Art Month is back for 2017 with a sprawling, city-wide program of exhibitions, events and experiences. As ever, the idea is to lift the curtain on Sydney’s art scene and celebrate our city’s emerging creative talent in its many facets and forms.

“I liken Art Month to a window for people to see not only the finished product, but also the journey that an artwork goes on and the journey that artists themselves live through,” says artistic director Barry Keldoulis. “It’s great to see that earlier expression and the genesis of the artist’s career.”

New to the geography of Art Month this year is Barangaroo. It will host sweeping installations and digital animations spread across areas that are still construction sites. “Often as a city gets bigger and faster, you sometime lose the time to engage with what makes the city great and an interesting place to be,” adds Keldoulis.

The popular Precinct Nights and a host of artist talks will take place, as will a preview screening of the Brett Whiteley biopic, Whiteley, and plenty more. Here’s our pick of the best things to see and do at this year’s festival.

Let’s Talk About Text
Artbank is a vault of about 10,000 Australian artworks purchased over the past 30 years as part of a government initiative. Each piece in the Artbank library is available to the general public through a leasing program. It also occasionally host exhibitions that show off the breadth of the collection. Put together by Artbank curators Daniel Mudie Cunningham and Miriam Kelly, Let’s Talk About Text will present works that use text as a pictorial, visual and poetic painted device. The exhibition includes work by a dozen artists, including John Demos and Eugenia Raskopoulos.

March 16 to June 16

Collectors’ Space
Ever wondered what artists choose to decorate the walls of their living room with? Art Month’s Collectors’ Space program is returning and this time around it’s celebrating the private art collections of a group made up of both eminent and emerging artists. The exhibition will feature pieces from the collections of Archibald Prize winners Del Kathryn Barton and Nicholas Harding, as well as Lara Merrett and rising art star Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran. The accompanying talk, Artists with Artists They Collect, will get a little meta, as Merrett and Nithiyendran discuss their approach to collecting with two of the artists who feature in their personal collections.

March 1–16
Artists with Artists They Collect is on March 4 at 3pm

Sirius tour
Take a tour of this brutalist icon before its potential demise. Slated to be demolished in the near future and replaced with private harbourside apartments, the Sirius tower was designed in 1978 by architect Tao Gofers as social housing. The tour will cover the social and cultural history of Sirius, as well as its architectural and design significance for the city and the brutalist genre. Gofers will also discuss the timber artwork that features in the building’s communal Phillip Room, which he created with artist Penny Rosier. Bring along your pencils and sketch pad, too – 90-year-old Sirius resident Myra Demetriou will sit for a portrait-drawing session in the Phillip room at the conclusion of the tour.

March 11–25, 10am

Whiteley pre-release screening
Directed by James Bogle, Whiteley tells the story of the rebel, genius and visionary Brett Whiteley via archival footage spanning four decades of his life. The biopic will be a revealing portrait of extreme passion and chaos, following the Sydney painter and sculptor’s artistic process and life. The film also underscores the importance of nurturing young Australian art talent – which is at the heart of Art Month.

March 13, 6.30pm

after pARTy
It may be true that no one throws a party quite as cool as the art crowd. Created by Sydney art enthusiasts Nerida Ross and Anna May Kirk, after pARTy is the place to go to post art opening. “It’s been a really fun opportunity to give emerging artists – particularly performance artists – an opportunity to present work outside of a gallery context,” says Ross. Hosted at Freda’s, the Art Month edition will feature Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, and will be the official (unofficial) after party to the launch of Art Month and the Chippendale Precinct Night.

March 1, 8pm–late

Art Month runs from March 1−20.