Operation Art lights up Olympic Park

The organisers behind an exhibition of student artwork have taken an innovative approach to beat the lockdown, writes Billy Kos.

07 October 2021
Image: Artwork created by Malakai Windsor, a Year 7 student at Carenne School displayed on a wall of the Pullman Hotel

Sydney’s lockdown has not stopped NSW public school students from sharing the colourful and caring artworks they designed to help sick children in hospital.

More than 700 artworks created by students from 211 schools across the state were submitted for this year’s Operation Art, which is open to all NSW schools.

Operation Art Project Officer, Heidi Windeisen said organisers had to come up with a new way to exhibit the artworks after the annual exhibition at Sydney’s Armory Gallery had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

“We had to think outside the box this year and come up with a new and innovative way to display the incredible artworks created by NSW school students,” Ms Windeisen said.

“Rather than cancel the exhibition altogether, we worked with the Pullman Hotel at Sydney Olympic Park and came up with the idea to light up the building with the artworks.

“We have seen what has been possible with VIVID each year and how well that is received by the public, and we thought that this would be the perfect solution,” she said.

A joint initiative between the department and Westmead’s Children Hospital, Operation Art encourages students in Kindergarten to Year 10 to do something special for kids in hospital and lift their spirit through their art.

“Artwork in a hospital setting is an important way of helping to reduce stress, make places more welcoming and enhancing spaces where quiet moments can occur,” said Ivy Baddock, art curator at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

“This extension of Operation Art is another way in which art can help us navigate uncertain times and provide cheer and distraction during wait times.

“We are so pleased to be able to bring these artworks virtually to even more people, especially those requiring medical treatment and those working within the health care system,” she said.

Fifty artworks will be chosen to tour around the state, starting at Jacaranda Square in Sydney Olympic Park. The selected artworks will then commence a tour around the state before becoming part of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s permanent art collection.

Parents Allie and Liam Holland, whose child Asher has been a long-term patient at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, are special guests on this year’s judging panel.

“We are so thankful to Operation Art for filling the walls with colour and joy and hope and beauty,” they said.

“Hospital life is hard but there are always pockets of joy to be found in the waiting.”

The Operation Art exhibition is currently on display at the Pullman Hotel and will be available online until 31 December, 2021.

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