An inner-city street that has played a central role in Sydney’s cultural life for more than a century will soon become home to a giant artwork depicting some of the city’s most significant people and events.
As part of the City of Sydney’s annual Streetware program, a collective of renowned Australian street artists, photographers and illustrators have come together to present WE ARE HERE – a 15-metre-high, 75-metre-long mural running along the walls of Foley Street.
The mural will tell the story of the area’s long association with street parades, beginning with the 1888 centenary of white settlement in Australia and continuing through to Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras celebration.
Using a bold colour palette and a series of repeating motifs, it will also reference local historical identities including Foley Street’s namesake – the bare-knuckle boxer and ‘father’ of Australian boxing, Larry Foley.
Sydney-based artists Sarah Howell, Dylan Demarchi and The Dirt, and Canberra-based artist byrd, are joining forces to bring the mural and its stories to life, using a mixture of paint, collage, drawing, paste-ups, stencils and photography.
The project’s curator, Juliet Rosser, is director of Platform72 – an exhibition and retail space at 72 Oxford Street in Darlinghurst and part of the City’s successful creative spaces program.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Streetware was a fantastic opportunity for creative people to transform Sydney’s public spaces into outdoor art galleries.
“Since its launch in 2010, Streetware has featured exciting new works by more than 20 emerging and established artists – including renowned Aboriginal artist Reko Rennie’s stunning fluorescent makeover of the T2 building at Taylor Square.
“Now, we’re giving Foley Street a new lease of life. WE ARE HERE will give Sydneysiders an opportunity to get to know a different side of their city through public art, with the mural telling important stories from Darlinghurst’s history.”
Foley Street runs parallel to Oxford Street, connecting the northern side of Taylor Square to Oxford Square.
The mural will feature on the rear façade of 82-106 Oxford Street (the old Oxford Street Municipal Chambers), between Palmer and Crown streets, and will incorporate the façade’s brickwork, roller doors, ducts, pipes, bars and grilles.
“WE ARE HERE is a site-specific artwork that speaks of the rich cultural and historical complexity of the local area,” Miss Rosser said.
“Foley Street and its surrounds have long been home to iconic community celebrations – they held the parade in 1888 marking the centenary of white settlement in Australia, wartime farewells for soldiers heading abroad, and are now part of the annual Sydney Mardi Gras street spectacular.
“We are hoping the local community will embrace the unique personality of WE ARE HERE, and that it serves as a reminder that both throughout history and today, Oxford Street is one of Sydney’s most innovative and creative areas.”
Each of the four artists featured in WE ARE HERE will complete a different section of the artwork, exploring a particular event or moment in time – such as ‘before settlement’, ‘federation’ and ‘Mardi Gras’. These sections will be woven together by a common colour palette, featuring bold reds, purples and blues, and the use of repeating motifs including sign language.
A map will be produced as part of the project, guiding viewers through the artwork and providing background information on the events it depicts. The map will be available at Platform72 and other creative businesses in the area.
WE ARE HERE will be launched on Friday, 22 March at 6pm when Foley Street is closed to traffic for the night and transformed into a giant street party to celebrate Art Month Sydney.
For more information, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/cityart
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