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Major Aboriginal artwork commissioned for Sydney Airport

Visual Arts Writer

A new installation will place Aboriginal cultures at the forefront of national and international visitors to Sydney.
Major Aboriginal artwork commissioned for Sydney Airport

Archie Moore, United Neytions, 2018, composite visualisation of installation for T1 International Terminal, Sydney Airport. Composite image: Sebastian Adams, photograph: Sofia Freeman, courtesy The Commercial, Sydney © Archie Moore.

Sydney Airport and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) have partnered to extend Sydney’s arts culture to the airport in a unique and exciting collaboration that will see Kamilaroi Aboriginal artist, Archie Moore’s installation United Neytions to be presented at the airport in 2018.

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The installation of 28 large flags will be shown in the Marketplace at the airport’s T1 International Terminal, and will hover some 17-metre high above the busy area.

The MCA described in a statement: ‘The distinctive graphic designs of the flags reflect the diversity of Aboriginal cultures in Australia. The gentle movement of the flags will produce a calming effect, creating a welcoming presence at Australia’s gateway airport.

‘Moore’s work was selected based on its striking visual qualities, and for its creative and conceptually strong response to the airport’s brief.’

The version of the piece was originally commissioned for the inaugural exhibition The National, and was shown at Carraigeworks.

Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with artist Archie Moore to support his vision and create a strong sense of place at the Marketplace in T1. We can’t wait to share his work with a local and global audience of 15 million passengers a year, leaving them with a positive impression of Sydney as they depart Australia.’

MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE added: ‘The artwork is a perfect fit for a place which sees so many nations and language groups cross paths, exploring as it does ideas around boundaries, national identities and flags – what they represent, what they mean as a symbol of claiming a land, how they create and divide groups.’

Archie Moore, Artist. MCA & Sydney Airport Commission, artist announcement, 2017. Photograph: Anna Kucera

Moore said his work makes a strong statement. ‘This opportunity has allowed this series of flags that celebrates issues of place and identity to adopt a scale and status that official international flags have; drawing attention to the histories, voices and presence of local Indigenous people on which land the airport – an international zone/'no man's land' – lies, but also the passages of cultures, pasts, territories, ages and cultural knowledges that airports foster,’ he said.

The work was selected by a panel chaired by the project’s art curator Barbara Flynn, together Sydney Airport’s Kerrie Mather, Greater Sydney Commission Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull AO, City of Sydney Design Director Bridget Smyth, and MCA Australia Director Curatorial and Digital Blair French.

Sydney Airport and the MCA signed a landmark partnership in August commissioning an Australian contemporary artist to create a new work for T1. A number of leading artists were selected to submit proposals for the project. The installation will be completed and unveiled in 2018.

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