Chinatown Public Art Forum

(12.30pm 21 October 2011, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 181 - 187 Hay Street, Haymarket)

Thank you, Aaron Seeto, and hello, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and to pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

I'd also like to welcome our speakers here today:

  • Aaron himself, who is director of Gallery 4A here in Chinatown and is also the City's curator for public art in Chinatown
  • John Choi, of the award-winning architectural team of Choi Ropiha
  • Nicholas Jose, former cultural counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Beijing
  • Felicity Fenner, chief curator of the National Institute for Experimental Arts
  • Xing Ruan, Professor of Architecture from the University of NSW
  • The Sydney artist, Jason Wing, who is creating an art-work for Kimber Lane and
  • Bridget Smythe, design director for the City of Sydney

They will start the ball rolling for the next phase of our improvements to Chinatown, beginning a public discussion of new ideas and new approaches to public art and public space.

This forum was conceived by Aaron and is gladly supported by the City as a way to involve artists, thinkers, architects and the community to help shape our public realm.

This, after all, is the most important part of our city - what determines its identity and character, what can make it an enjoyable, memorable and even inspirational place to be.
Equally, of course, poorly conceived or designed public space can detract from the quality of the city and impair people's enjoyment of it.

This is why we have put our parks and public spaces at the heart of our thinking about Sydney, and why we have enlisted an outstanding group of senior professionals to act as our advisors on art and public space.

Today's line-up of speakers represents some of the best of Sydney creativity and will hopefully inspire us to fresh thinking about the opportunities for a major new artistic space in the heart of Chinatown.

The City's Chinatown Public Domain Plan proposes to transform Thomas Street - from Hay Street to the ABC Centre - into a traffic-free pedestrian space.

This could allow the development of new public art - envisaged by Aaron as a 21st century take on the traditional Chinese sculpture garden.

It could house a number of permanent works as well as some larger, temporary projects and/or exhibitions.

It would also provide a wonderful new open space - a real breathing space - in a very congested area.

I hope this forum will stimulate discussion and ideas that we can incorporate into our work.

Once again, thank you all for coming here today and I wish you a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion.

Thank you.