Windgrid Opening

(5pm, Thursday 20 September, Taylor Square)

Thank you. Hello, everyone. I acknowledge the original custodians of our land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present. I also acknowledge the people of the 200 nations who live in our city.

A warm welcome also to the artists Reko Rennie and Tim Knowles who have given us two fabulous artworks as part of our Streetware program.

The program is designed to give emerging artists the opportunity to show their work in the public domain and this year, Streetware's focus is here, around Oxford Street and Taylor Square.

Reeko has used the 1910 former Commonwealth Bank building as the canvas for his work, Always was, always will be.

Exploring what it means to be an urban Aboriginal in contemporary Australia, the geometric diamonds covering the building refer to the traditional markings of the Kamilaroi people and Reko's associations with north-western NSW. The neon text across the front of the building speaks for itself, demanding that we, too, think about our relationship with this place, and with its first inhabitants.

The neon and fluoro paints are a wonderfully defiant expression of how Aboriginal culture can survive, adapt and appropriate while maintaining its unique identity into the 21st century.

WindGrid uses that universal element - the wind - to create a constantly-shifting ceiling across Taylor Square. The paper-plane shapes will act as tiny weather vanes, with their shadows shifting in the shifting winds, moving singly and yet in unison, much like a flock of birds.

As Tim has said, the wind is an element beyond our control, a global force in constant flux, shaping our landscapes and our economies. It was wind-power, after all, that brought the first Europeans to Sydney, and that creates much of the ethos of Sydney, whether it's the scorching winds that come from the west, or the welcome blast of a southerly buster at the end of a long summer day.

In tandem with this installation, Tim is inviting you to take part in a walk through the city, guided by the wind. In a helmet fixed with a weathervane, you'll meander on a path tracked by a GPS device.

This will feed back to a large screen in a WindLab at the National Art School, to produce a web-like drawing mapping your movements. WindLab will also present Tim's artworks, videos, images and stories and is open to visitors from August 30 to October 13.

On behalf of the City, I'd like to thank both these thought-provoking artists for their work, and also the architects Cracknell + Lonergan who collaborated with Reko to realise this large-scale work, and also the National Art School, once again joining us to create this dynamic and engaging art commission.

It will intrigue and give pleasure to so many people, and remind us all of what a lively and engaging place Oxford Street is.