I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 3rd 2013
In the last few years, I've passed Jimmie Durham's 'Still Life With Stone and Car' a few times while volunteering at the Sydney Writers' Festival. The car and its crushing burden sit in the middle of a roundabout on Hickson Road and look as if they have been designed just for this location.
Each time I see the piece, it makes me appreciate living in a city that would create such public art for people to discover, but in the back of my mind I've always been surprised to find the work located here in Walsh Bay, which I associate with the performing arts. Wouldn't it be more suitable somewhere like The Rocks, with all its galleries?
However, the work suddenly seemed a little less isolated when I discovered Michael Snape's 'The Change' further up the road. An abstract work with no clear connection to its surroundings, this bright, fun piece has more of an 'art for art's sake' sense about it.
Michael Snape's 'The Change'
I wanted more.
And guess what? Heading up Windmill Steps, which connect Hickson Road with Windmill Street, I soon came across a tall tower with a bird's nest sitting atop it. This sculpture is called 'Black Totem II' and was created by Brett Whiteley (finished posthumously by his wife Wendy Whiteley, Matthew Dillon and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis).
Black Totem II
I didn't know it at the time - in the case of Whiteley's work, I wondered if it had something to do with the nearby Salve Espresso, though the two didn't seem connected - but these three works are part of a series of eight public artworks in the area, which collectively make up the Walsh Bay Sculpture Walk.
Discovering this fact after a little research at home, I decided that the next time I was back in the area again, I would check the rest out (a plan I have since carried out). For me, the best way to cover all the works is to approach them along Hickson Road from the direction of Circular Quay. This route means you can also catch some pretty good views of the harbour too (hey, if you're in the area, you need your fix of those icons as well).
The first work you see along this route isn't actually 'Still Life With Stone and Car', either, but Richard Tipping's 'Artwork', which consists of two roadwork-like signs that lie on either side of Durham's piece, with the words ARTWORK AHEAD and END ARTWORK on them. I must have passed both many times but never noticed what they said, which is probably not a good thing, but at least I wasn't driving.
One of the 'Artwork' signs
Between the signs, of course, is 'Still Life With Stone and Car'. It turns out the car was crushed outside the Sydney Opera House during the 2004 Biennale of Sydney, and then brought over to Walsh Bay.
After these two works is 'Three Sisters' by Gordon Andrews, which you will find not far up Pottinger Street, one of the roads that leads off the roundabout. It is located in Pottinger Park where it completely dominates the scene.
'Three Sisters', with the Sydney Harbour Bridge visible in the background, just in case you need a reminder of the spectacular setting you're in
Once you've enjoyed this trio of sculptures, you can either keep following Pottinger Street until you get to Windmill Street, where you will eventually come across Whiteley's work, or head back down to Hickson Road and continue on to the rest, making a detour up Windmil Steps to 'Black Totem II' along the way.
The last lot of works are all located pretty close together and you will find them clustered around the vicinity of Walsh Bay's Pier 8/9. 'The Change', as mentioned, is another one that can still be found on Hickson Road itself, while the others are out on the pier itself, and can actually be seen all at once.
The first is Linda Bowen's 'Into the Trees II', which lies before Method Studios. Its earthy tones tie in well with the rustic colours and textures of the architecture around it.
The bright colours of Diego Latella's 'Red, Yellow and Blue' are the next to look out for, with the trio tucked in among some pillars. They're hard to miss though, and reminded me a little of dragons.
The brighter colours of Diego Latella's piece
Finally, there's 'Tri' by Phil Price. It stands alone at the end of the pier and by the time I reached it, dusk was setting, so the metal structure was complimented by the grey skies and water behind it, drawing my eyes out to the rest of the city.
'Tri' stands on the pier's corner with the harbour as a backdrop
An unexpected but enjoyable experience, the Walsh Bay Sculpture Walk has been funded by Transfieldand works from The Transfield Art Collection as well as ones lent by the artists themselves and private patrons. So far there are only eight sculptures to see, but Transfield isn't finished yet; there are plans for more to come.