Larger than life: 3 artists on seeing their work displayed across the city

As the 2nd creative hoardings program begins, artists reveal the surreal joy of seeing their art super-sized and in a whole new context.

In 2016 we sought design concepts to be used on protective structures, called hoardings, at construction sites. We wanted to enliven our streets and provide more opportunities for artists to show their work in very visible, unexpected spaces. We received more than 520 entries and after 2 rounds of shortlisting, we licensed 10 artworks. Each winning artist received $11,400. The program proved such a hit with locals and visitors, we’re about to do it again.

We checked-in with the artists to find out what it was like seeing their work on hoardings in such a large scale.

Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso, Eggpicnic

Stop the bus!

The sight of an 8-metre-high cockatoo in the city would stop most in their tracks. But for the artist who’d hand-drawn the original image it was literally breathtaking. Camilla De Gregorio is half of design duo Eggpicnic, advocates of wildlife preservation and particularly fond of birds.

“I was on the bus, at Town Hall, and I see this email that our hoarding is up at Kent Street,” De Gregorio said. “I told the bus driver to stop, I got off and then 2 blocks away I could see this giant cockatoo. I started running, I get there and I completely lose my breath. I felt like I’d won an Oscar! I was standing alone in complete awe for ages, watching how others were taking selfies and videos of my bird.”

'Birds of Australia' by Eggpicnic

“We were so surprised to have our work selected. We were screaming and laughing,” De Gregorio said, referring to her partner Christopher Macaluso. Their studio’s original intention to reach a wider audience in the name of awareness was taken to extremes when Birds of Australia appeared in large format.

“We strongly believe that to ensure their protection we need to get people to fall in love with birds. When we moved to Sydney I was so impressed with the wildlife and the interaction Australians have with it. It’s quite unique.”

The reaction from the public has been surprising.

“People come up to us and say ‘You guys are the hoardings guys - we love you!’” De Gregorio said.

Birdwatching groups take their tours to the construction sites (seriously!). And visitors from around the world even send emails of thanks.

“Our business has really grown. We’ve had massive exposure and we’re no longer keeping up with orders so we’ve had to stop outsourcing our fine art prints and bought our own printer.”

On a more heart-tugging note, 1 mum with a baby approached De Gregorio to tell her that the hoarding opposite her IVF clinic had helped temper her stress levels through her treatments.

Timothy Harland

A labour of love leads to a bucket list trip

The impact of the creative hoardings runs from emotional to financial. Photographer Timothy Harland has returned from a bucket-list trip capturing epic landscape images around the British Isles, funded entirely by his prize money. His winning entry, much like Eggpicnic’s, intends to bring city dwellers closer to the beauty and potential tragedy of the modern natural world. His work depicts a photographic panorama of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentinian Patagonia.

Made from more than 50 different shots taken (in nightmare conditions) from a boat, then painstakingly ‘stitched’ together in Photoshop, Harland’s The Terminal Face of the Perito Moreno Glacier was a labour of love.

'The Terminal Face of the Perito Moreno Glacier' by Timothy Harland

“I totally re-worked it after the first submission,” Harland said. “They liked it but the modular nature of the hoardings - made up of 4 to 5 panels - meant I was concerned about them not matching up properly. I re-stitched it so all the joining panels were symmetrical. It’s supposed to look like this continuous glacier. It’s 2 kilometres long and 70 metres high in reality.” Harland’s first hoarding in Wentworth Park, Glebe, was 100 metres long.

Neil McCann, also known as Captain Pipe

Stadium rock

Neil McCann, also known as Captain Pipe, ordinarily works on a much smaller scale. He enjoys the intimacy of drawing 3- to 4 centimetre characters.

“I was a bit embarrassed when I saw it,” he said. “There’s an intimacy to doing a drawing then suddenly it’s like, whallop! Stadium rock!”

McCann’s hoarding depicts a colourful party scene where various beasts make, create and build. It’s a series of origin stories with a few hidden messages. The artist is driven by the question of how we generate our own myths and realities.

“Dealing with the chaos that is being born without asking for it… the non- consensual nature of your own existence," he said.

One of McCann's original drawing

As well as seeing the public’s response to his hoarding on Instagram, McCann has enjoyed seeing in-situ reactions like children stopping to laugh at his beasts’ lobster hands. His favourite reaction, though, was the disappearance of 2 large panels from a hoarding in Chippendale. “The ultimate compliment!” he said.

'Real Myth' by Captain Pipe

How you can get involved

We’re now taking submissions for a fresh round of art for the creative hoardings program.

If you’ve got the skills to create large format works, check out our brief.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Australian artists once again go to lengths and reach great heights for this large-format opportunity.

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