Collaborating with Place Management NSW and The Rocks, Art Pharmacy developed the overarching narrative, Revival and Renewal, as the guiding theme for a series of art installations in different areas of the Rocks.
With an emphasis on diverse perspectives and the contemporary, we used our close ties with the local artistic community to commission five artists to respond to this narrative.
The outcome is a series of activations that reflect a diverse breadth of storytelling, giving visitors a fresh point of view, a new edge and sense of play while also speaking to the history of the site.
With the artworks being installed as Sydney comes out of over 100 days of lockdown, the project adds a sense of excitement, delight and revival to the area.
Gibbs is a proud Barkindji woman who grew up in Dubbo, NSW and currently lives and works between Sydney and Kandos, NSW. Both artist and activist, Gibbs’ practice examines dual histories, focusing on past and present Aboriginal cultural narratives.
The dual sensitivities of caring for a Country and fighting injustice is an interesting tension that Gibbs explores. This work is inspired by Aboriginal Female ancestors and the resurgence of the female matriarch who fights for Country and community. The artwork imagery is drawn from seeds, nuts, plants, and medicine. The spirits represented in these drawings reflect the many roles that women hold: Grandma, Aunty, sister, daughter, niece, mother, life giver and baby. Women have been the backbone of ancient and contemporary culture since the beginning of time; this work explores ancient Aboriginal cultural practices that are embedded in the sustainable and ongoing care of our Country and in our communities.
Vincent is a Sydney-based designer focused on minimalist aesthetics, simplicity in shapes, new technologies and durability. Buret develops unique designs originating between the fine line of functionality and aesthetics. He uses only Australian materials and only works with local manufacturers.
On the land of the Gadi clan, The Rocks / Tallawoladah has been witness to Eora nation peoples, convicts, soldiers and sailors to today’s wanderers and international visitors. Enlightened Reflections is an interplay of mirrored triangles and colours framing the entry to a laneway that marks the distinct character of this area. This light sculpture reflects onto all the passers-by of this space. Shaped and formed within the archway and lane, it invites the viewer to become the centre of it and to start their own narrative.
Rochelle is an artist and senior lecturer at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture. Her practice engages with painting, installation and movement to explore relationships between bodies and the physical environments working with dancers and choreographers, her works investigate space structured around the sensation of the moving body. Haley is interested in expanding the colour field of painting and exploring the intersection between the body, architecture and abstraction, experimenting with the boundaries to discover how movement can be expressed and felt by audiences.
Taking cues from the architectural features of the historical Surgeons Court, the installation repeats motifs in positive and negative forms in bright and lively colours. The design emphasises the sense of passage through to Nurses Walk. These laneways are named to pay respect to the former Sydney Hospital that was on this site between 1788 – 1816. The installation glows in different conditions, producing striking shadows, highlighting the play of coloured light both during the day and at night. Haley has created a vibrant experience, encouraging exploration and the discovery of a local place for all Sydneysiders.
Goldberg Aberline Studio x Graham Toomey
Saltwater Country is a collaborative artwork between Goldberg Aberline Studio (GAS) and Graham Toomey, an Indigenous artist of the Wurrumunga Clan of the Wiradjuri nation and the Wongaibon nation. GAS who are based in Sydney and have an international practice, are best known for their unique fabric based sculptural works.
The result of unique co-design, with exchanges of stories and ideas, a series of lanterns were designed that represent the spirit of the Gadi people, Saltwater people. The artworks were designed by hand and then printed on a new textile created from 100% recycled PET drinking bottles. The lanterns are illuminated from within, and are very light – made with strong fibre-glass and aluminium rods. This work shines a light on the rich history and ongoing cultural spirit of Aboriginal people on Sydney Harbour. The Rocks / Tallawoladah area holds rich culture and history that reaches back tens of thousands of years, reflecting the oldest, ongoing, living culture in the world. Saltwater Country illuminates this very real presence and the endurance of First Nations culture.
Jason is an Aboriginal artist of the Biripi nation, currently living and working on both Gadigal country and Wiradjuri country. Wing’s work questions our understanding of history and of our current socio-political reality.
The mural is a testimony to Pemulwuy – one of thousands of significant Aboriginal leaders in New South Wales. Pemulwuy was an Aboriginal man born around 1750 who frequented the area of Botany Bay, NSW. He is noted for his 12 year leadership in uniting many clans to resist the British invasion of Australia. Pemulwuy is believed to be Bidjigal, the original people of the wider Toongabbie and Parramatta region of Sydney. During 1790, Pemulwuy persuaded multiple Aboriginal mobs to join his campaign against the British invaders.
The five engaging and historically significant installations tell a story of Revival and Renewal for all visitors to The Rocks. Each piece brings a night to day activation, captivating audiences to experience something new depending on the time of day. The temporary activation will be featured for one year, between October 2021 – October 2022.