“I want people to feel visible”: 8 artists discuss seeing their work on a construction site

Learn the stories behind the artworks on Sydney’s inner city hoardings.

Australian artists have been getting creative with our city’s construction sites since 2016, turning dull hoardings into fabulous artworks.

We asked 8 recent artists what it’s like to see their work on a construction site.

These artworks aren’t around for long, so catch them while you can.

Suspended Figures by Prudence Stent and Honey Long

See it at: corner of York and Barrack streets, Sydney

Suspended Figures is a series of fluid shapes created by bodies, fabric and wind. The photographs were taken over several years and are usually displayed as individual artworks. This is the first time the shapes have been combined.

Suspended Figures by Prudence Stent and Honey Long. Photo: Anna Kucera
Come see Suspended Figures on the corner of Barrack and York Streets, Sydney. Photo: Anna Kucera

“We hope our work provides an interesting break in the cityscape and sparks people’s thoughts and feelings about their own bodily experiences,” artists Prudence Stent and Honey Long said.

The artists said the City of Sydney’s creative hoardings program has been a great opportunity to reach a wider audience and display artwork outside the gallery context.

“It’s also been fun seeing our works produced on such a large scale!”

Magic Circles by Kieran Butler

See it at: 208-218 Riley Street, Surry Hills

Magic Circles by Kieran Butler. Photo: Anna Kucera
See Magic Circles at 208-218 Riley Street, Surry Hills. Photo: Anna Kucera

Magic Circles is a dedication of love and devotion to the LGBTIQ communities.

“I want people to feel visible when they see my work, even if it’s just for a second,” artist Kieran Butler said. 

“I hope it also makes spaces that are often typically very macho feel a little more welcoming.”

Kieran said they loved that construction sites are transformed into something engaging for the public.

“Someone emailed me directly to let me know that my work had made them feel seen while passing one of the hoardings. This helped them to express their truth to the friend they were with. It’s probably the most validating piece of feedback for me to receive as an artist.”

Midnight Zoo by Studio A

See it at: 161 Kent Street, Sydney

Midnight Zoo by Studio A artists: Emily Crockford, Lauren Kerjan, Thom Roberts and Phillip Sidney. Photo: Anna Kucera.
See it at 161 Kent Street, Sydney. Photo: Anna Kucera
Social enterprise Studio A tackles the barriers that artists living with intellectual disability face. The Sydney-based studio supports artists to access professional development pathways to achieve their creative aspirations. Midnight Zoo is a collaboration by 4 Studio A artists.

“People can see the animals like they’re at the zoo. There's an elephant, giraffe, zebra, swan and a bear. Maybe the animals are dancing in the zoo!” artsit Emily Crockford said. Emily was the recipient of the Australia Council's prestigious National Arts and Disability Award for an Emerging Artist.

“The fact my art is out in the community, adds a different feel to the neighbourhood and streets. My family was proud of me, seeing my work outside the studio. My partner thinks we need to see more of it, to liven up the city a bit!” artist Phillip Sidney said.

Giant Bonsai by Gary Trinh

See it at: 400 George Street, Sydney

Giant Bonsai by Garry Trinh. Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
See it at 400 George Street, Sydney. Photo: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney

Sydney-based artist Gary Trinh’s work shows the magic in the mundane. The collection of giant bonsai were photographed all over Sydney.

“When I see the trees, I inevitably think about climate change and our partnership with nature. In a construction context these thoughts get magnified,” said Gary.

“What excites me is the opportunity to show work outside of a white cube, in a public space, to an audience other than an art-educated one.”

In the future… I want to be a unicorn by Alphabet Studio and students from Crown Street Public School

See it at: 40-46 Wentworth Park Road, Glebe

In the future… I want to be a unicorn by Alphabet Studio and students from Crown Street Public School. Photo: Anna Kucera.
See it at: 40-46 Wentworth Park Road, Glebe. Photo: Anna Kucera.

What do you get when you ask a group of 5 and 6 year olds to share their future aspirations? An overwhelmingly honest, whimsical and funny piece of art.

Local design collective, Alphabet Studio, worked on this project with students at Crown Street Primary in Surry Hills.

Asked what they want to be in the future, the young artists said:

“… a superhero

“… a scientist so I can do experiments

“… a power ranger

“… a lion dancer”.

“We hope our hoarding gives people reason to smile, think about their own aspirations, memories and future, even if just for a moment,” Paul Clark and Tim Kliendienst of Alphabet Studio said.

BADABABABABBAT-DA by Tegan Wotton

See it at: Pitt St behind World Square, Sydney

BADABABABABBAT-DA by Tegan Wotton. Photo: Anna Kucera.
See it at: Pitt St behind World Square, Sydney. Photo: Anna Kucera.

Artist Tegan Wotton was inspired by a simpler time for this nostalgic piece: the 90s, when Super Mario reigned, and you fought your siblings for a prized Nintendo controller.

Ngaarr by Lucy Simpson

See it at: 570 George Street (opposite Town Hall), Sydney

Ngaarr by Lucy Simpson. Photo: Anna Kucera.
See it at: 570 George Street (opposite Town Hall), Sydney. Photo: Anna Kucera.

Derived from the patterning of the inner bark of a gulabaa (eucalypt tree), this artwork was designed to start conversation about care of Country and the contemporary Aboriginal experience. Lucy Simpson wanted to highlight the importance of First Nations placemaking in the built environment.

"I think the impact visual presence has on everyday understanding of contemporary Indigenous culture is just immense," Lucy said.

Time Forms by Lisa Sammut

See it at: 7/1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney

Time Forms by Lisa Sammut. Photo: Anna Kucera.
See it at: 7/1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Photo: Anna Kucera.

An exploration into how lunar, solar, geological, astronomical and cosmic time unfolds. The artist hopes that when you see this on your daily routine, it will change your perspective, even if for just a moment in time.

“It’s exciting the creative hoardings program is finding unique ways to support artists, recognise diverse and important voices, and disrupt everyday expectations as people walk through the city,” artist Lisa Sammut said.

Lisa is also exhibiting work at the Art Gallery of NSW as part of The National exhibition until September 2021.

Posted . Last updated .

Subscribe for updates

Choose the news that interests you

Sign up
Sign up