By ALEC SMART
If someone told you that a group of Vandals were given free rein to redecorate parts of Sydney city, you might expect an orgy of graffiti, broken glass, arson and a little unrestrained looting. Yet these Vandals pleasantly surprised everyone – in fact, we chose one of their woven sculptures, by artist GabFZ, for the cover of our print edition of this magazine.
The Vandals in question are the multi-award-winning Vandal collection of talented artists, based at 16-30 Vine St, Redfern. Their projects include animation, augmented & virtual reality, campaign films, graphic design, digital art, visual effects and cultural experiences.
In what could be described as a Mission Statement, Vandal proclaim: “We transform physical places and spaces with digital experiences that change human behaviour… We love the creative use of technology to transform environments... We use the interplay between the physical and digital worlds to create unique, memorable and immersive experiences with real-world results.”
Liverpool Lane, World Square, Sydney
World Square, the southern city retail and residential tower blocks bounded by George, Goulburn, Liverpool and Pitt Streets, commissioned Vandal to create a ‘placemaking activation’ to complement five of their pedestrian zones.
Tasked to enhance the commercial precinct with dynamic visuals and recycled materials, a group of Vandals rose to the occasion, impressing all with their stunning installations and artworks, titled A World of Colour.
World Square was vibrantly decorated as pop-art murals and floor embellishments added splashes of colour to the arcades and stairways, whilst suspended ornaments and floor decals lined the dining district of Liverpool Lane.
The centrepiece was the intricate woven sculpture that we’ve featured by GabFZ (artist Gabrielle Filtz), suspended between two high-rise buildings over a thoroughfare. Called Weaving Thru The World, and resembling an enormous psychedelic quilt, it consisted of recycled materials from discarded fabrics, ribbons and rope from former street banners and flags.
The materials, purchased from Reverse Garbage in Marrickville, once belonged to City of Sydney and would have graced Sydney Festival, Mardi Gras and other public events.
Weaving Thru The World by GabFZ from Vandal Arts
Ms Filtz explained, “I wanted to not only create an oversized public art sculpture, but also ensure the artwork can be created in a sustainable fashion. I’m very proud of the sustainable use of recycled materials.”
World Square was built atop of Sydney’s historic Brickfield Hill, once renowned for brickmaking. Ironically, the term ‘brickfield wind’, to describe a minor dust storm, was coined from the former early 19th century brickworks, attributable to the dry dirt that swirled up from the quarry and was carried across the developing city.
It’s no longer thought of as dusty, not even when the Vandals arrive; thankfully they stir up emotions, not dry clay.
Lo Bueno Y Lo Malo by Skullavera from KRVNM for the Dia de Muertos exhibition
The Redfern Vandals (who’ve never, to my knowledge, sacked Rome - or any other city - like their historic namesakes) worked on some praiseworthy projects in the past year, continuing 35 years of extraordinary achievements.
Among the stand-outs:
* Produced the campaign film In Support of You, by Breast Cancer Network Australia and Berlei Bras, to encourage all Australians to support those affected by Breast Cancer
* Presented a Mexican-themed exhibition featuring 31 artists from KRVNM to celebrate the annual Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), showcasing elaborate illustrations of skulls.
* Supervised a Spotify music advert with Genesis Owusu, Peach and The Inspired Unemployed, which saw Genesis immersed in a bath tub filled with fruit loops breakfast cereal!
Ghanian-Australian singer Genesis Owusu in a bathtub filled with fruit loops
* Restored the iconic 1975 Australian film Sunday Too Far Away, starring Jack Thompson, for the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
* Collaborated on the NFTree Xmas tree, featuring 8 artists whose works were displayed alongside translucent green pyramids in The Galeries fashion, art and dining hub at 500 George St, City.
* Won three Silver awards at the international Animation and Effects Awards Festival from 9 nominations.
* Assisted Animals Australia animal welfare agency with the animated campaign film Join the Evolution, to encourage people to respect farm animals (one of the aforementioned Silver award winners).
* Worked on a Kit Kat chocolate advert for Nestlé, featuring quarrelling wizards and a crystal ball, with actors Miritana Hughes and Australian screen legend Michael Caton.
So, there you are, Vandals can be seen in a positive light!
Join the Evolution, an award-winning animal welfare advert for Animals Australia
World Square sustainable sculpture
Illuminated Xmas NFTree at Galeries
A History of Vandals
The original Vandals from history were perhaps undeserving of their centuries-old reputation as cynics and wreckers of arts and culture.
To sum up, they were a Germanic people who originated in the Vistula River region of what is now Poland. Around 120 BC, many made their way south to settle the Silesia region (in present-day Czech Republic) and, over the next four centuries, emigrated further south to the Mediterranean.
And why not: seaside living, warm weather, and better soil for crops and livestock has a lot going for it.
However, during that time, these Vandals were harried and constantly invaded and suppressed by a succession of brutal kingdoms, including the Franks, Visigoths, Huns and Romans.
Eventually, in the early 5th century, by fair means and foul, they established their own kingdom, which included Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica and a former Roman province in North Africa. Perfect: beautiful islands, plenty of fishing and sailing, and easy to defend!
However, the Romans, their old persecutors, were not impressed, and repeatedly tried to displace the Vandals from a region that they once brutally ruled as their own and to which still laid claim.
No wonder the Vandals eventually retaliated.
In June 455 AD, during an unrestrained fortnight of plundering, Vandals sacked the city of Rome, which subsequently earned them the permanent reputation as ‘barbarians’ and despisers of art and culture.
And yet history fails to mention that the Visigoths also sacked Rome 45 years earlier, and no one today describes a looter or, ahem, a vandal, as a ‘Visigoth’, hey?!
Liverpool Lane, World Square, Sydney