Monthly Archives: August 2017

Liminal visual delight in the city

Birds of Australia. Artwork by Egg Picnic.

Sometimes living in a big, vibrant, noisy and expanding city like Sydney has some surprising moments. Like when you come across one of the City of Sydney-commissioned artworks on an enormous building site. The city is full-to-bursting with cranes and construction of all kinds at the moment as the land and sky scape eternally changes around us.

I call these moments of seeing things like this ‘acts of liminal visual delight’. They’re fleeting and precarious. They exist in snippets of in-between time. On a threshold of before and after. And they’re a little bit ephemeral too. Once the building is complete and the scaffolding dismantled, the artworks will be gone. And ‘visual delight’, because works like this one (see photo above and below), Birds of Australia by Egg Picnic, are a splash of lively colour on what would otherwise be a bland old black or white external hoarding outside this Bay St, Glebe residential building site. Pleasure, joy, thrill, delight.

This sense of precariousness is communicated in another way too. Egg Picnic’s work was created to remind us of the vulnerable nature of Australia’s wildlife. Birdwatchers and designers, Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso (aka Egg Picnic), want us to look at the artwork. To notice it. To take a moment out of our busy day to marvel at the kooky bird life that inhabits our big brown land. Australia, home to the quirky kookaburra with their chortling evening laughter. The squawking cockatoo. The swooping magpie.

Birds of Australia

Having colourful art hoardings like these on building sites all over Sydney does something a little bit magical. It alters the zeitgeist of the city. It uplifts and reshapes it. It includes creativity into the everyday, the unexpected, and even the usually ugly.

Acts like this add colour and movement, and create moments of contemplation. They allow for the development of another dimension to city living. More than just commerce, cities are for people are for the natural environment in which the city sits and is surrounded. We need uplifting junctures like this to remind us of our connectivity with others and our natural world.

There are 10 new works like this being commissioned for building sites all of Sydney. What’s really heartening is that the City of Sydney received more than 520 submissions of artwork to be part of their plan to inject more art into the city. I’m going to look out for the 10 that made it through. I suspect it will be a bit like bird watching.

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