Sound and Sculpture to Re-Imagine the Past

As heritage consultants, we are often called upon to re-imagine the past. 

A new art installation at the Observatory Hill Rotunda is one such example, a place currently transformed into a temporary home to music of a different kind.

Anri Sala’s The Last Resort is out of the ordinary, combining sound and sculpture to create a hauntingly evocative and emotive installation at the Observatory Hill Rotunda in Sydney.

Anri Sala—a celebrated French-Albanian artist—has installed custom-built drums into a temporary ceiling of the Rotunda, where a contemporary interpretation of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto plays. The music evolves with the time and place, evoking the journey of the first Europeans to the Australian continent.

The Last Resort is presented by Kaldor Public Art Projects, an organisation that continues to challenge and inspire us with groundbreaking art projects in public spaces.

About Observatory Hill

With commanding views across Sydney and the Harbour, no doubt the Gadigal observed movements on the harbour’s water and signalled across to the headlands, bays and beaches.

Following colonisation, Observatory Hill was home to John Davis’ windmill, a fort, The Observatory and a signal station. An idyllic spot, perched just outside the Observatory precinct walls, 100 years ago it was decided it would be the perfect place for a bandstand and so the Rotunda was built. Sundays in the 1920s and 1930s saw the lawns of the Observatory Hill Park dotted with groups of people gathered to listen to live musical performances and in 1932 the Rotunda provided crowds with a front row seat to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Our Advice

GML Heritage is proud to have provided pro-bono heritage advice to Kaldor Public Arts Projects, supporting the development application. We provided advice to the Kaldor team and a heritage impact assessment to ensure the installation of The Last Resort did not impact on the place’s significant values or its historic fabric.

The realisation of Anri Sala’s artistic vision, respectful to the Rotunda’s past, creatively reinterprets the musical history of the Rotunda with meanings that are poignant and resonant today.