Public Art

Parramatta’s heritage assets and public art have a visible presence in Parramatta's CBD.

The development of historical interpretation and contemporary public art has created a distinctive urban environment that signifies and articulates the history of the area while reflecting the culture of the contemporary community. 

Art and the interpretations of artists provide a unique insight into the city. Using a diverse range of materials from stone and steel to sound and light, a number of artists have created exciting works that seek to draw people into a new experience of place and time. In so doing they have enriched a variety of parks, precincts or localities.

You are encouraged to explore the city’s streets, buildings and open spaces which are active with permanent and temporary art installations - Church Street, the river foreshore, laneways and the new Justice Precinct are some examples.

This unique collection brings Parramatta’s stories and histories alive, from the distinctive indigenous eel motifs to artworks that help convey memories of the early years of the colony.

Each artwork is site-specific, inspired by either the physical qualities of the location, its history or its cultural significance.

Download a PDF walking guide.

Significant commissions have included:

‘Flock’ by Phil Lethlean (2007)

Location: Church Street (between Macquarie & George Streets - above pedestrian threshold)

As a site-specific sculptural commission utilizing light as art, ‘Flock’ is inspired by the eel traps that the Indigenous people of the area used to capture eels. To this day, the eels continue to complete their astonishing migrations, from the rivers and creeks around Parramatta (‘the place where the eels lie down’), all the way to the Coral Sea to breed.

The layers of cones suspended within the sculpture evoke an "archaeological dig" through the layered waves of immigration to Parramatta since white settlement. The web above makes reference to the network of friends, family and interlocking relationships that exist between people and their ancestral homes. At night, the lasers slice and dice the mesh, just as ideas and conversations have sparked and crackled for eons in Parramatta by campfire and café.


‘Pharmacopeia of the Burramatta’ by Gary Carlsey (2007)

Location: Sydney Trial Courts Building, George Street (located in main foyer)

One of the largest landscape artworks in NSW has been installed at the recently completed $330 million Parramatta Justice Precinct. The 22.4-metre wide and 6.3-metre high artwork, entitled occupies an entire wall of the lobby of the new Attorney Generals Department building.

It took six months to construct the landscape, which consists of 95 intricately detailed panels and is made solely from high quality computer scans of wood vinyl. The work is described as a Draguerreotype. Daguerreotypes were a seminal, large-scale photographic technique that utilized iodized copperplates and a camera obscura to produce photographic monotypes. They were a radically new medium when they were introduced in the first half of the 19th Century.

"Draguerreotypes" is a term Carsley uses to describe a series of digital images that are also outputted as photographic monoprints. The image derives from the nearby Parramatta park.


‘Airmaster’ by Sue Callahan (2007)

Location: Church Street (located in Laneway between 315 -317 Church Street)

This work, consisting of a ventilation shaft at one end of the lane and an air conditioning fan at the other, was inspired by my dawning awareness of the “forest” of like objects attached to the roofs and walls of the row of restaurants backing onto the car park. The appeal of these objects is that they are everywhere, but as “building detritus” they tend to be screened out from consciousness.

The title, ‘Airmaster’, serves to underscore the industrial quality of the objects and their ever present functional nature. Seamed into the existing architecture, they are intended to quietly disrupt; to be there but not there. The frosted acrylic changes according to ambient light. On a dull day they settle back into the building, hardly there; but with the sun shining through they glow like ice. At dusk, they light up and become beacons, serving as markers at either end of the lane.

The two objects complement and set up a dialogue with each other, in the vein of masculine and feminine elements. In effect, they contain the space of the lane, separating it off from the main thoroughfares and defining it as a zone of transition - an in between space through which one can lose oneself momentarily.


‘Wake’ by Greg Stonehouse and Susan Milne (2003)

Location: Elizabeth Street Footbridge - Parramatta River Foreshore

The new Elizabeth Street Footbridge over the Parramatta River is a bold and stunning combination of public art integrated with infrastructure. The bridge was designed in consultation with Sydney artists, Greg Stonehouse and Susan Milne.

The design of the bridge has been inspired by both the flight of birds and the gliding movement of oars. Shaped in a gentle curve, the bridge is designed to create a different impression for every person that uses it, including movement. Its suspended oar like structures is lit up from above and below casting interesting reflections onto the water below.

Visitor InformationVisitor Information

City wide
Phone: Visitor Information Centre 1300 889 714

Free Entry: Yes