To get you a little more acquainted with our public art collection, City Art, we’re running a series of short interviews with Sydney’s cultural thought leaders and taste makers. We want to know about their favourite piece and what they think of public art – an ever provocative topic.
First up is Carriageworks’ fearless leader, Lisa Havilah. As the former director of Campbelltown Arts Centre and through her advisory work around Arts NSW’s Western Sydney Program, Lisa is responsible for putting Western Sydney on the cultural radar. In her successive role as director of Carriageworks, she quadrupled its visitors soon after taking up post and brought renowned international artists like Christian Boltanski and Ryoji Ikeda to the ever-blooming Redfern institution. Lisa is also part of our Public Art Advisory Panel.
What is your favourite City Art work and why?
I love the Dobell Memorial Sculpture by Bert Flugelman that is located at the intersection of Pitt, Bond and Bent Streets in Sydney’s city centre. Bert was my teacher at art school and he was always an artist that experimented with form and delivered large scale works that speak to their context and location. One of the things I love about this work is that it is of its time, made in 1979 and is a strong example of Flugelman’s geometric and monumental stainless steel work. Other great examples of this can be found at the National Gallery of Australia and the University of Wollongong.
What does public art bring to a city?
Great public art provides us with the opportunity to step outside our lives, if only for a moment, and reflect on who and where we are. It provides us with a chance to interact with and think differently about our city. It reminds us of our complex histories and helps us imagine what our shared future could be.
How much does Carriageworks respond to the history, stories and landscapes of its city?
Carriageworks is located on Gadigal land. It was built between 1880 and 1889 and is regarded as the best example of rail heritage in Australia. By the 1900s, over 6,000 people worked at Carriageworks every day, building carriages for the state’s expanding rail network. It was here that Aboriginal people were first employed under equal conditions and pay in NSW and it provided the jobs necessary to support thousands of newly arrived migrants to Australia. Carriageworks laid the foundation for equal treatment of Aboriginal and migrant communities. The Carriageworks building has always been home to creativity and innovation. As a contemporary arts institution, we continue this legacy through reflecting and engaging with the diverse and growing communities of Sydney.