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Opportunity to transform an outdoor space

Brooke Boland

Willoughby City Council is looking for artists to make an impact in the streets of the north shore municipality.
Opportunity to transform an outdoor space

Willoughby Council wants to transform its laneways, thoroughfares, street corners, parks and other public spaces so it is looking for artists who can bring life to the municipality with temporary installations or performances. 

It is literally taking the art on to the streets of Chatswood, populating areas like the little hub at the end of Spring Street. The goal is to create opportunities for audiences to stumble across new works.

The opportunity comes through the Willoughby Visual Arts Biennial (WVAB), a local festival which is running its second iteration this year after a successful inauguration in 2015.

This year Willoughby Council is calling for expressions of interest from artists and creatives to submit ideas for the Willoughby Visual Arts Biennial (WVAB), responding to the theme Kaleidoscope.

Rather than offering only Council art spaces as previously, the Council has gone bigger by expanding into outdoor spaces around Chatswood.

The Council has chosen the outdoor format with the aim of increasing public awareness and participation in the event. For artists, it has the advantage of an opportunity to reach a broad audience and make a considerable public impact with meaningful, dramatic or quirky public art. 

Expressions of interest close 29 March

Applications are open to artists who work in installation, sculpture, performance and new media such as video, projection and sound. The Council is particularly keen for applications from artists from diverse backgrounds.

Looking into the Kaleidoscope

Artists are asked to respond to the theme Kaleidoscope.  

Kaleidoscope creates an opportunity for artists to present work that encourages audiences to think of the world as in a continual state of flux full of multiple perspectives that are continually shifting to make up a whole. It is a theme relevant to the multicultural character of the Willoughby Council area as well.

Read more here

The Council is encouraging artists to present ideas that reflect the many and constantly changing ways of seeing and being in the world.

Keywords artists may choose to respond to are:

  • Mirrors and reflections
  • Perception
  • Distortion
  • Geometry
  • Colour and pattern
  • A whole made up of many parts
  • Fresh/multiple perspectives
  • Flux and instability
  • Optical illusions
  • Reality/fractured-reality
  • Utopia/Dystopia
  • Order/disorder
  • Real/surreal
  • Ordered chaos
  • Play/children’s toy

In 2015 the WVAB theme was Imagining Place and included five exhibitions and 17 public programs.

The Biennial also included a mentorship opportunity where emerging artist Sarah Fitzgerald was mentored by artist Robyn Backen. 

Robyn Backen’s WVAB 2015 installation If you do not speak, do I speak for you?

‘It was an opportunity for me to be inside the planning and development of a commissioned artwork from the early conceptual stages through to the final realisation of the work. It was amazing to be able to see how our team worked together to achieve what they did. The final installation and exhibition was a beautiful work, simple and elegant and perfectly suited to the place, with many interesting references and layers of meaning,’ said Fitzgerald.

‘I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the whole process and it has certainly inspired me to continue on my own path as working as an artist.’

Instead of a mentorship in 2017 the WVAB has included more opportunities for artists by taking the biennial outdoors.

The Concourse Urban Screen exhibition of video works.  Pictured on screen is Pilar Mata du Pont, The Embrace, single channel video, 2013.

As part of WVAB 2017 exhibitions will also be curated by Council at Incinerator Art Space, Art Space on the Concourse and The Urban Screen. Details on these exhibitions will be released at a later date.

Creative submissions must be received by 29 March, 2017.

For further information on the curatorial direction, locations and to apply visit

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.