Zen artist Lindy Lee leads Chinatown revamp
12 September 2012
The Sydney College of the Arts senior lecturer and contemporary artist Lindy Lee will lead a team of artists and designers - including a feng shui expert - to create a new public space in the heart of Sydney's Chinatown.
Lee will draw on the principles of Taoist and Buddhist philosophy to create the New Century Garden, an artistic space providing a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese gardens.
Under the City of Sydney's long-term public domain plan for Chinatown, Thomas Street will be closed to traffic between Ultimo Road and Thomas Lane and transformed into a pedestrian-friendly public plaza.
Lee said she was deeply honoured to be selected to lead the artistic development of the New Century Garden.
"Chinatown holds a unique place in Australia's cultural and social history, and through the Chinatown Public Domain Plan, the City of Sydney is acknowledging the importance of Australia's Chinese community to the making of its national culture," she said.
"I envisage a garden which holds ancient Chinese spiritual values, experienced through an Australian landscape. Fire and water are important elements in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism - both denoting flow and change - and these symbols are also powerful symbols in Australia, given that our predominant experiences of nature are of fire and water: bushfire, flood and drought."
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said she was delighted an artist of Lindy's calibre and experience would be involved in the City's New Century Garden.
"In a city like Sydney, where public space is at a premium, it's vital that our plazas and gardens are well-designed, reflecting their social, cultural and historical contexts," Ms Barone said.
"Chinatown is such an important part of Sydney - so making it a more enjoyable place to live, work and visit by putting people first is an absolute priority.
"We're thrilled to have Lindy Lee, one of Australia's foremost contemporary visual artists, onboard to guide the design of this new public space."
The idea of a New Century Garden emerged from the City's extensive community consultation in Chinatown, which identified the need for more open public spaces.
The City's Chinatown Public Art Curator, Aaron Seeto, last year hosted a forum of more than 60 artists, curators, writers and community members to discuss options for the development of the new public space.
Artists were invited to submit proposals responding to the New Century Garden theme. Twenty seven submissions were received from a wide range of emerging and established artists from across Australia. Lindy Lee's proposal was selected from a shortlist of five.
Lee and the design consultancy, Urban Art Projects, will collaborate with the City's design team, as well as a landscape architecture and urban design team and other technical experts, to bring the New Century Garden to life.
About Lindy Lee
Lee's career as a visual artist has spanned more than three decades and seen her exhibit work across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. She has been featured in the Biennale of Sydney, had a solo exhibition at the Sydney Opera House and held a residency at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing.
She is a founding member of Gallery 4A in Chinatown and has held positions with the Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Centre for Photography, Asian Australian Artists Association and Artspace. She currently holds the post of Senior Lecturer at the Sydney College of the Arts, a part of the University of Sydney. Her work is held in nearly all of Australia's major gallery collections.
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