Top Five Feet Launch

(6pm, Paddington Reservoir Gardens)

Thank you, Stephen, and good evening everyone. Welcome to the wonderful Paddington Reservoir Gardens and the launch of Top5Feet.

To call Dale only an "artist" is of course to underplay his achievements in design, architecture, furniture making, publishing - it's a long list which includes twice representing Australia at the Venice Biennale.

The Axolotl team are also wide-ranging and innovative in their work, pioneering processes for applying creative surfaces to metal, concrete, glass and timber, using 100 per cent recycled materials.

Like Dale, they have won many awards, and have worked with some of Australia's leading artists in creating sculptures and public art.

And so they are a great team to create the City's first Art & About Sydney project produced outside our traditional festival.

Art & About has a long history of bringing art works from all disciplines into places where they might least be expected, giving locals and visitors alike a new way of seeing and experiencing the city, and a new sense of the dimensions art can take.

It brings such energy and delight to the city that we have decided to expand it beyond the usual festival dates, and with the advice of our Advisory Panels, Top 5 Feet has become the first in a series of works that will be unveiled.

It refers to the history of this reservoir - or once reservoir! Its limited elevation here in Paddington meant that when it was in operation, only the top five feet of water could be pumped out to service the houses. When it was completed in 1866, it held two million gallons.

After it was decommissioned in 1899, the Water Board used it for storage before selling it to Paddington Council who leased it as a service station.

When the roof suffered a second collapse in 1993, however, a new use had to be found. When my Independent Team was elected in 2004, we were determined to restore the heritage-listed reservoir as public space, and we worked with architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, it has now become the fantastic, multi-award winning park, gardens and cultural facility.

It preserves a slice of Sydney history in a unique and intriguing way, providing park space for people to sit in and a magnificent relic to explore. Dale's artwork adds a new layer to the experience of this space.

Dale's concept, worked through with Axolotl, involves layers of formed glass with encased LEG lights. When the glass is backlit, the light refracts through the panels and creates a sense of unmeasurable depth, of all the water that lay beyond that first five feet.

It's a beautiful concept, and a lovely image which I hope will attract even more people to this very special place.

Once again, I thank everyone involved in the expansion of Art & About, and in the creation and presentation of this significant work.

I'm very proud to formally launch it here this evening.

Sign Up