The ​Work of Art

The role of public art in defining a city is unquestionable. And a new layer of artistic expression is gradually being added to the cultural fabric of Sydney.

Whether it’s painted, carved, built or performed; whether it be large or small; permanent or momentary; abstract or figurative; public art adds richness and meaning to our public spaces and to our cities.

Great public art can inspire profound thought and debate, or simply provide an easy-to-find central meeting place for Friday night drinks with friends. It creates singular experiences found nowhere else and is a language all people can speak, cutting across social, cultural, racial, educational and economic barriers. Best of all, it’s free to enjoy.

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The Weight of History, The Mark of Time ​​by Brook Andrew. Commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority as part of the Welcome Celebrations in 2015. Image: Just Breathe Photography

“Art has a civilising influence,” says Rex Irwin, Director of Sydney’s Olsen Irwin Gallery. “It tells us the taste of a time, and captures the rhythm of a city.”

Over the next decade, more than $40 million will be spent creating and delivering a comprehensive plan of creative initiatives that will establish Barangaroo as a major public art and cultural destination.

“The public art that will be part of Barangaroo will be one of the largest concentrated installations of public art anywhere in the country. It will provide a truly unique insight into the history of the place, and create  a narrative benchmark for generations to come,” says Annie Tennant, Senior Development Manager, Public Domain and Public Art – Barangaroo South, Lendlease.

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Arrivals and Departures. An installation within The Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve, with a series of coloured shipping containers each telling different stories from Sydney's maritime history.

Simon Mordant AM, Chair of the Lendlease Public Art Advisory Panel and Chair of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, believes public art plays a critical role in establishing a cultural dialogue within a city.

“Great public art enlivens the community - it creates a central conversation,” says Simon. “For Barangaroo, a 21st century community is being created and it is vitally important that a conversation can happen across the whole community about the public art installed there.”

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about art is that it can mean different things to us all. It celebrates multiple perspectives and gives us truly unique experiences. At Barangaroo, art will unquestionably enrich the experience of this new part of Sydney by celebrating its unique history.

“For me,” adds Simon, “art is creativity, it is beauty, it is challenging. It speaks.”