Here at the City, we have a strong view that art should be an intrinsic part of Sydney and contribute to our everyday lives. The much-loved annual Art & About initiative brings our city streets to life by placing art into unexpected places and our robust public art program, City Art, ensures we achieve the creative vision our community wants.
As part of City Art program, the City is working with a number of curators to commission permanent artworks throughout the City. Curated by Hetti Perkins, Eora Journey: Recognition in the Public Domain celebrates the living culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community through public artworks in the public domain. As part of the transformation of the city centre, curator Barbara Flynn is working with the City to implement the City Centre Public Art Plan. Artists are currently being selected to address the ‘spine’ that is George Street and in a separate brief, the streets connecting the central city from east to west.
The beauty of Australia’s most international city serves as the backdrop to these projects which develop our sense of community and inspire our collective imagination.
Added to this wealth of art is the new permanent artwork I STAY (Ngaya ngalawa) by international artist Jenny Holzer at the prominent new 8 Chifley Building on Hunter and Elizabeth Streets. The arresting work projects some 300 texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, poets, playwrights, activists and writers from one of the building’s imposing diagonal transfer beams.
Informed by the history of the site, I STAY (Ngaya ngalawa) addresses the universal notions of love and survival through light and language. Texts by around 80 authors were selected by Holzer and permissions sought in a collaborated and committed effort.
Although Holzer originally read texts from a range of authors, she was particularly moved by the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Holzer explains:
Writing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors was most compelling; it illustrates that what happens to individuals and groups, happens to society. The human themes here make this public space integrate and honour the personal.
Mirvac’s Development Division and Holzer project curator, Barbara Flynn, have guided the public art process since 2009, culminating in an international competition in 2011 to select the artist. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, authors and their families provided comment, and Hetti Perkins was consulted to ensure the inclusion of the texts was respectful, appropriate and beneficial to the community.
The Mirvac 8 Chilfey Building is architecturally impressive, featuring a six-story open space defined by Holzer’s powerful artwork that acts not only as a grand entrance but as a significant public space. 8 Chifley is also one of the greenest buildings in Sydney, having been awarded a ‘6 Star Green Star’ certified rating that represents world leadership in environmental sustainability practices. Its carbon emissions are expected to be at least 75% less than those of a ‘typical’ Sydney CBD office building.