Arrivals & Departures: A major public artwork commissioned by Barangaroo Delivery Authority

A major public art commission for the Welcome Celebration at Barangaroo Reserve, 2015

Project Details

This temporary public artwork was one of three major works commissioned by Gill Minervini and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) as part of Welcome Celebrations, held to mark the opening of the Barangaroo public headland.

The project brought to life the maritime and social history of an area that was once the heart of Sydney’s docklands. We used physical installations (shipping containers) as memory palaces and enlivened stories, oral histories and site-specific historical recordings through a mix of digital projection, installation, sound and participatory storytelling.

The Welcome Celebrations were experienced by over 60,000 people over a three-month period between October and December 2015.


Lead Artists: Dr. Sarah Barns and Michael Killalea

Project Team: Gary Sinclair (Sound design and composition), Leif Wilson (Audio-visual installation).

Arrivals and Departures was part of a three-month Welcome Celebration developed by BDA on behalf of the NSW Government to mark the opening of Barangaroo Reserve. Esem Projects’ temporary art installation was the second installation in the Cutaway, and was designed to bring to life the post-European maritime history of the precinct as a working port.

The installation featured large-scale projections and a series of brightly coloured shipping containers which each acted as mini-galleries, telling a different story about the various chapters of Sydney’s maritime history and aspects of the working wharves, from Depression era lines of hungry workers to the farewelling of soldiers during the Second World War.

We discovered here that interactivity can be done quite effectively with old technology too. Vintage typewriters were a big hit with visitors!

A book chapter by Sarah Barns called 'Arrivals and Departures: Navigating the emotional histories of attachment and displacement at Barangaroo' reflected on the program and was published by Routledge in the collection Creative Placemaking (2019) edited by Cara Courage and Anita McKeown.


Arrivals & Departures (2018) Project Showreel


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