The Urban Canvas

As humans we love being around others – sharing ideas and experiencing the everyday rhythm of the city. Festivals tap into this need and provide the platform for connection between people and place. Sydney’s annual Art & About festival explores ways in which we connect with the city through creativity and story telling. It’s an amazingly successful and popular festival that has been growing steadily since 2002.

While recent research has been conducted on the social and economic benefits of festivals, let’s focus on what makes them great, the art. This year, Sydney has again produced an amazing collection of installations, events and exhibitions. The Art & About theme ‘art in unusual places’,  reflects the growing global trend for guerrilla or tactical urbanism, also picked up by this years Venice Architectural Biennale.

Over the past week I have been lucky to meet with two of this years winning entrants, Andy from ‘The Great Crate’, and Ben from ‘I wish you hadn’t asked’. Both artworks are installations and both are incredibly grandeur in their ambitions.

Activating a completely dead space at Green Square station, south of the Sydney CBD is ‘The Great Crate’. The brain child of Plus One, a collaboration of creative studios and individuals, including design studio Telly Theodore & Associates, architect Andy Macdonald and curator Danella Bennett, and as Andy put it, is “rude in its simplicity”. It can be best described as a giant living cube and is comprised of hundreds of plants that on its conclusion are to be re-distributed throughout the local area. The installation also required a Development Application to be lodged with Council and once built will reach heights only a cherry picker can successfully maintain. In a word it will become the new ‘landmark’ of South Sydney. If only temporary, its presence will help shape perceptions and encourage discussion about how we use our public spaces for months to come. Follow The Great Crate on twitter. Here is an image from the Art & About website and courtesy of Plus One –

Another great project has recently returned from Denmark and is titled ‘I wish you hadn’t asked’ by James Dive, a member of the creative collective Glue Society. I spoke to another of its members, Ben earlier today, the lead carpenter, who explained the concept as being the “house that rains inside”. But don’t worry he assured me “we give you a raincoat on entry”. It’s an amazing feat. An entire house is constructed and deconstructed with the ‘rain’ water system connected throughout the building frame. Below is a photo I took of Ben and his team building their installation, which gives you an indication of size –

This years Art & About festival kicks off on the 1st September. I’ll be there will you?