In February 2023, the Dash Wall adjacent to the Footbridge Gallery at the University of Sydney Camperdown campus will be transformed into a light installation animating the number “45” to mark the 45th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival in 2023.
The University will join organisations including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Randwick Council, the Scenic Skyway in Katoomba as Greater Sydney is transformed into a Rainbow City during the 17-day LGBTQIA+ festival.
Designed by award-winning interactive designer and diversity advocate, Dr Xavier Ho, the mural will be unveiled to coincide with the University’s inaugural Hunt-Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies, which is being launched at the Sydney Social Science and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) to coincide with Sydney WorldPride 2023.
The light installation is inspired by the rainbow font "Gilbert," originally designed by Hayato Yamasaki after the late Gilbert Baker (1951-2017), the gay right’s activist and creator of the rainbow flag.
The artwork will open on 17 February and be illuminated every night until 20 March 2023. Best seen at twilight, it is a family-friendly exhibition with music programmed on an outside sound stage from 7-9 pm each night during the Sydney WorldPride festival.
The artwork coincides with the inaugural Hunt Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies (HISS), which is named in memory of lexographer Gary Simes, a Sydney alumnus who died in 2017, leaving a generous bequest, and his collection of sexology books, to the University of Sydney.
Associate Professor Lee Wallace, Director of the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre at the University of Sydney, said: “The Centre is extremely proud to be part of Rainbow City with a mural of lights and to be commemorating 45 years of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which has always countered violence and intolerance with colour, music and imagination.
“The University of Sydney continues that tradition and welcomes all queer visitors and their friends onto our campus at dusk to see Xavier Ho’s brilliant light mural.”
Over the next four months, until the beginning of Sydney WorldPride in February 2023, more installations will be announced as part of the Rainbow City.
There will be a printed map to allow Sydneysiders and visitors alike to travel the city to view the glorious kaleidoscope of rainbows.
Hero image credit: Xavier Ho, Pride At Play - Testing Grounds