Artists breathe new life into Sydney’s laneways

Adam-Norton-Giant-Badges-photo-by-Jessica-LindsayArtists interested in communities, urbanism and sustainability will breathe life into underused city spaces in a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with four temporary artworks commissioned by the City of Sydney.

As part of the City Art Laneways temporary public art program, have your fortune told by an interactive pink furry ghost or see a biodiverse urban micro forest in the middle of the city centre.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the temporary artworks would enliven our city centre. “These four artworks are part of our plan to revitalise the city centre, support local businesses and artists, and create jobs across the summer period,” said the Lord Mayor.

“While we must continue to be vigilant against Covid-19, including following health advice, wearing masks and staying home and getting tested if unwell, many office workers and visitors will return to the city in 2021.”

“These works will transform many people’s daily experience of our city and add an element of surprise, humour and intrigue.”

Barlow Street Forest by Dirt Witches
A micro forest made of native species to recreate the layers of a natural ecosystem will be a central feature on Barlow Street, by collaborative environmental group, Dirt Witches.

The installation incorporates over 30 species belonging to the critically endangered eastern suburbs banksia scrub as well as beehives containing sugarbag stingless native bees. A series of public talks will be held while the artwork is on display.

“The talks focus on environmental topics from a range of perspectives including scientists, poets, academics environmentalists and artists,” said Barlow Street Forest project curator Vivienne Webb.

“This project aligns with local and international movements to establish fast growing, dense and biodiverse plantings.”

“As artworkers and activists the six of us have come together from different disciplines to try and maximise our environmental impact.”

Ever Sun by Rochelle Haley
Responsive to the mood of the weather, Ever Sun is a suspended installation on Wilmot Street that opens the public space to a sensitive play of light. Visit the artwork at different times of the day to see its full effect. This artwork will be installed soon!

“The work is a reminder of the cycles of life as constant and spectacular as the rising and setting of the sun,” said artist Rochelle Haley.

“It offers an inspiring space to walk and reflect, feel nurtured by colour and light, and be together in public, sensitively, in a way that reminds us of the resilience, necessity and beauty of art.”

We Are All Astonishingly Wise by Katy Plummefr
Have your card drawn by a pink furry ghost wearing a crown and snazzy green shoes on Abercrombie Lane, where you will find the interactive fortune-telling video installation, We Are All Astonishingly Wise.

An interactive experience, a drawn oracle card can be left hanging as a strange portentous riddle, to be intuitively understood and applied to your own experience, or you can scan a QR code to take you to a website of carefully crafted, open-ended interpretations.

Giant Badges by Adam Norton
See a series of provocative and prophetic slogans in the form of giant badges mounted on lamp posts on Barrack Street.

Drawing on archival materials from apocalyptic sci-fi films, pop culture and counterculture, Giant Badges aims to speak to the uncanniness of how climate and public health emergencies have been anticipated for decades to the point that our current reality feels stranger than science fiction.

During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the City of Sydney invited creative thinkers and artists to submit proposals for temporary public artworks that interrogate, evaluate and reorient our civic spaces and how they influence people’s experiences of the city.

The four artists were granted up to $50,000 each to see their ideas come to life. The City Art Laneways temporary public art program runs from January 2021 to July 2021.

The City of Sydney’s public art program City Art ensures that creativity is part of Sydney’s ongoing transformation and public space improvements. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Giant Badges by Adam Norton – photo by Jessica Lindsay