Streetware Foley Street & Art Month Launch

(6pm, Friday 22 March 2013, Foley Street, Darlinghurst)

Thank you, Bridget [Smyth, MC]. Hello, everyone, welcome to Foley Street! I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

And a warm welcome to Juliet Rosser, curator of this program, and artists Sarah Howell, Byrd, The Dirt and Dylan Demarchi, creators of "We Are Here", the fabulous art work we're launching tonight as part of the Art Month celebrations.

This mural is part of the Streetware program the City has been running since 2010 and it has given creative types a fantastic opportunity to leave their mark on Sydney's public spaces.

One of the more recent is Reko Rennie's fluoro makeover of the T2 building at Taylor Square.

Now in Foley Street, Juliet has brought together street artists, photographers and illustrators who've drawn on the rich and eclectic history of this area to create this amazing cavalcade.

Each has taken one section of the back facades between Palmer and Crown Streets, incorporating the very brickwork, pipes, doorways and grilles into their work, and maintaining unity with a common colour palette and repeating motifs - including hands and sign language.

The hands refer to Foley Street's namesake, a bar-knuckle boxer named Larry Foley, who's sometimes called the "father" of Australian boxing. The sign language has been included by the artists as a challenge for passers-by to decipher - and perhaps as a nod to the inclusiveness for which this area is renowned.

The overarching theme is one of community celebration and community gathering - which this area has historically been a focus for.

There was the 1888 parade to mark the centenary of white settlement in Australia; there were the war-time farewells for soldiers heading overseas; and of course, unforgettably, there's Mardi Gras!

A map of "We Are Here" will be available from Platform 72 and other creative businesses in the area, guiding viewers through the artwork and providing background information on the events it depicts.

It is a wonderful celebration of this unique part of Sydney, and a wonderful way for us to celebrate Art Month with this launch.

Art brings a whole new dimension to the City and it enriches our lives and our daily experience of our surrounds.

I hope "We Are Here" will be embraced and enjoyed by the local community and visitors alike.

I congratulate Juliet and the artists for a fabulous job, and I hope you'll all stay to enjoy the food and drinks with us.

Thank you.