Garden of Cloud and Stone

Related to City Art
Installed 2016
An abstract bronze sculpture on a paved pedestrian area in front of Market City in Haymarket.
Several large, perforated, white metal discs are suspended between buildings in Haymarket.
A large stone with a winding shape like a river carved in its top, set into a paved pedestrian area in Haymarket. In the background are several benches and stone seats where people rest, near some young trees.

A series of stone, bronze and metal elements arranged along Thomas Street, inspired by Feng Shui principles.

Artist: Lindy Lee
Curator: Aaron Seeto

Artwork description

In 2016 a section of Thomas Street in Chinatown was remodelled based on the theme of a ‘New Century Garden’ developed by curator Aaron Seeto as part of our Chinatown public art strategy. Initiated by the City of Sydney as an artist-led project, the street upgrade incorporates a new pedestrian-friendly public space, with more native Australian trees, lighting, seating and public art.

Following a public symposium on the project’s theme, led by Seeto in his role as director of Gallery 4A, artist Lindy Lee was commissioned to create The Garden of Cloud and Stone. The artwork, based on Feng Shui principles, comprises a series of elements: ‘Scholars Rocks’ resembling naturally occurring rocks traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars, a water feature and seating in natural stone, ‘Moongate’ composed of ‘flung’ bronze components embedded in the paving at the intersection of Hay and Thomas streets, and ‘Cloud Gate’ which is a series of circular shade sculptures hung like floating clouds above Thomas Street.

Suspended from catenary cables stretching between the Market City building and a series of supporting columns on the opposite side of the street, the ‘Cloud Gate’ component consists of paired layers of domed, perforated white metal discs. The discs gently reflect light at night and filter sunlight during the day, casting circular patterns of shade onto the footpath and street below that vary with the time of day and the changing seasons.

In ancient Chinese philosophy water has great symbolic value due to its 3 states – solid, liquid and vapour. Clouds are significant because they embody change, transience and impermanence.

Hill Thalis and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture worked with Lee on the artwork and led the design of the overall street upgrade project. They describe the street remodelling and the installation of the ‘Cloud Gate’ as “an ambitious project to recognise the past and present cultural identity of Haymarket, through architecture, place design and public art, while maintaining the teeming, informal and open street life that makes Chinatown such a lively and cherished urban place”.

“I love the history of this area and the idea [of maintaining] the integrity of the street life to make Thomas Street a magnet for pedestrians, not just in Sydney but throughout Australia. So, the space we want to create will be one of harmony, activity and excitement.”

– Lindy Lee


Lindy Lee is a Chinese-Australian artist who has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally. She has participated in numerous prestigious group exhibitions including the Australian Perspecta and the Sydney Biennale.

Lee is a founding member of Gallery 4A in Sydney’s Chinatown and a trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Her work is held in many important collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Chinatown public art strategy

A new series of public art projects began in 2010 to revitalise and extend Chinatown’s public spaces.

The program is based on extensive community consultation and development by curatorial advisor Aaron Seeto as part of the Chinatown public domain plan.

The approach recognises the existing artworks commissioned in 1999 and the character of this vibrant urban area.

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