Art illuminates city spaces at night through interactive smart city technology

11 Dec 2021

Iconic artworks from Newcastle Art Gallery's collection will provide interactive night-time attractions to liven up underutilised public spaces across the city.

The works will be displayed on 15 illuminated light boxes, which also include interactive elements and an augmented reality feature to provide information about the art.

The first set of five light boxes are now operational in Kuwami Place on Hunter Street, with additional installations to be delivered at Market Street and in Pacific Park early next year.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said local talent, innovation and creativity is behind City of Newcastle’s Night Spaces Project, which will enhance local public spaces at night for the betterment of the community.

"The purpose-built interactive light boxes are an innovative solution to activating underutilised spaces throughout our city at night,” Cr Clausen said.

“Utilising cutting-edge interactive smart city technology, City of Newcastle partnered with the University of Newcastle and a local industrial design business to create these bespoke light boxes, which offer a new way for the community to interact with Newcastle Art Gallery's nationally significant collection while also helping to illuminate and attract people to these locations at night."

The light boxes have been built locally using durable sustainable products and are solar powered, with an internal battery to illuminate the artworks and drive the sensor-based lighting features. Augmented reality displays designed for each artwork adds a further layer of digital interactivity. The light boxes are designed to be relocatable for use at other sites or major events.

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said the light boxes will share the Gallery’s vast collection with new audiences, with different displays curated for each location.

"The works of art selected for Kuwami Place, for example, explore the genre of portraiture from the Gallery’s collection,” Ms Morton said.

“Iconic images include Portrait of a Strapper by William Dobell, portraits of Margaret Olley in her Church Street terrace and Rupert Bunny’s emotive portrait of muse and wife Jeanne.

“Some works make a comment on social issues to engage those interacting with the light boxes, whilst other works depict a simple interaction between the artist and the subject in the picture.”

The Night Spaces Project has been jointly funded by City of Newcastle and the Department of Communities and Justice, as part of the NSW Government’s Community Safety Fund.