Australia’s most iconic cemetery seeks artworks for outdoor sculpture exhibition

Sabine Brix

Artist submissions are now open for HIDDEN, an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition held in the gardens and amongst the graves of Australia’s oldest operating cemetery, Rookwood.
Australia’s most iconic cemetery seeks artworks for outdoor sculpture exhibition

Image: Big Spiders by artist Kate Rae, supplied.

With a total area spanning the size of Sydney’s CBD, Rookwood may seem formidable, but visiting needn’t be a daunting experience thanks to HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures, an exhibition that allows people to engage with art while admiring the cemetery’s beautiful surroundings. 

‘HIDDEN was created as a way to encourage people to visit Rookwood Cemetery and see it as something that does not have to be scary; to demystify the thoughts that people have around cemeteries,’ said Corinn Camps, Rookwood’s Marketing and Events Coordinator. 

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Entering its 11th year, HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures is now seeking submissions from emerging and established artists across a wide range of artistic approaches, materials and forms. Artists are encouraged to traverse a broad range of themes including history, culture, remembrance, love, cycles of life and the passage of time. 

For the first time, two new categories have been implemented which provide opportunities for film artists and students, said HIDDEN’s curator Dr. Kath Fries.

‘The inclusion of HIDDEN Films and HIDDEN Students will open up exciting opportunities for film artists and students to create site-responsive works that engage with Rookwood’s unique surroundings,’ Dr. Fries said. ‘It will be a valuable opportunity to explore a particular way of working with concepts, materials, installation and the site itself.’

This is the first year Dr. Fries will curate the exhibition, but her involvement has been ongoing. She exhibited in HIDDEN in 2011 and 2012 as an artist, and mentored Luke Nguyen, who won the $10,000 sculpture prize in HIDDEN 2017,

Artists selected into HIDDEN Sculptures will receive $500 per artwork and be eligible for the three main awards up for grabs, including the Rookwood Sculpture Award ($10,000), the Elite Funeral Directors Award, and the People’s Choice Award (both valued at $1,000). 


Adam Galea's High Horse.

As well as Dr. Fries, this year’s judging panel will be comprised of Nanette Orly and Koji Ryui. Orley has curated a number of exhibitions across Sydney over the past five years including Transcendence (2018) at Firstdraft and Full Circle (2018) at The Lock-Up, while Ryui is a Sydney artist renowned for both his solo and group exhibitions, with work showing at Artspace and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Previous entrants have created artworks that interpret the exhibition’s themes in many ways, but it’s work that has an immediate impact which Rookwood is seeking, said Camps.

‘We’re after artwork that is big and bold. Last year one of the participants had a near-death experience and his artwork was a stairway to heaven, which symbolised his experience,’ Camps said. ‘Another submission dealt with the loss of a close family member and that work was a piece that captured their last moment together.’

But artworks don’t necessarily have to be based on an individual’s experience.

‘Some of the artists create work that is quite personal, while others will make something that doesn’t relate to them directly, but that they find fits into the cemetery’s surroundings,’ Camps said. 

For more information or to apply, visit www.hiddeninrookwood.com.au. Submissions close Monday 25 March, with the exhibition running from 7 September – 7 October, 2019.


About the author

Sabine Brix is a writer, editor, podcaster and electronic musician with a specific interest in personal storytelling that captures the essence of why people create. She was the former Online Content Producer at Archer Magazine and editor of the LGBTI website: Gay News Network.

She has produced sound art for BBC's Radio4  and composed music for the web series Starting From Now, which screened on SBS.

Follow Sabine on Twitter @sabinebrix