by jenellewitty@gmail.com

Do you have a favourite place? I do and I am so glad to be able to share it with you (before it is taken down).

There are places which we assign memories to, where we were inspired, places we had a wonderful time, highlights in the reel of our stories. At least, I feel this way about this particular spot. The Adelaide Festival Centre Plaza, known for its quirky state colour coded cement sculptures by West German sculptor Otto Hajek is a spot dear to my heart. Designed in 1973, some ten years before I was born in the Festival State, the ‘sculpture garden’ known as City Sign has been controversial since the beginning. I love how much this public art has challenged the Adelaide community. The plaza has undergone a lot of upgrades and changes since the opening in 1977. This article featured on Adelaide Now includes some of the images of the modernist landscape from back then and I can not help but LOVE it. So many geometric shapes!!


I worked at the Festival Centre for two years, one of my first bigger design jobs was to design the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. I loved the people (I mean, my boss was the total fox Kate Ceberano and cooler than cool artist David Bromley along with an amazing team of Fest Centre regulars, I miss you guys!), I loved the buildings and I loved the work I was doing. Before this I completed secondments at both the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Windmill Theatre Company. But my history with this space goes back much further.

As a child I remember our rare trips into the city, (we lived far away so only went in on Christmas Pageant days or to see a show) and walking around this area. I was part of the choir at my primary school and got to perform in the school choir performance (which they still do each year) along with other school kids across the city. It was my first experience backstage in the Festival Centre (and onstage!) and I was placed second row from the top on the very high treads. At rehearsals, hot from the lights and my wool uniform, I fainted and fell headfirst down several rows as kids in front of me darted out of the way. I think this was my first public fainting experience and I remember it very clearly. I was taken into the wings to be looked over and later had to sit in the auditorium and watch the rest of the rehearsals. I was allowed to perform on the night though and did not faint! Nailed it!

As a teenager I went along to as many performances by the State Theatre Company as I could get to, often with my drama or english classes. Upon graduating, I subscribed for many years and went to every show in the season. I guess, you could say that my love of theatre and the Festival Centre have always been intertwined.

Elliatt coat
Elliatt coat

Today the art works are faded, often vandalised, chipped and pose a public liability issue as it is recognised that actually, kids should not climb on and jump off of the stacks (particularly the larger ones), so I am surprised really that the end of days for the garden has not come sooner. As the plaza (that sits on top of the crumbling Festival Centre car park- which needs to be redone, STAT!!!) is reconstructed Hajek’s artwork will likely be demolished as it is unable to be relocated. Goodbye beautifully angled slopes, goodbye magical sculpture garden.

In planning my most recent visit back ‘home’ to Adelaide, I knew that I wanted to shoot an editorial here, in the golden hour basking in that beautiful sunlight. I could not have been happier to have been able to complete this with Mario so effortlessly. I had to do no retouching, the light, the location and thankfully even my sometimes unruly hair all worked for us perfectly. I am so glad to know that one day when this place is no more, I will have a piece of it to remind me of the magic that once was.

photographed by: mario recchia

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