The CBD is undergoing a bit of sprucing with a collection of contemporary Australian artists adding some design to the streets as they brighten up construction sites across the city. The Site Works initiative saw the City of Sydney hold a nationwide call-out with more than 520 artists submitting considered, colourful and eccentric designs. From the hundreds of artists, just ten Aussie talents were selected to kick off the program and create the arty hoardings currently decorating our streets. What is a hoarding you ask? They're those imposing fences placed around construction sites to hide the demolition, drilling and excavating from the street. With this initiative, the chosen artists have transformed these featureless facades into vibrant, creative spaces, and have pushed the initiative to a much larger scale than what's similarly popped up in cities like New York and Toronto.
Both established and emerging Australian artists were the focus of Site Works, with the diverse contingent chosen from across the country, each getting the opportunity to have their work viewed by thousands of passers-by daily. These colourful hoardings will bring to life areas of Sydney undergoing transformation and, on the whole, make the city a more evocative and engaging place to live and work. The lively hoardings are now mandatory on all high-visibility construction sites in the CBD, so you can say goodbye to boring building site coverings for good.
To delve a bit further into the initiative, we had a chat with some of the selected artists to take a look at the eye-catching hoardings you'll see springing up across Sydney.
OBSTACLE COURSE BY ELLIOTT BRYCE FOULKES
Sydney-based designer Elliot Bryce Foulkes applied all his hometown expertise to produce his hoarding design. With the imaginative designs featured on the hoarding representing various existing and in-development Sydney architectural sites, the work is fittingly located at Wynyard Station, which is currently an obstacle course of development with the construction of the light rail.
Foulkes' work typically employs strong typography, language, graphics and space to explore ideas around identity, publication, art direction and design — with Obstacle Course symbolically expressing the individual experience of wandering throughout the city.
Find Obstacle Course at Wynyard Station.
BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA BY EGGPICNIC
Bird-lovers Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso, aka Eggpicnic, merge spirited design with wildlife conservation to kickstart conversation around preventing animal extinction. Currently situated near the intersection of Kent and King Streets (and Bay Street in Glebe), Birds of Australia features an eclectic mix of iconic and endangered Australian birdlife species, serving to highlight the "uniqueness and ecological power of Australian birds".
"The aim of our work is to open hearts and minds," explains De Gregorio. With their work already receiving a great reaction from city dwellers, De Gregorio says Eggpicnic hope their art can continue to "reconnect an increasingly disconnected human population with the environment we not only come from, but also rely on."
Find Birds of Australia near the intersection of Kent and King Streets, also on Bay Street in Glebe.
POLY UBIQUITOUS BY CYNTHIA SCHWERTSIK
Finding the seemingly "endless trail of plastic pollution" was getting her down, Adelaide-based artist Cynthia Schwertsik went in search of beauty within the humble plastic bag. Located at 201 Kent Street, Schwertsik's Poly Ubiquitous appears at first glance to feature effervescent and abstract forms, but on closer inspection images of submerged plastic bags surface.
"I am quite excited that this work is up and around in Sydney, and I really hope that it brightens up the streets," says Schwertsik. "But I do hope people discover the origins of the work and how there are landscapes full of plastic bags. In a way, this work is a recognition of a possible future — so we want to make more conscious decisions today."
Find Poly Ubiquitous at 201 Kent Street.
REAL MYTH BY CAPTAIN PIPE
Inspired by the "bonkers shenanigans" of 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, Neil McCann, aka Captain Pipe, presents his offbeat party scene at 71–79 Macquarie Street. Having recently been exploring how "our ideas shape the way we view the world around us" and how these stories can create meaning in our lives, McCann says he created his hoarding "in a style that was accessible and riotous to look at."
"It was so weird seeing the work so tall — taller than me! The original drawings are only three-to-five centimetres high, so seeing them over two metres tall was confronting. I feel really proud to be part of the street."
Find Real Myth at 71–79 Macquarie Street.
DOUBLE-TAKE BY RACHEL HARRIS
To create Double-take, South Australian designer Rachel Harris worked closely with the folks at the City of Sydney Archives, sourcing historical imagery of Sydney before photoshopping present-day objects into the frame. As her work currently occupies the busy corner of Bathurst and Sussex Streets, Harris explains how the brief was to create an artwork that would be viewed repeatedly, so it was really important to her that the audience uncover something new each time they view the work.
"To me it was really important I created works that would engage viewers multiple times, and to offer them something new every time they saw it. Most importantly I wanted people to have some fun with the work and give them a game to play during their daily commute."
Find Double-take at the corner of Bathurst and Sussex Streets.
STONE JEWELS BY FIONA CURREY-BILLYARD
Fiona Currey-Billyard is an emerging artist, whose films, photography and paintings utilise new media and experiment with the viewer's experience. Having long held an interest in Indigenous art and culture, Currey-Billyard illustrated Stone Jewels to showcase the vivid stone cutting tools that were made from materials quarried and shaped by various Indigenous populations and have been unearthed all throughout New South Wales. Crafted from materials like glass, basalt and greenstone, the luminous stone cutting tools are almost like precious jewels. So, Currey-Billyard depicted these tools as the jewels they are in their many striking colours.
Find Stone Jewels on the corner of Bathurst and Sussex Streets.
A SONG FROM NATURE BY DANLING XIAO
Best known for her daily food-art creations on Instagram, Danling Xiao's work focuses on sustainability, ethical eating and leaving minimal waste. Through her Mundane Matters moniker, Danling hopes to use creativity as a means to reflect on how we interact and affect the natural environment.
"I have complex feelings about construction. On the bright-side it is about progression and making our city more vibrant and accessible for our growing population. On the downside it creates noises, pollution and disruption," describes Xiao. "Through my design I am hoping to remind people of the bright side of our city life."
Find A Song For Nature at 24-30 Springfield Avenue, Potts Point.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE AT NIGHT BY EMILY CROCKFORD
Capturing one of Sydney's most unmistakable icons, Sydney-based painter and visual artist Emily Crockford depicts the Sydney Opera House at midnight on New Year's Eve as glowing fireworks light up its famous sails. The use of colour is central to Crockford's paintings, sculpture and plush works, boldly combining delicate patterns with solid blocks of bright colours.
Describing the Site Works project as "awesome and really exciting," Crockford is supported by Studio A — a local social enterprise dedicated to "providing creative programs with whole-life outcomes for adults with disability". Emily Crockford has previously worked as part of UNSW Art & Design's Cicada Press initiative, held a residency with prominent furniture and design brand Koskela and exhibited at the Underbelly Arts Festival.