By Paul Clark
A new art installation in Bicentennial Park in Glebe by Sydney artist Allan Giddy, entitled Earth V Sky, was officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, recently. The work uses nine Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights to project coloured light on to two Moreton Bay Fig trees on the Glebe foreshore for 90 minutes each day at sunset.
The installation is designed so that the lights project colours that contrast with the sunset on to the trees. A wind turbine located nearby provides power for the light display.
Urban Green Energy constructed the turbine, which was installed by energy company Advanced Eco Solutions. Ben Faiz, managing director of Advanced Eco Solutions, said the priority for the turbine installation is to return more energy to the power grid than is required to operate the light display.
“There was the possibility of having a bank of power storage batteries set up, but the decision was taken to pour the power back into the grid, which is effectively the same thing,” he said. Although the turbine would have operated more effectively if it was positioned higher above the ground, a lower height was chosen to protect wildlife. Mr Faiz said a ceiling height was determined so that birds and bats would be out of range of the turbine.
According to Clover Moore, “The wind turbine is in itself a beautiful piece of public art. The whole project fulfills our goal of a city enriched by art that is also environmentally sustainable. It also a beautiful and poetic reminder of the beauty of the natural world, so abundantly present here in Sydney.” The Lord Mayor acknowledged that some residents are concerned about the impact of the turbine on wildlife. “We’ve commissioned some research from the Australian Museum to show that the impact of the lighting will be minimal. To be absolutely sure we have engaged the Museum to monitor the impacts and give us a better idea for future wind turbine development,” she said.
Artist Allan Giddy said that the trees were so impressive that an art installation could not compete with them. “My idea was to light these two trees, and highlight them for a short time each day, so that people would reacquaint themselves, as I had, with the beauty of the trees and get to know them again,” he said.“It’s not Las Vegas, it’s nice and slow and I hope it will add to the enjoyment of the park. I know the people using the park will understand that,” he said. Mr Giddy said that the safety of wildlife remains a consideration. “We are studying the relationship of fauna to the turbine. This is the first study for a turbine like this in Australia,” he said.
Mr Giddy said that researchers monitor the effect of the turbine on fauna. “We’ve got people from the Australian Museum here every day. They probably get bored waiting for something to hit the thing,” he said.
Mr Giddy said the installation was unlikely to be seriously affected by storm damage. “A very large branch would have to fall off to affect the shape. If a huge branch came off, the lights are adjustable, we can move them around, we can tilt them. So, I can make allowances for any changes,” he said.