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Giant Badges art installation by Adam Norton, Barrack Street, Sydney
Photograph: Supplied/City of Sydney'Giant Badges', Adam Norton

Go on the hunt for four new pop-up laneway art installations in the city

Turn into these hidden streets and see Sydney in a whole new light

By Time Out in association with City of Sydney and Destination NSW

If you haven’t been to the city in a while, you might find that it’s not quite how you left it. The City of Sydney have commissioned four temporary public artworks – traversing interactive video, sculpture and even living nature – located in a different laneways across the CBD.

Alternately intriguing, inscrutable and delightful, these interactive installations invite you to rekindle your relationship with the city. See the full list of laneway art installations below along with further information on each piece.

To celebrate the new artworks, which will be on display until July 2021, the City of Sydney is also offering a series of free guided walking tours. Local artists will show you many of the incredible sculptures, installations, light works and murals around town, while spilling the stories behind them. Snap a pic and tag #RediscoverSydney to share with your friends and family. 

Why not make a weekend of it and book a staycation while you’re there? To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve also included some top dining suggestions near each installation.

Secret art in the city

Step away from the clamour of George Street and into a narrow lane where a fortune-telling ‘ghost’ greets you. Katy B Plummer’s interactive video installation is a friendly, fuzzy oracle that draws each visitor a card from their deck, sharing a personal fortune that can be left hanging as a riddle, applied to their experience, or (in very 2021 fashion) scanned as a QR code for a more detailed reading. Here Plummer explores the comfort that the divine can bring, saying “when order crumbles….courting transrational understandings of our experience can help us.” 

Explore nearby: Superlative modern Cantonese food at Mr Wong, a stellar subterranean steakhouse in Bistecca and post-dinner Prohibition cocktails at Palmer & Co.

It’s hard to miss these colourful, oversized badges adhered to lamp posts along Barrack Street, between George and York Streets. Sydney-based artist Adam Norton has drawn on archival materials spanning apocalyptic sci-fi films, pop and counterculture to create an artwork that fuses an instinctive nostalgia with the uncanniness of their placement in the built environment. Surreal and provocative, they slyly suggest that our current reality feels as strange as science fiction.

Explore nearby: Alfresco dining at New York-style speakeasy Employees Only, French comfort food at Bistro Papillon and rare whiskey alongside American diner classics at Stitch Bar.

'Ever Sun' by Rochelle Haley (Wilmot Street)
Photograph: Supplied/City of Sydney

'Ever Sun' by Rochelle Haley (Wilmot Street)

Gentle, joyful and playful, Rochelle Haley’s ‘Ever Sun’ invites you to revisit at different times of the day to capture its full effect. Go to Wilmot Street (the laneway through to Pitt Street opposite Event Cinemas) and walk around the arching beaded veils to see how they play against natural light, gleaming in accordance with the rising and setting of the sun. The artist hopes that it “offers an inspiring space to walk and reflect, feel nurtured by colour and light, and be together in public sensitively”.

Explore nearby: Modern Australian cuisine in swanky art deco surrounds at the Wilmot, boisterous Korean barbecue sessions at Madang and bountiful Greek shareplates at Alpha.

The City of Sydney has closed off a block of Barlow Street (near the Haymarket part of George Street) to traffic, handing it over to environmentalist collaborative Dirt Witches. They’ve planted a lush micro-forest made up entirely of native species, including the critically endangered eastern suburbs banksia scrub. So carefully have they recreated the layers of a natural ecosystem, right in the heart of bustling Haymarket, that there’s even native bees buzzing around. Swing by for a moment of quiet contemplation in a green oasis.

Explore nearby: Traditional Southern Thai at hidden gem Caysorn Thai, fast-paced yum cha at Zilver and fresh sushi at Masuya Suisan.

All activity will follow Covid-safe regulations and guests are reminded to follow the latest NSW Health advice regarding social distancing, hygiene and staying home if unwell. 

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