Art in unusual places is now also surprising us at unusual times. Artworks will soon begin to spring up in alleys, gardens and on buildings when you least expect them, as we bring Art & About Sydney to more people, all year round. Traditionally running in the springtime (September to October), collaborative arts festival Art & About Sydney will for the first time present temporary artworks throughout the year.

To experience it for yourself, submerge into Paddington Reservoir Gardens, where you’ll find an immersive artwork called Top5Feet by artist Dale Jones-Evans, in collaboration with Axolotl Art Projects. You’ll be engulfed by an ethereal pool of water through which a swimmer is completing continuous laps, created by light and sound projections.

The artwork is inspired by the reservoir’s original purpose to provide water to parts of Sydney in the late 1880s. When the reservoir was in operation, the limited elevation meant only the top five feet of water could be used to service dwellings – hence the title of the artwork, Top5Feet.

“It was one of seven reservoirs and is a chunk of archaeology of local significance,” says Jones-Evans. “In a dry land water is essential – so that was the measure of its importance in servicing Sydney’s expanding suburbs, which rose on the hills above the gravitational force of where water naturally flows.

“It’s an unusual public space for Australia, a kind of catacomb of utility – a once water vessel.  I thought the site had poetic resonance and delight.”

An artist and an architect, Jones-Evans loves both the site’s subterranean feel and hydraulic engineering history and the silence and sense of space of the gardens: “The piece is archeologically embedded – that’sthe architect in me. It’san evocation of historic memory in a populist way – and that’s the artist in me. And I could think of anything more delightful than taking a swim in what was botanic drinking water, amidst the hydro-catacomb of this place – that must be the surfer in me.”

Top5Feet is a composition of glass manufacturing, light, sound and animation – filmed at our own Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool and created in collaboration with Axolotl Art Projects. It’s designed to work from dusk.

The artwork will run each evening from 29 April to 24 May.


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