Christopher Lewis Survey Exhibition

(7pm, Depot II Gallery, Danks Street Waterloo)

Thank you, Alex [Greenwich], and hello, everyone. Welcome to this wonderful microcosm of Sydney.

When Chris asked me to open this exhibition, I was delighted to accept. He's a long time friend and supporter of many campaigns and we have a mutual love of staffies! Our Sheba was a good friend of his Ruby.

Chris has been painting Sydney since 1977 when he arrived as a graduate from Queensland College of the Arts. These works are testimony to Chris' 35-year plus love affair with our inner city - the Surry Hills rooftops, a quiet corner of Centennial Park, the Central Station clock-tower at night and the Burton Street Tabernacle - that has become Eternity Playhouse.

There are also some beautifully observed interiors - the play of light across a chair, the shadows cast by a vase of poppies.

I'm glad to see his exhibition is an official event for the 2015 Mardi Gras Festival.

On behalf of all of us, and everyone who'll see this exhibition, a big thank you to the owners of these works who've generously lent them for the duration.

Artists are necessary for a city and a culture that will enrich and nourish us. Artists can help us see things with fresh eyes and appreciation, and to think about our city and our own place in it.

As many of you will know, we delivered Sydney's first-ever Cultural Policy last year which covers all aspects of our cultural life and explores ways we can support, promote and enrich it.

We can't do that, though, unless there are artists living and working in the city, so to that end, we've allocated City-owned spaces on Oxford and William Streets to artists and other creatives to enable them to live and work in Sydney.

As Chris himself has said, these paintings were made because back in the late 70s, he was able to afford a studio in the City. Too few artists now have that luxury, and we're looking to develop new ways of accommodating them. Our latest venture commits the developer of Sydney's largest residential tower to provide five floors of studio accommodation for artists of all kinds right on Bathurst Street.

So while forging a career as an artist is rarely easy, we are doing all we can to make sure that Sydney will continue to nurture creativity and that people like Chris can continue to offer us their view of our City.

Congratulations, Chris, on a wonderful exhibition, and I'm delighted to formally declare it open.