I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published February 7th 2015
The Sydney Sculpture Walk was created quite a few years ago now, for the Sydney Olympics, so when I set out to complete it recently I wasn't sure all the works would still remain. However, I was glad to find the artworks have become a permanent part of the city, meaning the walk is still there for everyone to enjoy.
The walk can be found in Sydney's CBD. It starts at Pitt Street Mall and then heads to the Botanic Gardens, where most of the pieces are located. The setting is pretty spectacular and I can imagine how the walk would have been designed to show off the best of the city to visitors brought here by the Olympics.
One thing that might have been more helpful though is a route that loops around, so you come back to the beginning. Instead, the current form requires you to make your way to and from both ends, but if you plan it right you can visit the installations in the Gardens in a way that doesn't have you finishing in some distant location.
The first sculpture, as mentioned, is located in Pitt Street Mall, one of the busiest shopping precincts in Sydney. It's called Tankstream - Into the head of the cove, and was created by Lynne Roberts-Goodwin. There are actually five different spots where you can see her work along the road and at each one you'll find what looks like two pairs of short lines. Put together, these lines map the stream that provided all of Sydney's water until the 1950's. At night you can see them light up blue, an allusion to the stream still running beneath you, underground.
This work is located outside the Pitt Street entrance to The Strand Arcade
From Pitt Street, you then turn east into Martin Place, where the next sculpture is easier to find. Passage, by Anne Graham, comprises three reflection-pool fountains, representing Georgian washrooms, set in paving stones that represent the larger Georgian House. It's up near Macquarie Street, where a rise in the pedestrian strip gives it an most imposing presence.
The installations in the Botanic Gardens can be done in whatever order you want, depending on where you want to end up. Near the top of Moore Steps (the ones that provide access to the Gardens from Circular Quay) is Kimio Tsuchiya's Memory is Creation Without End, sandstone blocks emerging from the ground like ancient remains. The stones aren't quite that historic, but they are from Sydney buildings that have been demolished.
These sandstone relics come from structures like the Pyrmont Bridge
Folly for Mrs Macquarie by Fiona Hall is on the other side of this first point of land--probably to provide an excuse to pass by the Opera House and enjoy views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge--and looks towards Mrs Macquarie's Point. The work resembles a birdcage a bit, one with a stone seat as its base. Worked into the structure there is a lot of symbolism pointing to some of the follies of European settlement, such as the flora and fauna that have been lost.
Elements of the roof were inspired by Norfolk Pine fronds
Bronwyn Oliver produced two pod-like structures made of copper that sit in gardens along the path around the bay area between the points. They look very organic and are meant to represent something washed up by the tide that has the potential to grow and transform, sort of tying them to the arrival of the First Fleet and the establishment of First Farm nearby.
Palm, one of Bronwyn Oliver's pods
Between these pods, on the path, is Wuganmagulya (Farm Cove) by Brenda L. Croft. Using natural colours, this artwork transforms a section of the concrete with images from local Aboriginal rock carvings.
See what I mean about the setting?
Over in The Domain (not the section used for events but the area within the loop of road near Woolloomooloo) there are glass and steel panels among a series of red gum trees, some inscribed with words by Australian authors. This work is called Veil of Trees and was created by Janet Laurence and Jisuk Han. It refers to the red gums that were here before settlement, and the trees used have been grown from the seeds from some of those original gums.
This work will be familiar to some visitors to the Art Gallery of NSW, which is also along Mrs Macquaries Road
Over on the water of Woolloomooloo Bay, directly down from Veil of Trees, is The Archaeology of Bathing by Robyn Backen. Just like it sounds, this work represents parts of the Domain Baths for Ladies opened by Mrs Biggs in 1833. This area is where you can also see the famous Woolloomooloo Wharf and Garden Island Naval Base.
The Archaeology of Bathing clearly draws on the baths that were once here
The amazing setting of the Sydney Sculpture Walk is given an interesting perspective through all the historic references of the installations along the way. It's the same kind of approach taken by Bridgeclimb, with their Harbour Bridge experience.
If you enjoy the Sydney Sculpture Walk you might want to also do the Walsh Bay Sculpture Walk, which focuses on the piers and includes a few of the streets around them (if you've ever noticed a car being crushed by a rock while you're over in Walsh Bay, that's one of the pieces).
If there are any other good sculpture walks you know about, you could also add them to this list. The only other one I've done is located in Chatswood (details here).