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Public art to transform Sydney’s City Centre

Over the next ten years, Sydney’s city centre and George Street, its main north-south artery, will be transformed. The transformation of the city centre and George Street is one of the most significant public works projects to occur in Australia in generations, as detailed in the draft George Street Concept Design.

Sydney’s George Street, the city centre’s main north-south artery, will be transformed by public art in the next ten years. Image courtesy of the City of Sydney.
Sydney’s George Street, the city centre’s main north-south artery, will be transformed by public art in the next ten years. Image courtesy of the City of Sydney.

Public art commissioned for Sydney’s city centre and George Street will play a major role in the transformation, as detailed in the City Centre Public Art Plan.

In keeping with the City of Sydney’s commitment to sustainability, light rail will be implemented by the New South Wales State Government from 2014 along George Street as part of an extensive network connecting outlying areas to the heart of Sydney. Reinforcing the amenity represented by the re-introduction of light rail, vehicular traffic will be removed from a section of George Street.

According to the Public Art Plan, in the reconfigured city centre, works of art, comfortable seating, shade, and plantings will go hand-in-hand with improved design and sustainability, creating spaces people will want to spend time in.

To challenge preconceived notions of public art, the research for the City of Sydney’s City Centre Public Art Plan has been rigorous and its recommendations are wide-ranging. Sydney’s public art must aspire to match the excellence already achieved in Australian architectural projects and the uniqueness seen in our landscapes.

A legacy of new permanent works of art will be created to underscore the civic and historic importance of George Street, Australia’s first street. Works of art are sought that will unify the street and be highly memorable—possessing a gravitas and landmark quality equivalent to that of Sydney’s great civic buildings and spaces.

In a second brief, artists will have the opportunity to conceive art to address the east-west connecting streets that cross George Street. The Plan identifies five priority sites for art in the city centre, with works of art for George Street and the east-west connecting streets crossing George Street the first projects to be realised.

Sydney is Australia’s international gateway and only global city. It is Australia’s largest and most densely-populated city, a multicultural village that is home to more than 200 nationalities.

Sydney has been the beneficiary of the achievements of many artists over the years, apparent in the number of works of art already in existence and part of the City of Sydney’s public art collection. The City Centre Public Art Plan provides the opportunity for new art projects to be integrated into the fabric of a city. New legacy works of art commissioned for Sydney’s city centre will assume great significance, become familiar to residents, and be seen by visitors to Sydney from around the world.

The City Centre Public Art Plan stresses the importance of the role of artists who will be involved in the project in its earliest stages and in collaboration with the urban designers shaping this project. The aim is to bring together an amazing group of artists over the next ten years by appealing to the most inventive and exciting practitioners working today. The process of identifying and selecting artists will be open and inclusive. By casting a wide net and insisting on a superior level of quality and ability among artists, diverse and iconic new works of public art will add another, dynamic layer to the impressive array of works of art realised by the City of Sydney to date.

Commencing 28 August through to 31 October 2013, the City of Sydney will invite artists to submit Expressions of Interest for two city centre sites: George Street and the major East-West Connecting streets (crossing George Street).

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