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Expert panel canvas the future of public art in the city

Councillor and PARG Chair Carol Duncan with new PARG member Nikolas Orr in front of Fintan Magee's mural in Civic Lane.

City of Newcastle has appointed five external community-minded art, design and architecture experts to help lead the future of public art in the city that reflects Newcastle's history, culture and community.


Councillors voted to expand the expertise of City of Newcastle’s Public Art Reference Group (PARG) by appointing external members who are professionals in their fields, including local Indigenous cultural representatives and a specialist in heritage.

The appointed members include fine arts professional Edwardo Milan, creative producer and curator Charlotte Hilder, historian of art and iconoclasm Nikolas Orr, researcher and creative producer Bridie Moran, and Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee co-representative’s Andrew Smith and Julieanne Rose.

Councillor and PARG Chair Carol Duncan said the newly appointed members bring excellence in areas such as visual arts, architecture, cultural leadership and heritage to help further develop and enhance Newcastle’s public art scene.

“Newcastle is a major arts and cultural destination that is entering a new phase of maturity and sophistication thanks to the ongoing revitalisation of our city,” Cr Duncan said. “By expanding and strengthening the expertise of PARG, City of Newcastle is helping take the city’s public art scene to a new level with broader diversity.

“The PARG panel will continue to come together bi-monthly to consider and consult on all aspects of public art, from advising on the commissioning of new public art proposals associated with large developments in the City to ensuring transparent commissioning processes and supporting major international street art events like Big Picture Festival.”

Since 2018, the PARG has considered a number of public art proposals related to major private developments in the Newcastle CBD including the Lyrique Lane suspended art installation, water fountain and light art installation on Hunter Street, Illuminart in Newcastle West and Indigenous murals and native artworks on Hannell Street in Wickham.

PARG member Councillor John MacKenzie said a key role of the PARG is to consider and consult on public art associated with development applications to ensure relevance of place.

“The expanded PARG will help applicants incorporate artworks reflective of Newcastle’s culture and heritage, whilst facilitating opportunities for local artists to create, and residents and visitors to enjoy,” Cr MacKenzie said. PARG member Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the calibre of public art in Newcastle is impressive. “Newcastle boasts a proud public art scene featuring work by none other than 2022 Archibald Prize winner and 2019 Kilgour Prize winner Blak Douglas. But there is no shortage of artistic talent right here in Newcastle - home to the highest concentration of artists in Australia," Cr Winney-Baartz said. Newly appointed PARG member Charlotte Hilder said the expanded PARG looks forward to taking Newcastle’s thriving arts scene to a new level, and is currently reviewing some exciting proposals. “We are already poring over concepts and liaising with artists and developers to deliver public art projects for Stage Two of the East End development and the landmark Bowline residential development in Wickham," said Ms Hilder.

"The new panel members and I look forward to delivering some exciting new public artworks for the city."

Councillors will receive the 2021/22 PARG Annual Report at tonight's Ordinary Council Meeting.

Public Art Reference Group (PARG) members:

  • Councillor and PARG Chair Carol Duncan

  • Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz

  • Councillor John Mackenzie

  • Creative producer and curator Charlotte Hilder

  • Historian of art and iconoclasm Nikolas Orr

  • Fine arts professional Edwardo Milan

  • Researcher and creative producer Bridie Moran

  • Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee co-representative’s Andrew Smith and Julieanne Rose.


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