A grand sculpture installed at Wynyard Railway Station is attracting public praise for its unique design and preservation of an important part of Sydney’s urban transport heritage.
The artwork, titled Interloop, repurposed steps from the site’s original escalators that had carried thousands of commuters to and from the station’s main concourse.
Sydney artist Chris Fox was commissioned to create the sculpture which aimed to evoke memories of past travel for passengers.
“It’s a very exciting project to have completed and be a part of; it’s been pretty intensive,” he told ABC Radio Sydney‘s Robbie Buck.
Months in the making
The original hardwood escalators at the York Street entrance dated back to 1931 and were recently removed to make way for an upgraded modern design.
Off site, a purpose-built aluminium base was fabricated which required more than one kilometre of welding.
This accommodated 244 of the old escalator’s treads and four combs which were displayed around the twisting metal body.
The main structure was then transported to the site in 16 separate sections.
Weighing five tonnes and measuring 50 metres in length, the constructed artwork was suspended from steel beams installed above the base of the new escalators.
All up, the project took six months of design and engineering, 12 weeks’ fabrication and a tight 48-hour installation.
“I’m still recovering from that. I haven’t had a lot of sleep over the past few days,” Fox said.
Positive public response
The wooden escalator steps were some of the last to remain in the Southern Hemisphere and their preservation has received positive reactions from people on social media.
“Thank goodness someone had the foresight to save these beautiful icons from another era.” — Sue
“Finally, we in this city add value and art to the forgotten and historical. Bravo!” — Amanda
“That is wonderful. To rubbish those iconic beauties would have been criminal.” — Cathy
News of the sculpture brought back childhood memories for Jim of Wahroonga who recalled the novelty of riding the original escalators during an excursion to the city in the 1930s.
“Coming from a small country town, one of the things we had to do was to see and walk on the moving the stairs,” he said.
The sculpture’s installation was the final stage in the refurbishment of one of the city’s busiest train stations.
“We really wanted to give a nod to the history of the station and to the impressive wooden escalators,” Marg Prendergast, coordinator general of Transport For NSW, said.
She said she wanted to allay any concerns brought up by the public regarding the structure’s safety.
“We made sure that all of the safety in terms of attachment [and] fire retardant measures are undertaken,” she said.
“They are perfectly safe and people can come, look at them and enjoy them.”