Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Artists' Balls

Fancy dress balls were a regular highlight for Sydney's artists and bohemians from the 1880s though the alcoholic excesses and boisterous behaviour often lead to police intervention.


Scandalous nights - Sydney's artists' balls


Artists' balls have had a long tradition in Sydney; the first one was held as early as 1881 in the Garden Palace at the Royal Botanic Gardens after the International Exhibition. Taking their cue from their outrageous counterparts in Europe, the balls were attended by thousands of party-goers, raising money for charities and scholarships for young artists along with the ire of Sydney authorities. One in particular was the infamous 1924 ball at Sydney Town Hall, described by the 'Queen of Bohemia', Dulcie Deamer, as a 'Night of Great Scandal'

A Short History of the Black and White Artists' Club

CC BY-SA 2.0

The Society of Australian Black and White Artists was the first association of newspaper artists in the world. From 1924 to 1946, it hosted over 20 Black and White Artists' balls around Sydney, raising money and causing public scandal. The Black and White Artists' Club or the Australian Cartoonists' Association (as it is now known) has around 300 members