Brilliant Sydney Opera House Images in my Book


The Sydney Opera House is drowning in visual documentation. There’s the Opera House project, a dense documentary online on its website. There are seeming mountains of coffee table books with moody, arty dramatic photography. And a gazillion tourist photographs. During the research and writing of the book (2011 – 2017) Instagram and Facebook and YouTube became incredibly popular. In following the Sydney Opera House hashtag on Instagram the familiar spiky white roof shell assembly came into view so often it felt as if it were burned onto my retina like one of those desktop images that become permanently burned onto your computer screen. And factor in, too, all of the marketing and tourist souvenir illustrations and photos and it became all too much.

It’s why the first image in the book is Reg Mombassa’s Utzon Forest (sitting on a stack of ersatz concrete slab cover pieces.) My book looks at how artists, particularly illustrators and graphic novel writers and film-makers who are part of the sci-fi and comic book world, are drawing dense worlds that have rich details that help us understand the worlds they’re creating. Through the Graphic Festival I’m coming to understand the layering of readings possible in graphic novels.

And I look at how the Opera House itself has been making its architecture coherent using digital artworks, particularly Sam Doust’s piece in the Samsung Lounge and several pieces during Vivid LIVE, projected onto the roof shells by 59 Productions, and Universal Everything’s digital re-imaging of Archigram’s Walking City in the Western Foyers (where the Le Corbusier tapestry now stands.)

The special edition of my book goes into detail about Reg Mombassa’s art and music, particularly as it draws the Opera House into his evolving mythology. In future versions of the book this will be different. Mostly as the book will be widened up to a more general audience, so more emphasis will be placed on the Opera House’s own digital artworks, and hellishly high printing costs require the images to be distributed differently throughout the book.

So this issue is very special (in a hardback version that will never be available again). It’s on sale now at



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