City of Sydney’s public art plan

Sep 25, 2013
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Designer

Above: Janet Echelman’s Tsunami 1.26 in George Street, from Art & About Sydney 2011

The City of Sydney plans to invest more than $9 million in public artworks over the next 10 years.

A new public art plan for central Sydney, which could see an artwork span the length of George Street and sculpture gardens created in some of the city’s public squares, has been prepared by international curator, Barbara Flynn.

The draft City Centre Public Art Plan identifies a series of major projects to be funded by council over the next decade. Ideas include:

  • an artwork spanning the length of George Street, animating the voids between buildings with site-specific artworks and placing art up high to make it more visible
  • activating the east-west connections that cross George Street at intersections like Park, Hunter and Bridge streets with large-scale gateway installations or artworks covering entire building facades
  • sculpture gardens in public squares such as Barrack Street and Regimental Square, and
  • continuing laneway revitalisation with both permanent and temporary works.

The City of Sydney has put out a global call for artists with ideas to reimagine the city’s main street. Artists are also invited to submit their ideas for the activation of the east-west connections that cross George Street.

Expressions of interest (EOI) for both opportunities are now open until 31 October 2013. Up to five artists will be shortlisted for each project following the EOI process and given the chance to develop their designs. Final designs will be selected early next year.

The plan also presents a range of ideas the city could pursue in partnership with cultural organisations and private developers, including performance artworks, a new city-to-city art exchange, establishing Sydney’s first official artist-in-residence program and ensuring major new developments meet design excellence standards and incorporate high-quality public artworks wherever possible.

In developing the plan, Flynn consulted with international experts, City Design staff, the Public Art Advisory Panel and the Design Advisory. The group of curators guiding the city’s major public art programs also includes Amanda Sharrad, Aaron Seeto and Hetti Perkins.

A new artistic program in Green Square, which according to Lord Mayor Clover Moore will become a significant new precinct for the city over the next 20 years, is being led by Sharrad. She is working closely with the city’s design staff and Public Art Advisory Panel to develop a public art plan for Green Square.

The Green Square urban development area includes Alexandria, Beaconsfield, Rosebery, Waterloo and Zetland, and is set to deliver 20,000 new homes, 40,000 new residents and 22,000 new jobs by 2030. The city has set aside more than $500 million to make sure the precinct is a world leader in sustainability and design excellence, including the planned Green Square Library.

Perkins is leading the development of the Eora Journey. The long-term project will acknowledge and celebrate the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a series of public artworks, including Sydney’s first war memorial for Indigenous soldiers.

And, Seeto, director of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Haymarket, has already overseen the transformation of Chinatown’s Kimber Lane with Jason Wing’s artwork In Between Two Worlds.

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