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jess cook says... oh alfred!

In celebration of its reopening, Prince Alfred Park is getting a little makeover, initiated by the folks behind Token Imagination. As part of this year’s Art & About Sydney festival, Oh Alfred! is transforming the boring ol’ boundary that surrounds Alfred Park Park into a “fence-ciful” work of art. Each Saturday in September, Sydneysiders can take part in this collaborative project, alongside school children and 10 local artists, to help give that fence the sprucing up it needs. We got founder of Token Imagination and curator of Oh Alfred!, Jess Cook, to show and tell.

Audrey Lee: We understand that during the last month, Oh Alfred! has been calling out for participants to get involved in the final phase of a collaborative project as part of Art & About Sydney 2010. For the sake of our readers who haven’t yet caught wind of the project, can you tell us a little more about Oh Alfred!?

Jess Cook: Oh Alfred! is a massive outdoor art extravaganza. We are using the construction fence around Prince Alfred Park as our ‘canvas’ to transform area and herald the reopening of the park.

Prince Alfred Park has been under construction for quite some time. It’s a park that local workers, resident and school kids enjoy as well as being very much in the eye of many commuters. As a local I would walk past the construction site and think, “Oh Alfred! how can we make you look pretty?”

So the brainstorming began on what, who, who and when?

We really needed a great team to make this all happen! We knew we wanted to work with the local community and have open working bees. We knew wanted local artists to bring their own interpretations of the site.

Art & About seemed like the perfect match and so we began carving a project plan to present an application for this years festival.  It was very exciting to hear that we had been selected and that Oh Alfred! would be this years village project.

AL: The project will transform the current unsightly fence around Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. Besides the obvious aesthetic changes what kind of impacts do you anticipate Oh Alfred! having on the Surry Hills community and, more specifically, the local arts community?

JC: On Saturday, 4 September, we moved down to the actual fence and began weaving pretty much everyday. The best thing about this has been the response from the public. We have had people yelling “YEAH … NICE ONE!” and “Oh its wonderful” etc. We made this artwork for people to enjoy without buying a ticket or being invited. It’s for everyone who drives past, walks their dog, has their lunch break etc. I love art making to be open and collaborative, fun and accessible.

We have a creative crew of around 30 people – its great to be able to offer work to local art workers.

AL: You started work erecting the artwork last weekend. How is it progressing so far?

JC: We have a really big install period on three weeks so we are being careful to slowly roll things out. It also makes it fun for the public as they see each part of the fence slowly morph! Its so much fun painting colour and shapes with fabric. Garth Knight is the first artist to install. His rope weaving is just magic and is inspired by the Yellow Orb Spiders web.

AL: I believe you are looking for some assistance in mounting the work created by artists. Why should people take part in the project and what opportunities are still open to them?

JC: Every Saturday up until the 25 September, we will be down on the fence weaving and attaching the sculptural elements made in the community working bees. Email us at if you would like further information on how to get involved. Also check out our blog for details about the artists, community groups and schools we have worked with to make this all happen.

OR just come down to the fence and get happy making with us!

AL: We see that Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore has thrown her support hat into the ring. Having the backing of the City of Sydney must have made things a little easier but it wouldn’t have all been smooth sailing, can you tell us about some of the challenges you faced setting up this project?

JC: Sydney is my favourite city and it is so fantastic to have a Mayor and City Council who understand the importance of the having a healthy Creative Industry. Sydney is a very creative city full of amazing art workers and Art & About really celebrates this.

We have never worked on a construction site before! WOWSA things keep changing all the time and so we have had to be very flexible with our install. We have been very lucky to have a wonderful team who are able to work with changes and rearranges.

View original post at Kluster Magazine.

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