Urban undercurrents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Sydney is shaped by water - the ocean at its eastern edge, the harbours and bays that define its centre, and the tracery of rivers and dams that constitute its catchment area to the west. Much public art has made use of this elemental medium to transform or anchor experiences of place. While some of the post-WWI and WWII spectacular monuments used water to commemorate Australian experiences of war in Europe and North Africa, recent public art has traded global imaginaries in densely urban precincts for a re-engagement with place, nature and ecology at the edge of urban and suburban settings. This paper will investigate means by which selected recent artists and projects have used water to interpret new public art policies and/or bypass art-deficient urban designs. In zones of flux and uncertainty, historical, phenomenological and ecological themes are explored, as is the observation that infrastructure-integrated public art can enable the interested viewer to experience the breadth and specificities of an otherwise-alienating sprawling metropolis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalUrban Design International
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental art
  • Fountains
  • Public art
  • Sculpture by the sea
  • Sydney

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