Luminous Chippendale

Luminous Chippendale


Here’s a note to me by a designer and gardener, Chantelle Matthews, about the road art and gardening she’s doing in Chippendale.

Strengthening the identity and liveability of Chippendale using a lucent groundcover
Luminous Chippendale is a street garden project which aims to develop latent luminosity into a recognizable characteristic of this often shaded inner city neighbourhood of Sydney. The impact of both light level and sense of belonging on wellbeing is well established (Buys 2012, Cooper Marcus and Francis 1998), and it is thus anticipated that enhancing perceived brightness at street level and simultaneously creating a visual cue that distinguishes the personality of Chippendale from surrounding suburbs will increase connections to place for people living and working in this area.

Creative industries, gentrification, popular bars, cafés and pubs, street art, tertiary institutions, and a community based sustainability movement led by local residents coexist in this zone where some of Australia’s earliest industry began. The two to five storey buildings housing much of this activity tend to overshadow the relatively narrow adjacent streets which form the matrix binding these various facets of the suburb’s character. As a result of this shade, algal blooms and moss proliferate across many built surfaces creating areas of lime green radiance. Luminous Chippendale seeks to enhance this quality within the streets and laneways of the suburb, thereby creating a tool with the potential to distinguish Chippendale from neighbouring Ultimo, Redfern, Darlington and Camperdown.

The implementation of Luminous Chippendale commenced strategically alongside an existing artwork located on the road surface of Paints Lane in July 2012. This intensely vibrant painted work features the words ‘REMEMBERand CELEBRATEas well as rainbow– like bands of colour. Created by anonymous artists allegedly in response to the removal of the words ‘Gay and Lesbian’ from the name of the 2012 Mardi Gras (Akersten 2012), the vivid colour and sentiment of the artwork in this laneway identifies the location as a nexus of luminosity in Chippendale.

In order to further intensify this iridescent quality at Paints Lane, the plant Sedum ‘Gold Mound’ was selected for its glowing lime green colour and planted in a 150mm strip atop the kerb alongside Remember Celebrate. During a previous four month trial the plant performed well as a low maintenance street plant. The similarity in appearance and growth habit of this species to grass also references the iconic Australian front lawn, taking the narrowness of the nature strip to a comically extreme urban conclusion.

Luminous Chippendale has the potential of blooming outward beyond Paints Lane to integrate with several existing street gardens and eventually delineate the boundaries of the suburb. In this way a low groundcover could become a signature identifying feature illuminating the suburb from the ground upward; further developing Chippendale as a distinguishable suburban personality and encouraging positive bonds to this unique Sydney locality .

Funds are currently sought to continue this installation along Paints Lane. If you have experience or ideas to share it would be appreciated.

If you have any experience or ideas to share I would appreciate them a lot including alternative ways to seek funding and how successful I may be with Council. Signage protecting the work would be fantastic. Thank you Michael also for confirming with council that they stop spraying in the lane.
Best Regards, Chantelle.

Chantelle being luminous


Ahh. Wonderful.  Thank you, Chantelle,


3 Responses to “Luminous Chippendale”
  1. Chantelle Matthews says:

    Thank you Denys and Russ for your lovely feedback and suggestions. Great to hear your responses to the work.

  2. Denys Finney says:

    Wonderful idea beautifully executed!

  3. Russ Grayson says:

    Hi Canntell…
    The City of Sydney has arts grants and you could try the Matching Grants too.

    Try to link your ideas with the Greening Sydney Plan and Sustainable Sydney 2030.

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  • Michael Mobbs

    Michael is a former Environmental Lawyer who is uniquely placed to consult in four main areas:

    • Sustainability Coach and Speaker,
    • Sustainable Urban Farm Design greening, watering and cooling the cityscape, roads, parks, suburbs,
    • Major Projects Consultant Commercial and Industrial,
    • Residential Sustainability Consultant.
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