From Matisse masterpieces to really good sandwiches, here are five of the best things to see and do in Sydney this January – all for under $35

Absorb six decades’ worth of Matisse masterpieces
Being able to visit art galleries in person is one of the brightest, most soothing facets of post-lockdown mobility. Running until March, this Sydney-exclusive exhibition of Matisse masterworks begins with the French icon’s colour-soaked formative work in the early 1900s before stretching across a varied half-century career that followed. Matisse: Life & Spirit spans more than 100 sculptures, paintings, drawings and cut-outs, including the collage-like 1951 self-portrait Sorrow of the King. It’s sourced directly from the world-class Matisse collection at Centre Pompidou in Paris, providing Australians with a rare look at the artist’s dynamic and influential range of approaches.

Experience a sandwich to remember from Theo’s Deli
Lunch is officially sorted, thanks to new Surry Hills arrival Theo’s Deli. The takeaway-friendly Foveaux Street destination comes courtesy of the folks behind Tokki and Marble, with a tight menu of sandwiches that you won’t forget in a hurry. The Reuben and tuna melt represent playful spins on American deli classics, while elevated takes on the bacon-and-egg roll (including hot chips between the slices) and chicken schnitzel sit alongside a New Orleans-style muffuletta. Vegetarians will love the Up-Beet, which is topped with tahini yoghurt and house beetroot relish, and coffee by Pablo & Rusty’s only sweetens the deal.

Immerse yourself in a large-scale video installation at Carriageworks
No fewer than 44 massive video portraits depict women of different ages and lifestyles in Ecdysis, a free-entry Carriageworks installation from Sydney artist and academic Cherine Fahd. Named after the process of reptiles shedding their skin, the piece shows how women can transform on all fronts, regardless of their individual circumstances. It runs until January 30, projecting these real-life accounts in a darkened space in a way that makes the subjects’ powerful experiences stand out even more.

Catch Jantoje on the Golden Stage
Surry Hills’s Golden Age Cinema is a space that offers many delights. Aside from the offbeat film programming, there’s pretty nifty bar (see their Wes Anderson-named bottled cocktails, also available online) and a performance space. On January 18, the Golden Stage will be hosting electronic artist, Jantoje, supporting his third EP Isolation. Jantoje has built a reputation on “melding the worlds of pop and electronica, thanks to his gloriously ethereal production and emotionally-driven vocals” and will be supported by Jvly and a DJ set from Vnseen. The performance starts at 9pm and entry is free.

Stroll around Doug Aitken’s New Era at MCA
Doug Aitken’s New Era seems almost custom-made to welcome visitors back to the Museum of Contemporary Art after a period of enforced isolation last year. The exhibition is a survey of the internationally acclaimed, Los Angeles-based contemporary artist’s work, curated by the MCA’s outgoing chief curator Rachel Kent as part of the 2021/2022 Sydney International Art Series. The multi-award-winning artist’s work ranges from installations to photographs, objects and vast, immersive multi-screen environments, and is intended to transport viewers to other worlds and realms. Adult tickets cost $28 and kids under 12 get in free.

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