By Alex Schechter
November 24, 2015
Credit: Chris Court

In Sydney’s formerly blighted Chippendale district, an unusual sound installation is telling the story of the neighborhood’s past—from inside a hotel bar. Just off the Old Clare Hotel’s colorful lobby, tucked inside a repurposed ATM booth, is a telephone that recites poems when you pick up the receiver.

There are ten poems in all, played on a loop, and inspired by the history of the building (the site was a brewery in the 1800s) and its surroundings. To find the telephone, look for the ATM sign, enter a small tiled booth, lift the handle, and begin receiving messages from the past.

The bar opens every day at 9 a.m. (gotta love that Aussie ambition)—so, as one hotel staffer tells us, “there’s always someone to talk to.”

Credit: Chris Court

As for the lady behind the rhymes, artist Corinne Felgate was specially commissioned for the installation, which she dubbed the “Ode Blower,” and which uses various Australian voices to recite the poems.

Be sure to order a cocktail while you’re there, too: the bar is run by Matt Fairhurst, former manager at London’s award-winning Callooh Callay. Drinks like the Salt and Batter-Y (butter and bacon-washed rye with doughnut-flavored syrup and coffee bitters) have been featured on the menu, which changes every Tuesday; a similar menu is also offered at the hotel’s rooftop pool bar, which opened last week.