Creative minds shape the future of Chinatown

October 21st, 2011



Press release 21 October 2011
Some of Sydney’s brightest creative minds will come together today to launch a public discussion of ideas for a major new artistic space in the heart of Chinatown.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said public art is an integral part of the City’s plans to transform Chinatown. 
“The proposed closure of Thomas Street gives us a very exciting opportunity to develop a brand new space for art in the city centre,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Chinatown is a crucial retail and entertainment precinct for Sydney. We want to encourage more visitors to the area and improve its environment for local residents and workers by creating more pedestrian-friendly streets, new spaces for public art, markets and outdoor dining, and better walking and cycling links to surrounding areas.”
Under the City of Sydney’s Chinatown Public Domain Plan, Thomas Street – which runs between Hay Street in Haymarket and the ABC Centre in Ultimo – is proposed to be closed to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian-friendly public plaza. 
The City is working with the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and an impressive line up of artists, writers, academics and local community representatives to discuss the potential development of Thomas Street as a space for new public artworks, including a 21st century take on the traditional Chinese sculpture garden.
Among the guest speakers will be Aaron Seeto, Director of 4A Centre and Public Art Curator for the Chinatown Public Domain Plan, and artist Jason Wing, who has been commissioned to produce a new public artwork in Chinatown’s Kimber Lane.
Bridget Smyth, the City’s Design Director and a guest speaker at the forum, said; “We want to bring artists, designers, architects and other professionals on board to collaborate on a new public art project that pushes the boundaries of what our public spaces look like, how they reflect their social, cultural and historical contexts, and how they interact with their local communities.”
“Aaron Seeto has come up with the idea of a ‘new century garden’, which reflects the importance of the traditional sculpture garden to Chinese culture, but brings this idea into a more contemporary, urban context.”
As well as creating an opportunity to reclaim much needed public space in Chinatown, the proposed ‘new century garden’ would offer a new artistic space that could possibly house a number of permanent artworks, as well as temporary projects and exhibitions.
The forum, to be opened by the Lord Mayor, will be held at the 4A Centre today and feature speakers including:

  • John Choi, founding partner of Choi Ropiha Architects;
  • Felicity Fenner, Chief Curator at the National Institute for Experimental Arts;
  • Nicholas Jose, former Cultural Counsellor to the Australian Embassy in Beijing;
  • Dr Xing Ruan, Professor of Architecture at UNSW;
  • Aaron Seeto, Director of 4A Centre and Public Art Curator for the Chinatown Public Domain Plan;
  • Jason Wing, Sydney-based artist of Aboriginal and Chinese heritage who has been commissioned to produce an artwork in Chinatown’s Kimber Lane; and
  • Bridget Smyth, Design Director at the City of Sydney.

 The forum has been endorsed by the City’s Public Art Advisory Panel, and its outcomes will assist City staff in finalising upcoming design and public art briefs for the Chinatown precinct.
The proposed Thomas Street closure and pedestrianisation will be subject to extensive community consultation and traffic studies over the coming months. 

New Century Garden – Talking About Public Art in Chinatown
Date: Friday 21 October 2011
Time: 1pm – 4.30pm
Venue: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (181 – 187 Hay Street, Haymarket)
Cost: FREE event but bookings are essential – please RSVP to (02) 9212 0380
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