Monday, 27 October 2008

Newtown Pavement project

This a couple of images of the King Street pavement project in Sydney. The project started when I was mosaicing the outside of Alfa house with Kath Ellis, Zio and art gang. I got carried away and the mosaic spread onto the pavement. Which was inspiration to do the whole street. While doing Alfa house, lots of people joined in to help which speeded up the process. I thought if we started doing the whole street it could be done in a few days as more and more people joined in. How I was wrong with council red tape nothing can be done ever in a few days. This project took five years and amounted to a few works in the ground. Risk management was all the fashion with the council, because a few people who trip up on the pavement and sue the council for laughs, this has triggered an amazing amount of paper work. The mosaic was not possible although would have been incredible, the thing that stopped it was trip factor, if the ground is raised a millimetre someone might trip. Considering the planet has rocky surfaces which people use to walk on bear foot this modern notion baffles me.
So the project started with a tender which me and Kath worked on for ages the idea was a wave that went down King street but had things in that changed it along the way. The council then wanted us to collaborate with a jeweller who had done the casino floor, putting jewels in the pavement. She pulled out after a few meetings. Then we had a go at practising with the council at putting images in tarmac road surface with different coloured aigrette. This was fun for the road workers but didn't have the same community idea as mosaicing and using wasted broken ceramics and tiles. Then project was set for a new level terrazzo using other artist as well and incorporating the shop keepers by them working on designs with the artists. Kath and I were given Clam's chicken shop, the Kodak photo lab and a Indian restaurant. I drew some ideas for chickens for the chicken shop, negative for the photo shop and an elephant for the Indian take away. Clam's chicken shop did not want chickens he wanted peace in Newtown and an image of an Om with the sun behind and doves flying away from it. He was very friendly when we has meetings an always offered us a cooked chicken which I had to refuse do to being vegetarian. He was over cooking chickens as he had done for 20 years and he said he wanted to open an organic vege type shop later when the pavement was down. Kath an I spent time in the library researching all the material we needed and redrawing and plan drawing. Then finally after four years it was ready to go in the pavement after all the electrics and pipes had been changed in the street. We handed are drawing in by the dead line. Then an act of god happened and it hailed giant hail stones the size of footballs shattering the councils roof that was made of glass and asbestos. We had no copy's of the drawings because the council were going to copy them so it was back to the drawing board again. Eventually the pavement was laid by professional terrazzo layers. It looked very posh. The Mayor asked us to a thank you breakfast which was a bit early for us artists who work through the night.
Later on apparently some sikhs complained about the OM saying we are not suppose to walk on an Om. What a palaver, the OM has been put on everything and is surely meant to be a sign of peace.
Later I went on to design a 100 metre pavement for Taylor Square but after handing that in the council reorganised and a different mayor was in so the project was stopped. 

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