8 Chifley Public Art Unveiling

(4.15pm, Saturday 17 May 2014, 8 Chifley Square)

Thank you, Brett [Draffen]. And hello, everyone.

I'd also like to thank Chicka Madden for his Welcome to Country, and Clarence Slockee for the Song of Bennelong.

I welcome Jenny Holzer and her studio team to Sydney and thank the authors for their words.

And of course I acknowledge and thank Mirvac and CEO Susan Lloyd Hurwitz for this wonderful new public space and public artwork, and also all the members of the local advisory panel.

Just a few months ago, I officiated at the opening of this extraordinary, Lippmann/Rogers Stirk Harbour Partnerships-designed building, and I'm delighted to be back today to launch I Stay - a bold addition to Sydney's public art.

The building itself provides a dramatic opportunity for an adventurous artwork - and Mirvac's international competition has produced a work which equals its setting.

I congratulate Susan and the Mirvac team on presenting the first permanent work in this country by Jenny Holzer, whose thoughtful works speak so eloquently of their time and place.

I welcome it as a meditation on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture - its continuing presence in the contemporary presence city, as well as its ancient past.

I Stay reminds us that not only does this building stand on land well-known to Bennelong and his people but that their descendants share their legacy with us.

I Stay invites us to pause and contemplate that legacy, to reflect on the hundreds of words that form this work, and on what they might mean for us today. It brings into sharp focus the themes that permeate the relationships between Australian society and the original people of this land.

It takes us well away from the old colonialist art of statues of royalty and their viceroys into a world where art has deep meaning, and the power to engage us, to power to make us think anew.

It is the sort of public art that the City wants to foster and I believe it will stimulate many conversations - beyond those in the work itself.

I welcome those conversations, as I welcome Jenny's work, and I'm delighted to officially launch the switch-on of I Stay.