Church was never like this. Stern, disapproving, thin-lipped faces, cameo brooches, Brylcreem and Bible-bashing seems to have given way to a more genteel, understated approach at the Uniting Church’s Bondi Beach Mission.

Otherwise known as Chapel By The Sea, an offshoot of North Bondi Wesley Church, part of the mission seems to be culture. It’s got progressive written all over it. If not that, some inscrutable tags by graffitists, at least.

Until June 3, you can view the sometimes gritty and streetwise, often contemplative and melancholic, fine art photography of Bobbi Setter. She’s sharing exhibition space with Sage Parker.

On Wednesday, April 28, Ruby’s Place Performance Cafe (to give it its full due) — another colourful facet of this multifarious spiritual and artistic endeavour — will play host to Sydney eastern music specialists (a bit further east than Bondi, one assumes) Maharshi & Band from 7pm. Wednesday night concerts are de rigueur at Ruby’s. One can expect “eclectic retro lounge” decor, which likely means the footpath furniture cast out like so many orphans in anticipation of council cleanup.

Nonetheless, the venue is smack-bang in the bulging middle of Bondi Beach and is fast emerging as a well-kept secretive creative hotbed. We owe it all to a slightly eccentric-looking woman in a pretty straw hat and Lee Lin Chin glasses; the kind who might have too many cats, but a quid or two, which in this case, happily, has been devoted to renovations resulting in the eponymous cafe.

It’s all very community-spirited. Outreach on the beach. Go, for God’s sake, by all means, or for a cup of fairtrade coffee.

The details: For the full range of events at Chapel By The Sea — at 95 Roscoe Street at Bondi Beach — visit the website.

Peter Fray

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