A landmark project for Art Pharmacy, “Tumbalong” is a permanent public artwork in the Darling Square precinct, at the heart of Sydney’s vibrant Chinatown.
We were approached by Lendlease with a challenging brief: to create a site specific and culturally relevant artwork with a day and night element, however not so light that it distracted passing tram drivers and most importantly, it had to to fit within an exisiting frame that was ten meters long, three meters high and only 30cm deep.
Working closely with our fabrication team AAP Art Projects, we proposed a 30 square meter ‘light box’ artwork with ornate screening inspired by delicate traditional Chinese craft of paper cutting. Australian-Chinese artist and designer Chris Yee was selected for his contemporary designs that reinterpreted Chinese iconography through a distinctly Australian lens. His experience as a Chinese Australian artist and Sydney-sider meant that he had a deep connection to the history and significance of the area, from it’s rightful and traditional ownership by the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, to the vibrant melting pot of nationalities that use the area today.
“Tumbalong” consists of eight digitally printed glass panels, overlaid with a chemically bonded graphite to give it the ‘silhouette’ look of paper cutting. A white cavity behind the glass lined with LED lighting transforms the artwork to glow during the night. The artwork weighs over two tonnes.
Chris Yee’s design is a celebration of the unique and confident Asian Australian identity that exists in Sydney. Dancing is a universal, cross-cultural and timeless symbol of human celebration. Here, amidst icons of Haymarket’s Indigenous presence and industrial past, characters from Sydney’s multi-generation Chinese community dance together in unity.
Art Pharmacy is a full service art strategy and culture agency. Our Art Consultants are here to plan, manage and deliver creative projects that culturally enrich spaces and tell interesting stories using high- quality Australian art.