties, legendary feminist punk band Bikini Girl have reformed. They join Marieke Hardy for an exclusive conversation about activism, music, and women taking up space.

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the war on women

jennifer robinson, chelsea watego, fatima bhutto & mona eltahawy

From the repression of women in Iran to the rollback of abortion rights in the US, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the continuing fight for rights for First Nations people and justice for victims of sexual assault, there appears to be a global war against women.

Venue Information

Performances are being sold to 100% capacity in line with the NSW Public Health Order. This includes all shows in the Concert Hall, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Studio, Playhouse, Drama Theatre, Utzon Room and Forecourt. Please note that you will be seated directly alongside other ticketholders.

Our foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars. Please remember to maintain physical distancing whilst consuming drinks in our foyers.

All Sydney Opera House foyers are pram accessible, with lifts to the main and western foyers. The public lift to all foyers is accessible from the corridor near the escalators on the Lower Concourse and also in the Western Foyer via the corridor on the Ground Level (at the top of the escalators). Pram parking will be available outside the theatres in the Western Foyer consistent with COVID-safe rules.

Transport options

  • We encourage you to use private transport options to minimise crowding on public transport (in line with NSW Government advice). 
  • The Sydney Opera House Car Park, operated by Wilson Parking, is open and available to use. Wilson Parking offer discounted parking if you book ahead. Please see their website for details.
  • Please check the Transport NSW website for the latest advice and information on travel and COVID-19 safety measures. You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a 6 min walk to the Opera House. 

Frequently asked questions 

What time do I need to arrive before the event?

Ticket purchases and collection at our Box Office is discouraged and eTicket or postal delivery methods should be used, wherever possible. However, if you are collecting your tickets from the Box Office, we recommend doing this at least 60 minutes before the event starts. If you have already received your tickets, the venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Please take your seats as soon as you arrive. 

If you are late, we will seat you as soon as we can and, where possible, in your allocated seat. However, to reduce movement in the venue as well as minimise disruption to the performance and other patrons, ticketholders may be seated in an allocated latecomer’s seat. Please be aware that some events have lock-out periods. In these cases, latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance. On occasions, this may not be until the interval, or at all where there is no interval. 

Details of our right to refuse admission can be found in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Events.

What if I can't come to my performance?

Please contact Box Office on 9250 7777 as soon as possible to advise if you can no longer attend. If you can no longer attend because you are unwell, or have been in contact with someone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, the Opera House has introduced flexible ticketing options to help you, find out more information here.

Will there be bag checks, and is cloaking available?

In accordance with our venue security procedures, Opera House security will be scanning and checking bags under the Monumental Stairs, prior to entering the building. Bags will be scanned by an x-ray machine, and staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling your belongings, such as gloves. Cloaking facilities will be open 60 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 60 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. However it is strongly encouraged that you travel lightly to minimise contact and queuing. Any bags larger than an A4 piece of paper will need to be checked into the Cloak Room.

Will there be food and beverages available for purchase in the venue?

Foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars.

The venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances.

Please bring a credit or debit card for any on site purchases to enable contactless payment. You’re welcome to bring your own water bottle but no other food and drinks are permitted inside our venues. Opera Bar, Opera Kitchen and Portside are also available for you to enjoy.

Can I smoke at the Opera House?

  • The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at the Sydney Opera House is our top priority. In line with this commitment, the Opera House will become a smoke-free site from Saturday 1 January 2022.
  • By becoming a smoke-free site, the Opera House seeks to reduce exposure to harmful second-hand smoke, as well as minimise the impact of smoking on the environment, including litter and pollution of the surrounding marine environment. 

Frequently asked questions – COVID-19 safety measures

What safety measures have you implemented?

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of everyone on site, and we are closely following NSW Health guidelines and advice. The Sydney Opera House is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government. For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you when visiting, please see our plan your visit page.

What am I required to do as an audience member?

Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.

As you move around the Opera House, practise physical distancing (1.5 metres whenever possible) and follow the guidance provided by our staff and signage.

Within venues, always take your allocated seat.

For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you, please see our plan your visit page.

Do I need to be vaccinated to visit the Sydney Opera House?

The Sydney Opera House no longer requires patrons to show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Am I required to wear a mask?

Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.

How are you managing contact tracing? 

Contact information is required when making a booking with us and upon arrival at the Opera House, as set out in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events and our Customer Privacy Statement.

As the ticket purchaser, you are responsible for recording the contact details of your guests. Contact information will only be used for the purposes of contact tracing, if required, and will be deleted at least 28 days after your event.

frequently asked questions – livestreams

How do I watch the livestream?

  1. Purchase a livestream ticket. Livestreams are watched through the Sydney Opera House's streaming platform, Stream
  2. We recommend you sign in to Stream at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the livestream to ensure you log in smoothly and aren’t experiencing any issues. 
  3. Once you’ve signed in, navigate to the Stream event webpage where you purchased the ticket, by searching the event title in the search function. You will also receive an email notification ahead of the livestream commencing, with a direct link to this same web page where you’ll watch.
    Note - Depending on the livestream, you may find two livestream options in your purchase. An accessible livestream option may appear, which includes both closed captions and Auslan interpretation. 
  4. The livestream will begin playing automatically or shortly after the designated start time on the Stream event web page. 
  5. You will have a chance to re-watch the livestream for an indicated length of time, which will be made available on your Stream account following the event. Note, the archived recording will be available approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the livestream.

Can I watch the livestream on any device?

The Stream app is now here! Turn your living room into a theatre or watch on the go. The Stream app allows you to livestream from wherever you are. Alternatively, watch the livestream from your preferred browser. 

How to use the Stream app:

  1. Create a free Stream account here.

    To be first in the know when new Stream releases are announced, be sure to tick the box to confirm you’re interested in receiving ‘newsletters and product updates from Stream - Sydney Opera House’.

  2. To watch on a TV or an Apple phone or tablet, download the Stream app from the Apple Store. To watch on an Android phone or tablet, download the app from Google Play.  

  3. Open the Stream app and tap ‘Sign In’.

  4. Start watching on any device!

Can I share my livestream account with a friend?

You can only watch livestreams on one device at any one time.

Can I use my Sydney Opera House account login when purchasing a livestream ticket?

The streaming platform is managed by our platform partner Vimeo. You will need to create a seperate account on the streaming platform to purchase a livestream ticket.

Once I have watched the livestream, can I watch it again later?

A recording of the livestream will be available to watch on your account for 3 days following the event. Note, the archive recording will be available approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the livestream.

What happens if there is a technical issue with the livestream?

The quality of your live playback experience is largely dependent on the download speed you have from ISP (Internet Service Provider) or mobile provider. Keep in mind that your overall Internet speed can vary depending on many factors, including but not limited to: time of day, Wi-Fi performance, other devices/users utilizing your connection, and the strength of the signal provided by your ISP.

Visit the Help section of our streaming platform at https://stream.sydneyoperahouse.com/help to troubleshoot your issue. 

You may also wish to verify that you are using a supported web browser - you can find a list of supported browsers here.

If you have continue to have issues with the livestream during the duration of the event, note you will be able to watch a recording of the Livestream via your account for 30 days following the festival.  

If your issue persists, please contact Support at https://stream.sydneyoperahouse.com/contact/support.  

Note, support is managed by our streaming platform partner Vimeo.