Five of the best public artworks in Sydney

In October Reko Rennie unveiled his vast new mural, As The Crow Flies, in Barangaroo. To celebrate, here is a selection of five top public artworks around Sydney

Reko Rennie, As the Crow Flies, Barangaroo

Look up amongst the high-rises of Barangaroo and you might see neon pink feathers peeking out against an expanse of cobalt blue. Reko Rennie, one of Australia’s most significant Indigenous artists, was commissioned by Lendlease to create this vast 1,500 square-metre site specific work, As the Crow Flies. The crow, an important animal in some Aboriginal communities, references Rennie’s heritage as a Kamilaroi man. The bright colours, meanwhile, are a nod towards his urban childhood growing up in Melbourne. Grab a coffee, sit on the public benches, and soak up the fluorescence.

'As The Crow Flies' - a work in progress being painted at Barangaroo. Photograph: Daniel Boud

Agatha Gothe-Snape, Here, An Echo, Wemyss Lane, Surry Hills

Unveiled in August 2017, Agatha Gothe-Snape’s artwork Here, An Echo looks at first glance like road markings and instructions painted onto the dull grey tarmac. The work, however, is a permanent stamp and final conclusion of a series of performance pieces that Gothe-Snape and choreographer Brooke Stamp did during the 20th Biennale of Sydney. These included conversations and group walks through the city of Sydney, from Speakers’ Corner in the Domain to Wemyss Lane in Surry Hills. The latter, a usually non-descript backstreet, is now the site of a disjointed poem that Gothe-Snape has imprinted onto the floor in neat white paint. Make sure to take the time to read the fourteen phrases, which are a sort of philosophical road map for the city – just look out for the cars.

 Here, An Echo, 2015-17 by Agatha Gothe-Snape. Photograph by Yanni Kronenberg

Tony Albert, YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall, Hyde Park

In YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall Girramay artist Tony Albert pays respect to the Indigenous men and women who served in the Australian military. Four giant bullets – painted gold with white tips – surround three fallen shells in Hyde Park. While the bullets stand for those who survived, the shells represent those who lost their lives for the nation. The gargantuan size commands attention and demands that we remember the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women who, despite fighting bravely at their sides, were often treated differently by their comrades. A moving memorial that serves as an important reminder to never forget.

City of Sydney

Chris Fox, Interloop, Wynyard station

In 2017, the historic wooden escalators at Wynyard station – used by Sydney-siders for more than eighty years – were removed. Chris Fox, who has trained as both a visual artist and architect, has repurposed 244 wooden treads and four combs from the original escalators in his sculpture Interloop, which is now suspended — vast and imposing — over commuters. Weighing five tonnes and measuring more than fifty metres in length, it is both an ode to the past and a nod to the future.

'Interloop’ at Wynyard Station, December 2017. Photograph: Josh Raymond

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, The City of Forking Paths, Customs House to the Rocks 

Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are well known for their multimedia audio installations. For the 19th Biennale of Sydney in 2014, the pair devised a walk from Customs House to The Rocks, downloadable on an iPhone, and guided by the voice of Cardiff. Allowing the city to come to life through imagination, they created fictional scenarios, characters, and experiences, combined with music, to merge reality and invention. In a world saturated by screens, The City of Forking Paths was a new, novel way to view public art – one we may be seeing much more of in the future.

 Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, The City of Forking Paths, 2014, video/audio walk, 66 mins. Documentation of audience participation. Courtesy the artists, Luhring Augustine, New York and Gallery Koyangi, Tokyo. Commissioned by the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) as a City of Sydney legacy artwork as part of the City Art Collection. Photograph: Gunther Hang

Header image: Courtesy City of Sydney

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