Artificial ‘sunshine’ to beam on inner Sydney in new art installation

Parts of inner-city Sydney will be bathed in artificial sunshine with the City of Sydney set to give the go-ahead to a $1. 7 million public art installation.

Leading German sculptor Tobias Rehberger has taken the humble lamp post and transformed it into a vibrant solar compass linking four locations in the former industrial heartland of Green Square and Zetland to world destinations.

The four sculptures function as seating, with plantings and a light pole incorporating an illuminated fibreglass sphere.

These artificial suns will be programmed to glow during the daylight hours at the four international locations, turning on at sunrise and off at sunset.

In Green Square, the strategically placed orbs will illuminate to show sunrise in Panama in Central America, in the Lakes District in England and Xinjiang, which is on China’s western border.

A fourth will be synchronised to the sun’s path over the glacial Heard Island in sub-Antarctic waters which, despite being managed as part of Australia’s Antarctic Territory, is far enough south to be half a day behind Sydney’s sun.

Rehberger is renowned for creating interactive installations that splice fine art and architecture to create works that are practical yet intentionally puzzling and intriguing.

He was the creator of the colourful sculptural arch for the new metro station of Pont Cardinet, which opened in 2021, only the second artist-designed metro station in Paris.

In 2010, Rehberger razzled dazzled a decommissioned World War I ship parked on the Thames for the Chelsea College of Art and Design, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool.

A development application will go on public exhibition next week for the art project that was first conceived in 2012, and went to an international design competition in 2015.

Following approval, artworks will be installed at the Green Square Library Plaza and at the corner of Defries Avenue and Zetland Avenue. The other two artworks are tied to infrastructure timelines.

The international locations of his illuminated orbs are intended to trigger imaginings of travel, Rehberger said.

The idea of everyone living and coming together under the same sun inspired the title, Here is Here. And Everywhere.

It connects us with different places in the world, by showing us different views of this one big object that is so essential to our lives: the sun, Rehbreger said.

In deciding his international locations, Rehberger took his lead from inner Sydney’s diverse cultural mix. Chinese and British form the suburb’s biggest migrant communities. A single person hailed from Panama.

I also wanted to have a representation of a different landscape, weather, different vegetation, and not the most obvious places, he said.

Irkeshtam Port was selected as it’s the border crossing between Xinjiang and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. Grasmere in the Lakes District in England, home of poet William Wordsworth, is known for its green rolling hills.

Panama is at the crossroads of international shipping routes. It’s a country that only exists because of the idea of connecting things from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Rehberger says.

It’s a tiny country and 99 per cent of people who have heard of it have heard of the Panama Canal.

The installations are part of a broader public art strategy for the area curated by Amanda Sharrad and originally costed at $4 million.

Finding ways to help build cohesive communities while respecting our residents’ unique cultures and experiences is vital, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

Council asked five artists to design for permanent public artworks that engage the people of Green Square, connecting them physically and conceptually to their surroundings and new community.

Rehberger hopes each location will become a well-known meeting point and hang out.

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