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. We want to know about their favourite piece and what they think of public art – an ever provocative topic.
This month, we ask the man behind the city’s biggest summer festival. This year’s Sydney Festival director is Wesley Enoch. Before joining the festival at the helm, Enoch directed 6 shows for it, including Black Diggers and I am Eora.
What is your favourite City Art work and why?
I call it the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, but I didn’t realise its full name is actually ‘J.F. Archibald Memorial Fountain’. It resonates with many events throughout history. J. F. Archibald was the owner/publisher of The Bulletin Magazine and a huge lover of art and culture. He bequeathed the money in his will to build the fountain and to also fund the portraiture prize that bears his name.
Archibald wanted to make a connection with France and believed that post-war Sydney should aspire to replicate some of the best civil design elements of Paris, so a French sculptor named François–Leon Sicard was selected to design the fountain. The fountain was completed in 1926 but didn’t get installed until 1932 and even today, almost 100 years after his death, Archibald still stimulates debate and discussion.
What is your vision for Sydney Festival 2017?
Sydney Festival is a cultural accelerator where you see a concentration of offerings that are designed to express our civic aspirations and personality. The festival is the place where you explore your relationship with your city. You see the best of the world at Sydney Festival, with amazing art from all corners.
What do you want to see more of in our city’s cultural sector?
Bravery. I sometimes think we are playing it safe. Sydney is a cosmopolitan megacity that rewards the curious and promotes in its citizens a sense of innovation and ambition. Like the fountain, the cultural sector needs to be bold and offer new perspective, to write new pages of history that we will look back on and feel pride.