Sydney has developed an impressive street art culture, with many of the most famous murals and public art found in the inner city and inner west.
Here’s a selection of the artworks you can find in our local area.
Redfern is a hub of incredible Indigenous street art, with a number of works by prominent local artists.
Download the PocketSights mobile app to take a self-guided walking tour of Redfern’s many wall murals. Highlights include the iconic 40,000 Years on Lawson Street, opposite Redfern Station, which was painted in 1983 by a team of Indigenous artists, including the renowned Tracey Moffat and Avril Quaill. Its storyline honours the importance of Redfern as a living and meeting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The name comes from a song by Murri musician Joe Geia that is a tribute to Aboriginal people’s enduring cultural connection to country.
Nearby at 27 Cope Street, the mural on the Koori Radio Building was designed by Blak Douglas, a contemporary artist of Dhungatti Aboriginal heritage. The design was inspired by Kevin Gilbert’s The Cherry Pickers, the first Aboriginal play to be published. The painting on the side of the Redfern Community Centre on Hugo Street is also by Douglas.
At the corner of Regent and Redfern Streets is a striking spiky sculpture that locals tend to love or hate; The Redfern Bower, inspired by the Bower bird, was designed by Susan Mine and Greg Stonehouse in 2007-2008.
Don’t leave the area without taking a stroll to Work-Shop on Cleveland Street to view the incredible, giant paintings of a young indigenous girl by Guido van Helten, and of local football hero Greg Inglis by Sid Tapia.
SOUTH EVELEIGH PUBLIC ART PRECINCT
A short walk from Redfern Station, South Eveleigh, formerly known as Australian Technology Park, is home to the South Eveleigh Public Art initiative, commissioned by Mirvac and curated by Carriageworks.
Among the artworks is Eveleigh Treehouse, two metal tree houses connected by a walkway that were designed by Sydney artist Nell in collaboration with design collective Cave Urban.
Interchange Pavilion is a sculptural landmark by Chris Fox that references a railroad switch, while untitled (gum slabs) by Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones, draws on local and state Aboriginal heritage and the site’s rail history. The charming Happy Rain – a large-scale LED light installation – depicts a happy-faced cloud with falling raindrops.
Newtown is also home to enough extraordinary murals to warrant its own walking street art tour, to which you could easily devote an entire day.
Arguably the most famous is the I Have a Dream mural, by artists Juilee Pryor and Andrew Aiken, which has even been the subject of a documentary about its making. Inspired by Martin Luther King Junior’s iconic speech, it reflects themes of civil rights, gender equality and environmental activism.
A wander through Newtown’s streets and laneways will reveal many other vibrant works. Don’t miss Promise by Ox King at 8 Lennox Street, which depicts real-life Sydney socialite, Eliza Emily Donnithorne, who is said to have inspired the eccentric female character Miss Haversham in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. King was also commissioned to create the large-scale mural Wyrd Sisters on the walls of nearby Camperdown Park.
The jumble of colourful birds that adorn the Asylum Seekers Centre on the corner of Bedford Street and Chelmsford Street was created in 2015 by local artist JUMBOist.
The rejuvenation of Green Square’s public plaza has included an extensive public art plan, with the City of Sydney commissioning a range of artworks.
Among them are two permanent works that have been incorporated into the design of the Green Square Library and Plaza, after winning an international design competition. The vintage aircraft suspended inside the library is Cloud Nation by Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, which plays on themes of cultural exchange and air travel.
In Green Square Plaza, High Water, by Michael Thomas Hill and Indigo Hanlee, is a statement on our ever-changing climate, transforming live weather data into a moving watercolour on a 9-metre LED tower.
There’s so much more to explore, so put your walking shoes on and explore these fantastic free outdoor art galleries on our local streets.
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Photo credit: theculturetrip.com