Digital art finds permanent home on Sydney’s streets

Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


Sydney’s largest electricity substation has now become the country’s first permanent, public gallery for digital based art, after the official launch of Grid Gallery.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director George Maltabarow said Grid Gallery would showcase the digital works of media-based artists via an energy efficient LED art wall.

“Grid Gallery is about power and light,” Mr Maltabarow said. “It’s located on the external wall of our eight-storey City North Zone Substation – the largest substation our city has ever seen.

“We have turned over this space to our digital artistic community to display their work based on a calendar of themed, rotating exhibits. We believe it’s a world first – to combine critical electrical infrastructure with cutting edge media-based art in a public gallery.”

The physical space for the gallery is combined with an online web portal for artists to submit and display their work. The Grid Gallery LED screen is 15 metres long and 1 metre wide, and the electricity used to light it is matched with 100% GreenPower.

Each month, a new brief with a unique theme will be released for media artists across Australia to respond to. Ten of the best submissions will be chosen for the on-line gallery at, and a final shortlist of four submissions will be chosen to occupy the physical gallery at the City North Zone Substation.

Grid Gallery came about after discussions with City of Sydney Council about the design of City North zone substation.

The location connects two important city precincts, so the City of Sydney asked EnergyAustralia to create an engaging street-front that would add colour and life to the area.

Grid Gallery was designed by Brad Wright (whilst he was working for C4 Communications) with help from Show Technology. The lighting was supplied and installed by Avsound Productions and is now serviced by Australian Venue Services.

“When it was first scoped out, before I joined the project, it specified Barco products which blew out the budget,” explained Brad. “One of the first things I did was research a viable replacement. I went straight to the Show Technology web site and found their LED Panels. I spoke to the guys at Show Technology about costs and I was amazed at how much cheaper they were. They are a lower resolution than the Barco panels but still could do what we wanted them to do.

”A demo was arranged at the Show Technology premises to which I bought the client and everyone was blown away.”

A total of sixty-four LED Panels are used to form the gallery. An ArKaos Media Server manages the video content feeding the LED Panels whilst a Martin LightJockey controls twelve Martin Cyclos that are situated on Sussex St. The Cyclos were specified by Brad for their colour temperature, long life span and ability to change colour if required. However, they currently run white only.