Trip: Sydney. 2012.
There is art everywhere in Sydney. I stepped out of Amora on Jamison Street and came face to face with art. Walk in any direction and you’ll encounter art. In front of building, in laneways, near parks, or wherever the city gives enough space for yet another installation.
When I enquired I was told about the plan to convert Sydney into an Art Hub by 2030… they say they will include the Laneway art program, City spaces, Green square and a whole lot of other permanent and temporary art plans and policies to have a ‘sustainable’ Sydney soon. The word ‘sustainable’ did ring a bell… enough art and culture strewn across the city will surely have a positive effect on the attitudes and outlooks of the people who are exposed to it day In and day out. This did seem to me to be a rather sound definition of ‘sustainable’.
Well, for those who are interested, the Guiding Principles for the implementation of public art across the City of Sydney local government area are:
- Align significant City Art projects with major Sustainable Sydney 2030 urban design projects
- Recognise and celebrate Aboriginal stories and heritage in the public domain
- Support local artists and activate city places through temporary art projects
- Support vibrant places in Village Centres with community art and City Art projects
- Promote high quality public art in private development
- Support stakeholder and government partners to facilitate public art opportunities
- Manage and maintain the City’s collection of permanent art works, monuments and memorials
- Initiate and implement programs to communicate, educate and engage the public about City Art
Just walk in any direction of inner Sydney and you are sure to bump into the most intriguing and fascinating examples of art. The best way to do this is to walk down George Street and stop at every crossing, walk a bit in the left and right direction, come back and resume the walk. Do this until you’ve covered the distance from the harbour end to the China Town end… and then do the same with Elizabeth Street or just amble across to the Darling harbour side… wherever you go, you’re sure to bump into the most extraordinary art examples.
From the Lin Li Golden Watermouth a 1999 creation at the start of Chinatown to the famous Touchstones at Aurora Place conceptualised by Kan Yasuda. This piece of art, they say, encourages the connection between the architect and the artist… see for yourself:
Then you see the wild boar or Il Porcellino at the top of hill outside the Sydney Hospital. People rub his nose, make a wish, drop a coin in his basket and have a photograph taken standing near him… and I did the same!
We did the ‘free tour’ with Justine, an architecture student, and the first artwork that she pointed out near the Townhall was ‘Eternity’ written just below on the subway where we stood. There is a rather interesting story to this word, she told us… and went on to tell us all about Arthur Stace who wrote the word all over the city and it was only much later that the people discovered who the person was who was doing this. A website also tells us his story and points out that “he would get up in the early hours of the morning, and leave his home in Pyrmont at 5:00 or 5:30am, after praying an hour or so. He would go where he believed God had directed him that particular day, and write every hundred metres or so on the pavement (sidewalk), as it seemed most visible. Eternity. And he’d be home by ten that morning.
He went all over: Wynyard, Glebe, Paddington, Randwick, Central Station; A very slight figure, 5’3″, grey-haired. He experimented with variations at times, but in the end he finished as he had begun — Eternity. Others claimed responsibility for the messages, for they were the object of a prolonged and public curiosity, the subject of columnist’s review and speculation, but he did not come forward. He saw his mission as evangelistic, but he didn’t want the publicity for himself; it was a thing between him and God.
It wasn’t until 1956 that the puzzle was solved. Stace was the cleaner, and a prayer leader at the Burton Street Baptist Church, where the Rev. Lisle M. Thompson was the minister. Lisle one day saw Arthur writing Eternity on the pavement (sidewalk), not knowing he was being seen.”
To me, the best part of my stay in Sydney was trying to discover as many artworks as possible… and I did stumble on to many. A few that really impressed me were the totem pole near the University of Sydney, the hanging cages in the inner city, the three monkeys on a pub doorway near Chinatown, and a man reading his newspaper!
Not that the others were not good… they are excellent pieces of art and are doing their bit in converting Sydney into a really sustainable city!