Transforming campus: Alumni artworks featured in giant new outdoor gallery

1 February 2017

From spacemen to dancing bunnies, fairytale lands and ocean vistas, the work of eight of our most talented visual communication graduates has been featured in a giant new outdoor gallery along Ultimo’s Jones Street, as work commences on the nearby UTS Central Project.

First came the eye-popping street-art style mural designed to mark the end of an era, as UTS graduate Georgia Hill (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2011) and co-collaborator Elliott Routledge, adorned Broadway with a striking temporary mural last August, before demolition of UTS Building 2 commenced.

Now, as the transformation of the site continues in preparation for the construction of UTS Central Project – home of UTS’s vibrant new student and research hub, including a new state-of-the-art UTS Library and advanced cross-disciplinary research facilities – the artworks of eight UTS graduates is being showcased in a new outdoor gallery, featured on the Jones Street construction hoardings.

As part of the gallery project, each artist was asked to create a work on the theme of ‘see so much more’ – with Jones Street now graced with a diverse and intriguing collection of immense nine-metre long artworks representing the artists’ views on the world.

For illustrator James Gulliver Hancock (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2000), who is well-known for his ‘All the Buildings in…’ series of publications – the Sydney version featuring our very own UTS Tower – the invitation to participate in the project was an honour.

“It’s such a compliment to have worked so hard at university, and after, and then to come back and celebrate the place where it all began by showcasing your current work,” he says.

His panoramic work, adapted from a colouring book project called ‘Gulliver’s New Travels’, is a whimsical representation of past, present and future travels encompassing real and fantastical places.

“I love making maps and diagrams that turn information into something you enjoy consuming, and even make the dull seem playful and enjoyable,” he says.

Similarly Freda Chiu’s (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, 2014) work ‘Street Circus’, featuring a menagerie of dancing rabbits, tutu-wearing piglets and other eccentric creatures, was designed to bring a sense of festivity to the Jones Street construction site.

“It’s a celebration of the weird and the wonderful, and the freedom of the creative mind. As university life can be quite chaotic, I wished to bring some fun and liveliness to passing students and pedestrians going about their daily routines,” says Chiu.

Kentaro Yoshida A slightly more macabre whimsy is represented in the work of graphic designer Kentaro Yoshida (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2010), whose commercial work includes collaborations with Converse, and is also working on a range of project from designing playing cards and album covers, as well as preparing for an upcoming Sydney exhibition in May.

“I started drawing random flower and plant patterns for my final major projects at UTS. It’s been almost seven years since then, and now it has become one of my signature styles,” says Yoshida.

Google Creative lab designer Simon Blanckensee’s (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2016) depiction of an enormous outstretched hand represents the sometimes unknown and uncertainty of students who are pondering their future paths.

“This work talks to the experience I, and I’m sure many others had at university. University was always a 24-hour pursuits, and while I was struggling to reach something, I was never really quite sure what that something was,” he says.

For journalist and photographer Abdul Karim Hekmat (Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Honours), 2008), the chance to display his compelling portrait of an elderly Hazara man, taken during a trip to Afghanistan in 2010, has provided not just an opportunity to highlight the plight of the Hazara people, but also holds a personal significance.

“In the centre of Bamiyan, opposite two large Buddha niches dynamited by the Taliban in 2001, I came across this old man climbing down the hill using a stick, while carrying a huge bag on his back. He stumbled along the way as he was jumping the narrow streams and rivers, as there were no bridges.

Click here to view photos of the Jones Street Gallery at UTS

“The Taliban did not only destroy two of the world’s largest Buddha statues; they also massacred and displaced thousands of Hazaras. Little international aid reached Bamiyan, and the region lacks basic infrastructure – running water, electricity, bridges and hospitals. This photo symbolises this lack of development faced by the Hazara, as he carries something on his back, but also the resilience and stoicism of people in Central Afghanistan.”

Karim, who has worked as both a journalist and in the community sector helping refugees and asylum seekers, and has now returned to UTS to complete a PhD, says he is passionate about telling the story of society’s marginalised people.

“I am proud of being able to raise the voices of these people through journalism and photography. I was one of them – not being able to study as a holder of a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) back in 2001. I received a UTS scholarship under the TPV scholarship scheme which helped me to pursue my study and complete my degree.”

Similarly Alex Ryan’s (Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Media Arts and Production), 2007) sweeping aerial landscape photograph, taken at Cape Solander, where Captain James Cook first landed on Australian shores explores the complicated nature of history and environment.

“To this day the area remains largely unchanged. The beauty of this coastline beguiles visitors to look past its complex and tragic history,” he reflects.

Ryan, an award-winning music video and film director, recently won a $50,000 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship, which will see his short film, Red Ink, premiere at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

Johanna Ng“From a very early age I have been passionate about the dramatic arts and photography, and it was an exciting opportunity to contribute to the Jones Street Gallery.”

The project was also an opportunity for Johanna Ng (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2013) to explore dualities of the physical world.

“The artwork is a reference to Chinese landscape paintings, drawing on my experience of an Australian landscape. I’m interested in showing spaces, objects and people that aren’t initially associated with the Australian landscape, but are there nonetheless.  It’s also about the immediate and transient nature of moments – a reflection of the world built around me.”

Richelle DobsonExploration is also at the heart of Richelle Dobson’s artwork (Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, 2013). The theme inspired designer, whose day job sees her working on numerous campaigns for Australian fashion brands including Witchery and Oroton, to explore her passion for illustration, with her work depicting the giant hand of a space explorer reaching across the universe.

“I also work on any illustration projects I can get my hands on, and am currently illustrating a children’s book, which I’m really excited about. For this exhibition, I was thinking about UTS as the lifeblood of the city – a place of thriving ideas and boundless opportunity. My inspiration came from the vastness of space and the untold explorations it inspires.

“I loved being a part of the projects and remaining and active part of the UTS community, and I was thrilled to see to all the works up and on display.”

The outdoor gallery is open to the public during the duration of construction, and can be seen along on Jones Street between the UTS Tower and the Faculty of Engineering and IT – check out the directions here.