Circle/s in the Round’ for (Miles and Miles +1)

Related to City Art
Installed 2011
A neon sign of concentric circles, below which is another neon sign reading "NEVERODDOREVEN".
A crowd gathers in an atrium. On the wall above them is a neon sign of concentric circles, below which is another neon sign reading "NEVERODDOREVEN".

A syncopated neon artwork in homage to Miles Davis surprises the viewer who turns the corner in Temperance Lane.

Artist: Newell Harry
Curator: Barbara Flynn

Artwork description

Newell Harry’s Circle/s in the Round’ for (Miles and Miles +1) is an elegant neon wall sculpture in Temperance Lane. Running beneath the coloured pulsating concentric circles is text reading, and mirroring, “NEVERODDOREVEN.” Inspired by Miles Davis’ 1967 ‘Circle in the Round’ recording, the work literally lights up the end of the dark alley.

This artwork was originally installed in 2011 as a temporary artwork for ‘Are You Looking at Me’, curated by Barbara Flynn for the City Art laneways temporary art program. Following a petition of more than 200 signatures collected by Grasshopper Bar, who traded underneath the artwork at the time, it was loaned from the artist and then acquired as a permanent part of the City Art collection in 2021.

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.”

– Miles Davis

“As a kid I recall my mother amping up her weekend housework to Jim McLeod’s ‘Jazz Track’, or doing ‘the Bump’ with Aunt Vin to EWF or the Pointer Sisters in the kitchen. Like jazz, our home was entwined order and chaos.

“The work takes its title from the breakthrough Miles Davis studio recording ‘Circle in the Round’ (1967), the first in which Davis shifts from the acoustic structure of a jazz quintet, to that of electronic composition and ‘fusion’.

“The track, first released in the 1979 compilation album of the same name, heralds the beginning of Davis’s ‘electronic period’; continuing to his death, ending with the hip hop inspired, ‘Doo-Bop’ album (1991). Incidentally, neon, as sculpture, finds its inception around the same time as Davis’s shift – the heat of late ’60s high modernism.

“Back at Temperance Lane, the out-of-sync flashing circles and the textual word-play links, conceptually, to structures inherent to jazz composition, and spoken-word improvisation. Taoist philosophy fits in there, too, but without conjuring the hippy dippy it’s probably best to call it quits.”

– Newell Harry


Newell Harry is an artist based in Sydney of South African-Mauritian heritage. He works in a wide range of materials, often reflecting on the histories of contact, colonisation and exploitation in the Africa and Asia-Pacific region. He explores ideas connected with migration, colonial trade and politics, identity and dislocation.

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