Oxford Street’s rich history in pride of place with new public artwork

City of Sydney

Oxford Street’s LGBTIQA+ communities past and present are the heroes of an impressive new artwork that will be on display throughout Sydney WorldPride 2023.

The City of Sydney commissioned work by queer Sydney artist Amy Blue, which features pop culture art in a rainbow and pink colour scheme, will adorn construction sites instead of regular safety hoardings.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the artwork would beautify Oxford Street while telling the story of its history and sending a strong message that Sydney is open and inclusive.

“WorldPride will be the largest event in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics, with hundreds of thousands of people to converge on our iconic Oxford Street,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City is committed to making sure Oxford Street is as attractive as possible and operating at its maximum potential through this important event.

“In 2019 we secured a significant redevelopment of City-owned Oxford Street properties, which will help ensure the strip’s long-term success. That work is well under way, so to beautify the strip in the short-term we’re turning construction hoardings into a massive canvass with which to tell the incredibly diverse and colourful story of Oxford Street’s rainbow community.

“This fantastic work of art will make Oxford Street look the part for WorldPride 2023 and Mardi Gras’ return to its spiritual home.

“This fabulous salute to the LGBTIQA+ communities will remain in pride of place as the redevelopments are completed and our work to revive this part of Sydney continues.”

Amy Blue said being involved in this project has not only been an honour, but a highlight of her career so far.

“I wanted this collection of illustrations to capture a snippet of some of the people and events that have illuminated Oxford Street throughout its brilliant and colourful history. It’s an illustrative representation capturing the ‘A-Z of Oxford Street’, a sort of ‘GAY-B-C’ if you like,” Amy Blue said.

“As a community, we’ve experienced moments that call for triumph and celebration, but we have also faced some extremely challenging moments of adversity. This collection is a nod to some of the defining moments in that history.

“To be involved in a project like this that documents such an important history of the queer experience is truly an honour and I hope the LGBTIQA+ community can see themselves reflected in my work.”

The hoardings will be erected at the Ashe Morgan/TOGA development sites in stages with the building between Crown and Palmer streets the first to be beautified with the art.

“While work is well underway on this exciting development, we have partnered with the City of Sydney to put Sydney’s best foot forward as we welcome visitors from all over the country, and the globe, to celebrate WorldPride and the Mardi Gras Parade,” AsheMorgan Principal Alton Abrahams said.

“We’re delighted to have Amy Blue as the artist providing a unique and colourful art installation that celebrates the history of Oxford Street and its significance for the LGBTIQA+ community.”

While the bespoke hoardings are a brilliant representation of Oxford Street’s history, the City of Sydney acknowledges there are many more people who have contributed to this community who aren’t captured in the artwork. The City of Sydney recognises their part in shaping Oxford Street over the years.

The City of Sydney is committed to making sure Oxford Street is as attractive as possible during WorldPride, and has allocated more than $1.7 million in funding to support:

  • the activation and beautification of vacant shop fronts through Sydney WorldPride’s Pride Villages program
  • beautification of Oxford Street with living colour floral art displays
  • pride-themed lighting of the Taylor Square fountain
  • dressing vacant shops with vibrant and colourful displays consistent with WorldPride
  • refreshing the rainbow crossing
  • flying pride-themed and Mardi Gras banners across the city
  • putting up signs and wayfinding to support events and
  • increased street cleansing services throughout the 17-day festival.

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