News / Art

Chinatown has a new artwork that might be familiar to beady-eyed locals

Bowl-shaped neon light installation in Chinatown
Photograph: Supplied

The walkways of Chinatown are a little more vibrant today thanks to the return of two large-scale fibre optic public artworks, 20 years after they were first installed.

‘Heaven’, a metal disc laced with neon strands, and the ‘Dixon Street Light Screens’, a series of suspended light panels, were removed in 2008 and 2013 (respectively), to make way for building construction.  They have now been recommissioned, bathing Haymarket in a neon, technicolour glow.

They’ll be lit up from 6pm to midnight daily, with the strands of ‘Heaven’ morphing between all the colours of the rainbow, while the lamps of ‘Dixon Street Light Screens’ gradually change from orange to red.

It’s taken 2,700 hours and over $500,000  to restore the artworks, which needed new lighting, cabling, wiring and control equipment to get back into working shape.

The original Surry Hills artist Peter McGregor was involved in the restoration process; McGregor says he took inspiration from Chinese architecture, mythology and iconography such as dragons and phoenixes to create the pieces before laying out and colour coding them with guidance from a feng shui expert.

“The artworks were first put up at a time when there was no social media – no selfies and no Instagram. Now it has been reborn in a different age for a whole new digital generation,” he said.

“‘Heaven’ will now have a virtual life, as well as a real life.”

‘Heaven’ and the ‘Dixon Street Light Screens’ are located at the corner of Dixon and Little Hay streets, Haymarket.

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