I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published May 7th 2021
Sydney Olympic Park has become a giant outdoor gallery space
I've never associated Sydney Olympic Park with art. Sport and entertainment yes, art no. But it turns out Sydney Olympic Park doesn't just have art, it has a lot: there are over 50 pieces of public art here and they make up the biggest collection of large-scale, site-specific urban art in Australia.
The theme tying all these works together is Sydney Olympic Park's cultural history. Predictably, that means many works are inspired by the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, there are also pieces inspired by the site's earlier, industrial eras.
You can find the art everywhere, including outside venues, within the brickwork of paths and in the area's parks. A lot of pieces are conveniently located near Stadium Australia and the train station too, making them both accessible and easy to find.
I found the most sculptural pieces to be the ones in Cathy Freeman Park (the park opposite the stadium). This is where you'll find the cauldron from the 2000 Olympics, which is now a water fountain.
The Cauldron is now located only a few hundred metres from where it starred in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium.
Also in Cathy Freeman Park is the Eight Women sculptural installation which celebrates the women who helped light the cauldron during the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Eight Women installation celebrates Betty Cuthbert, Raelene Boyle, Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland, Shane Gould, Debbie Flintoff-King, Cathy Freeman and Louise Sauvage, who helped light the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Nearby, you can find the Olympic Rings in the ground along Dawn Fraser Avenue, across the road from hundreds of poles in a v-formation in the Stadium Australia forecourt. The poles form the permanent Games Memories installation and are a tribute to the volunteers that helped during the Olympics and Paralympics.
The Olympic Rings have always been immediately recognisable to me but I never understood the significance of the poles behind them till now.
For a full list of all the installations, you can find around Sydney Olympic Park, head here. My visits have usually taken me to the sports venues and inevitably led me to Olympic art but there's actually a lot of other stuff to see. Bicentennial Park in particular looks good, with a lot of really interesting pieces that have little to do with the Olympics.
Cyrus the Great, a replica of a Persian bas relief, symbolises multiculturalism. Image by Siamax, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons