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Creative Projects

Surry Hills Festival celebrates the history, stories, people and lifestyle of Surry Hills

Core to the program are bold site specific art and performance projects made by community in months leading up to the event, and showcased on Festival Day and beyond.

Come along to the Surry Hills Markets (first Saturday each month, 10am-2pm) to join the free Art workshops!

The Most Amazing Devonshire Tea Party, Ever! (2017)

The Most Amazing Devonshire Tea Party, Ever! (2017)

A bold and outrageous installation inspired by legendary local pop artist, Martin Sharp, the stories and personalities of Surry Hills. Join in on Festival day at Northcott Community Centre to contribute your own pop art and enjoy fresh hot scones served by notorious characters of Surry Hills.

The Most Amazing Devonshire Tea Party, Ever! is being created at over 50 community workshops leading up to Festival day. Join free workshops every Saturday in Shannon Reserve (10am to 2pm) or at Ward Park for free workshops and a community BBQ on 14 September 2017, 12 noon to 2pm.

Proudly supported by Altrac Light Rail, City of Sydney and Department of Family and Community Services.

The Surry Hills Wall of Fame (2016)

The Surry Hills Wall of Fame is a bold and fun public art project, celebrating the history of Surry Hills. Participants were photographed as Surry Hills’ notorious characters, including gangsters, rat catchers, Wimbo Park circus characters and many more.

A composite installation comprised of many community photos, was unveiled at Surry Hills Festival 2017 on facades, shopfronts and in evening projections.

The Surry Hills Wall of Fame public was produced with support by Altrac Light Rail, a Surry Hills Festival 2016 community sponsor.

The Popping Pom Poms (2016)

An enormous yarn bombing installation created by artists and community for Ward Park and surrounds.

The Surry Sock Puppets (2015)

The Surry Sock Puppets are a totally riotous puppet show about the history, stories, and characters of Surry Hills.

Residents of Northcott Housing Estate were invited to join in writing the script, creating sock puppets, the music and set for The Surry Sock Puppets.

This is the most riotous trip ever through the history of Surry Hills –  with Governor Forveaux and Governor Macquarie (fatty and skinny), the froggies of frog hollow, Kate Leigh and her sly grog companions, the elephant of Wimbo Park Circus, one very famous visit by the queen, a Clover Moore singalong, plus many more delightful characters and stories…

The Surry Sock Puppets debuted at Surry Hills Festival 2015 to packed audiences at the Northcott Community Centre.  Now famous, we cannot wait to see more of the Surry Sock Puppets.

The Surry Sock Puppets was produced by SHNC with funding support of the Department of Housing.

Produced by SHNC. Written and directed by Alli Sebastian Wolf with songwriting and direction support by Nico Pap. Workshop Manager, Set and Costume Designer, Christopher Baldwin.

The Picnic Blanket Story Project (2015)

Designers were invited to create designs inspired by the stories and characters of Surry Hills. Designs were selected by Matt Hyunh, Richard Briggs, Tiana Vasiljev and Meg O’Shae. Designs were reproduced at community screen print workshops to create picnic blankets, banners and decorations which adorned parks and streetscapes across Surry Hills for Surry Festival day until mid October.

Designs were also animated and exhibited as part of Fringe Dwellers, local creatives, Esem Projects – a stunning series of heritage inspired digital and projection art installations  in laneways and shopfronts across Surry Hills.


The Runaway Elephant of Wimbo Park Circus, by Matt Huynh.
SHNC produced the Picnic Blanket Story project with the support of a
City of Sydney Matching Grant. Thank you, City of Sydney!

Fringe Dwellers (2014, 2015 & 2016)


Local creatives Esem Projects love digging up the documentary histories of Sydney suburbs and Surry Hills is one of their favourites.

For Surry Hills Festivals 2014 and 2015, Esem Projects created a series of stunning projection and digital art installations illuminating laneways and shopfronts across Surry HIlls. This was the seeding of the Double Take arts program, launched as part of Surry Hills Festival 2017.

The artworks feature a mix of heritage based footage alongside contemporary art treatments and animations featuring stories and characters of Surry Hills. The classic, controversial ABC documentary of the 1960s called ‘Living on the Fringe’ filmed the people of Surry Hills & Redfern out on the streets, back when the area was a poverty-stricken blight on Sydney’s aspirations as a modern city. These and other scenes of Surry Hills have been featured in a series of intimate projections.

SHNC will partner with Esem Projects, local creatives, artists and businesses to expand this element of the program for Surry Hills Festival 2016.

Mills of Surry Hills (2014)

Mills of Surry Hills by Nigel Sense

The Mills of Surry Hills public art installation involved community and audiences in making giant spinning wheels featuring the faces and personalities of Surry Hills. An art project for all ages, the Mills of Surry Hills brings together community to share many smiles and stories whilst creating a fun artwork.

Inspired by a “Community Fun Fair Spinning Wheel”, these bold the interactive artworks represent the spinning cogs of Surry Hills’ industrial and rag trade heritage; the self-sustaining energy, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of Surry Hills.

Look out for the Mills of Surry Hills at Surry Hills Festival 2016.