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Sydney is known around the world for its beaches. Primarily the ocean surfing beaches like Bondi, Manly and Cronulla. The smaller crescents of sand inside the Harbour with their quieter waters are lesser known but much loved by the locals.

Among them is Balmoral, which almost faces the open ocean, partially protected by Middle Head. Sometimes it does feel the might of the restless sea when the winds and tides are aligned. A storm surge can produce waves useful for board riders. Other times it resembles the proverbial mill pond with only a spritz of froth at the margin.

First Light Frano Allan This Magnificent Life Looking into Light
First Light ©Frano Allan 2015

Always, as you look towards the rising sun you will be struck by the massive square bulk of North Head and know what is going on outside by the behaviour of white water at its base.

The mood changes every day. The colours shift. The light from water, sky and cloud tumbles into the retina.

A fascinating prospect for painter Fran Allan, (Frano by signature) as he watches from his studio and captures it in oil and water colour.

Water Warrior Frano Allan This Magnificent Life Looking At Light
Water Warrior ©Frano Allan 2015

He loves this beach and never tires of reproducing its delights. He homes in on the creatures in the water. No, not the fish and rays and jellyfish but the men and women who swim and paddle through its coolness all year round. The images of rubber-capped and goggled swimmers with glistening bodies slicing the waves are his trademark, but gulls, dinghies and ferries are also settled confidently on canvas and paper.

At his current exhibition at the iconic Bathers’ Pavilion (celebrated for its beachside location and superb food from starred chef Serge Dansereau) Frano looks back at the past season and comments: “it must have been a turbulent one.”

The Heads Frano Allan This Magnificent Life Looking into Light
The Heads ©Frano Allan 2015

His swimmers are displayed in water churning with dark blues and greens with lashings of white splashes and spume.

Exuberant images, moments caught, rich with the light his singular vision has seen.

Frano’s exhibition is at the Bathers’ Pavilion Gallery, Balmoral through July and August. You can glimpse some more of his work at

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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We acknowledge the Turrbal people, as well as the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We respectfully recognise Elders, past, present, and emerging, and that Indigenous Sovereignty was never ceded.

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