City Art, a program by the City of Sydney, will invest more than $9 million dollars in public artworks. It will restore up to 400 current pieces and develop public art installations such as Richard Goodwin’s Dorsal Wing above Druitt Street’s bus stop and Caroline Rothwell’s sculpture Youngsters on Barrack Street. We speak to Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore about City Art and the opportunities for locals and visitors to engage creatively with the city’s urban landscape.

Broadsheet: Why is it important to have public art in our urban landscape?
Clover Moore: Public art makes the public spaces in our city attractive and intriguing. Whether it’s on our streets, in our parks, or hidden down a laneway, I think good public art responds to its location, but also provides something unexpected and delightful.

BS: What are the challenges involved in getting new artworks up in Sydney?
CM: Careful planning goes into making sure public art can withstand the wear and tear being outside creates. The City has plenty of experience creating great public art, so we aim to work with artists from a very early stage to help avoid as many challenges as possible. We consider the exact location, the materials used, how maintenance is carried out and how people interact with the piece well in advance.

BS: How is sustainability and the environment accounted for in new works – are there specific materials used?
CM: New pieces of public art can address environmental issues in different ways. Michael Thomas Hill’s Forgotten Songs in Angel Place is a beautiful piece of public art that highlights bird species that have been pushed out of the city since the arrival of Europeans. It is a subtle but effective way of encouraging people to think about their surroundings and the impact they have on them.

Tied to Tide at Pyrmont Point Park literally responds to the wind and tide, reminding people that even in the inner city, the natural environment has strong effects.

Works can also respond through their materials. Allan Giddy’s Earth v Sky on the water in Glebe uses LED lighting, powered by a wind turbine, to bath a large fig tree in a beautiful coloured light.

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BS: What is the City of Sydney planning? What's next in the pipeline?
CM: The City is investing $21 million in public art for Sydney. This includes working with artists on our own projects, and supporting other organisations who can contribute something wonderful to our city.

Last year the City signed an agreement with the Biennale of Sydney to commission and purchase one new artwork in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Biennales. This year’s artwork, City of Forking Paths by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, is a fabulous piece of immersive digital art – the first of its kind for Sydney and the largest work ever made by these internationally renowned artists. It shows that public art can go far beyond sculpture and I encourage everyone to see it.

We are supporting Kaldor Public Art Projects’ newest piece – Your Very Good Idea. John Kaldor is responsible for some of our city’s most memorable artworks, but in this piece he has thrown open the opportunity for other artists to come up with something amazing. I can’t wait to see the results.

The City recently asked for expressions of interest for a range of projects in George Street and in Green Square, and I’m looking forward to seeing the creative and surprising responses from artists.

City of Sydney’s City Art Program