A streetlight with a pink decorative lampshade is beside a curved brick building. Pink, handwriting-style text on the side of the building reads, "...and raped here. She happened to be lesbian..."
A brick wall with pink, handwriting-style text on it reading, "This is a lane with a name..." The handlebar of a motorbike is in front of the wall, below the text.
View from below of a pink lampshade on a streetlight. The shade is made of concentric rings of metal.

An oversized pink street lamp keeps vigil over Mary’s Place, reclaiming the space for the community while commemorating a violent act.

Artist: Mikala Dwyer

Artwork description

Lamp for Mary is an artwork by Mikala Dwyer located in Mary Place, off Bourke Street, in Surry Hills. It is the result of a community initiative to commemorate a violent act and takes the form of a large glowing pink street lamp, together with accompanying text.

The work operates on several levels, increasing safety as a positive legacy of the assault and creating a poignant tribute to all women who have experienced violence. It also acts as a sign of resilience and hope, lighting the way forward for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

“This is a lane with a name and a lamp in memory of the woman who survived being beaten and raped here. She happened to be lesbian. When the sun sets this lamp keeps vigil along with you who read this in silent meditation.”

– Professor Michael Taussig


In January 1996 a woman named Mary was abused for her sexuality, then beaten, raped and left for dead in what was then Flood Lane, Surry Hills.

She later found out that people in nearby buildings had seen and heard the attack but did not call police.

The community reacted with outrage and came together to reclaim the space.

Mary’s Place was officially renamed and an artwork painted on the road surface by the community was unveiled in February 1997 as a memorial to the violence that took place.

The project was jointly coordinated by the South Sydney City Council and the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project.

It was the first place in Sydney dedicated to the display of a community’s commitment to ending homophobic violence.

The artwork was accidentally removed following repair of the road surface. In response to calls from the community, we commissioned Mikala Dwyer to create a new artwork for the laneway.

Lamp for Mary was unveiled in 2011. It reclaims the laneway and continues the commemoration the community began.


Mikala Dwyer is a very established and well respected artist based in Sydney. She is known for her installations and public artworks that combine a deft and playful use of everyday materials to create powerful environments.

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