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ReVITALise Rainbow Tunnels Program

Completed: 2023

Cultural Capital was engaged by Transport for NSW to transform three of the pedestrian tunnels of Sydney’s Inner West as part of the reVITALise Rainbow Tunnels Project for Sydney WorldPride 2023, supported by TfNSW’s Safer Cities Program. We curated and delivered three temporary creative lighting activations for the project.

The reVITALise program is a series of state-wide collaborative and community-driven demonstration projects to trial creative interventions that support long term best-practice placemaking and attachment to place. The reVITALise program began with the transformation of four walkways in Sydney’s Inner West and at Central Station with rainbow lighting during Sydney WorldPride Festival 2023. The Rainbow Tunnels were live throughout Sydney WorldPride 2023 (17 February – 5 March 2023), celebrating Sydney as one of the world’s most progressive and inclusive cities. The project is also part of TfNSW’s Safer Cities Program which supports trials of place-based approaches to improving women, girls and gender diverse peoples’ safety within public spaces. 

Cultural Capital engaged local LGBTIQA+ artists to design the tunnel’s creative installations, aiming to celebrate the Inner West community and boost public space experience, sense of pride, and attachment to place. Cultural Capital commissioned HOSSEI at Petersham Pedestrian Tunnel, Kieran Butler at Newtown Pedestrian Tunnel, and Andrew Christie and Alexandra Jonscher at Ashfield Pedestrian Tunnel to develop site-responsive installations to celebrate Pride and boost feelings of safety in each tunnel.

Cultural Capital worked closely with the artists and Transport for NSW to deliver the works. Each of the tunnels had specific heritage constraints that dictated the installations. Cultural Capital successfully navigated these parameters to realise ambitious, creative transformations that increased feelings of safety in each tunnel.

The project received widespread support from community and stakeholders and has subsequently been extended until the end of May 2023.

HOSSEI, 'Stars of Splatters', Petersham Pedestrian Tunnel

Splatters and spills normally have undesirable connotations, like acts of misfortune that need to be cleaned up. But to the artist these shapes are like mirrored portals, a window shaped puddle that can lead you somewhere new. The gestured mirrored spills are a visual vocabulary of the free spirit and the beautiful complexity of identities within the LGBTQIA+ community. Sydney WorldPride presents us with an opportunity to look into the mirrored surface. As you walk through the tunnel you are welcomed into the bright lights of the LGBTQIA+ community and you can see yourself amongst the Stars of Splatters.


Kieran Butler, '1'000 Kisses', Newtown Pedestrian Tunnel

1,000 Kisses is a poetic meditation on expressions of queer love and intimacy from Trans-Non-Binary-Ace lived experience. Presented as a site-specific, text-based work illuminated by neon LED lighting, the work explores the radical and rebellious joy, love, rage, sadness, and grief that accompanies public displays of queer intimacy. The feeling of cruising, holding hands, hugging, kissing, sharing space, exchanging breath, sweat and spit. The rush of serotonin. Followed by the come down.


Andrew Christie and Alexandra Jonscher, 'Slipstream', Ashfield Pedestrian Tunnel

Slipstream is a site-responsive artwork that explores the artists shared experiences of bisexuality featuring an Augmented Reality activated hoarding and creative lighting. It presents a whimsical, sugary, fluid landscape composed from images of the existing art, images and graffiti on the Ashfield Pedestrian Tunnel walls. It aims to encourage feelings of play and free expression that welcome you into an alternate world. The landscape is populated by characters that signify different types of queer expression – from hiding and masking, to being out, loud and proud – and were inspired by some of the childrens paintings that are in this tunnel space already. They are playful interpretations of queer bodies that represent the different feelings that arise from coming out.

SlipStream aims to provide an avenue for audiences unfamiliar with queer culture to build awareness about LGBTQIA+ experiences in a celebratory and interactive environment that pays homage to the space behind this temporary artwork.

Photography: Kieran Butler