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Urban Art Projects connects shining artist with Sydney's New Star
Leo Villareal's 'Flying Star' within the void on The Star's gaming level. Image © UAP & Roger D’Souza.

SYDNEY.- Leading international art‐based design studio Urban Art Projects (UAP) recently announced the completion of three high profile public art commissions for The Star in Sydney, Australia.

The Star, formerly Star City, has undergone an $860 million transformation into a one‐of‐a‐kind entertainment destination, which officially re‐opened its doors in late September. The redevelopment and expansion includes 20 new bars and restaurants, a new five‐star lifestyle hotel called The Darling, a 16 room spa, plus a retail area housing a collection of luxury fashion brands.

Understanding the need to create a sophisticated and highly engaging public artwork program for The Star, UAP’s Curatorial Team drew on local knowledge and global networks to create an art strategy that considered the unique cultural, social and physical roles of the site while addressing the practical commercial and urban requirements, this led to engaging some of the brightest artistic talent from Australia and across the globe to develop concepts for the redevelopment.

The project consisting of a 40‐metre LED backed water wall by emerging Australian artist Jonathan Jones and UAP lead designer Jamie Perrow; a suspended, faceted sculpture of a gliding swallow by British born collaborative James and Eleanor Avery; and two large scale suspended lighting installations by highly acclaimed New York based artist Leo Villareal are the results of a successful collaboration between UAP, Echo Entertainment, Brookfield Multiplex, Fitzpatrick & Partners, Cox Richards and the contributing local and international artists.

Leo Villareal – Flying Star
Leo Villareal whose immersive digital sculptures echo organic and architectural forms are showcased in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries including the MoMA PS1 in New York and National Gallery of Art in Washington, has created his first major three dimensional piece for the project, a site‐specific response titled Flying Star.

Suspended both within The Star’s main entrance and 16 metres in the air within the entertainment complex’s glass void, Flying Star is a constantly evolving starburst of tubular LED fixtures arrayed in a radial pattern. Villareal has created a number of digital sequences that the artwork’s programming will randomly illuminate, generating constantly evolving patterns capable of incorporating up to 16 million individual colours.

Flying Star’s patterns take inspiration from the research of mathematician John Conway who invented The Game of Life, the best known cellular automata program, and explores the brain’s compulsion to recognize patterns and the hard coded desire to understand and decipher meaning.

The work which has also been adopted as the focal point of the entertainment venue’s branding, brings life, energy and an iconic form to the space and is capable of being seen from as far as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“My work is very fleeting; it’s really about that moment, the instance. I think that in the void space within the architecture of The Star the piece will bring life to the space. There are many different vantage points for the piece; you could be right next to it in the bar, you could be below it going up an escalator, catch a glimpse of a fragment and then be drawn towards it, or see it from the street or Darling Harbour. Its legible on multiple scales as it activates the surrounding environment.” Villareal said.

When asked about the collaborative process working with UAP’s Australian studio Leo commented saying; “In the last few years I have begun working more outside the USA. It’s nice when you are travelling and out of your comfort zone to work with an organisation that knows what’s going on. UAP is very technically able and are undaunted by complicated fabrication and installation issues. It was great to discover UAP as they allow me to be able to focus on the idea.”

James & Eleanor Avery – Lucky Dip
James and Eleanor Avery are British‐born artists based in Brisbane, Australia. Their collaborations which, have appeared across the globe including Italy, the United Kingdom and Australia, exist at the interface of sculpture and installation, drawing on architectural sensibilities and historical references to realise ambitious works that explore the dislocated layers of order and disorder within contemporary culture. Their works conflate concerns within contemporary culture with historical notes, drawing on a sci‐fi aesthetic. The Avery’s commission for The Star is a suspended 3.5m² vibrant red Swallow which greets guests at the entrance to the Star complex’s five star boutique hotel, The Darling Hotel.

Titled Lucky Dip, the gracious bird is formed by over 400 individual facets and is carrying two diamonds in the shape of the cheeky ‘double cherry’ symbol.

“Our understanding is that a major focus of the development is the regeneration of the site, making it once again a vibrant and energized space. The artwork we have proposed respond to this concept of ‘regeneration’ through the sculptural representation of vital life forms and positive symbolism,” Eleanor Avery said.

“The swallow is a symbol of hope, fertility and the renewal of life. Our swallow is carrying in its beak two diamonds, on a cherry‐like stem which symbolises love, excellence, purity, strength, power and brilliance,” James Avery added.

Jonathan Jones & Jamie Perrow Water wall – Untitled (Eora: water seasons)
Created by Indigenous Australian artist Jonathan Jones with Designer Jamie Perrow, The Star will be home to an important example of contemporary Australian new media art – a 40‐metre long LED water wall ‘Untitled (Eora: water seasons)’.

This highly innovative installation celebrates traditional Aboriginal knowledge and heritage by conceptualising the seasonal calendar of the surrounding Sydney Harbour environment, translating each season in to animated patterns and imagery. The water wall is integrated harmoniously into the building’s entry façade and provides an engaging experience for visitors to The Star and pedestrians and motorists in the surrounding public realm.

This artwork will pay homage to the traditional Aboriginal people of Sydney Harbour, the Eora, and their strong and vibrant seafaring culture, while directly acknowledging the traditional custodians of the site, the Wongal people.

The work has been created with the collaboration and contribution of local Aboriginal communities, marine biologists, archaeologists, historians and underwater filmmakers. The result is a considered, site‐specific artwork that recalls the beauty, marvel and power of Sydney Harbour and its traditional owners.

Leo Villareal’s ‘Flying Star’ and Jonathan Jones and Jamie Perrow’s ‘Untitled (Eora: water seasons)’was unveiled at The Star’s opening on the 15th of September whilst James and Eleanor Avery’s ‘Lucky Dip’ will greet guests to The Darling Hotel’s opening in late October.

Urban Art Projects | The Star | Leo Villareal |

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