Palm House Exhibition Opening

(2pm 17 March 2012, Palm House Botanic Gardens Sydney)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another wonderful exhibition in the Gardens.

I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities that make up this amazing city.

Congratulations, Wendy, on another wonderful exhibition - I think the eighth you've organised here in the Palm House. It's terrific to see this wonderful old building brought to life like this, and terrific to see art meeting nature in this Gardens setting.

Every big city has its high temples of art, but it's just as important to have art as part of the tapestry of our lives in the city. This is art that people will come across as they wander through the Gardens, art that is made in the homes and backyards and living rooms of people who might have other jobs altogether.

This is the kind of art that gives a city its real ethos and vitality.

You can see it in the works here - the ceramics, prints, drawings and paintings, the crochet and mosaics. They're drawn directly from individual experience and individual response to the world around us.

Wendy's rightly called this exhibition Dance of Life because, as she says, "we are nourished and inspired by the natural world, and by our interactions with other people and the places we inhabit".

I'd like Sydney to be a place where we can all take inspiration from the natural world and from the urban spaces around us. I'd also like to encourage more people like Wendy and the fellow-artists gathered here, who come out of the galleries and into the spaces like this in our City, people who make art a part of our everyday lives.

It's a great pleasure to be here once again, and a great pleasure to declare Dance of Life officially open. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to it.