Artist: Dirt Witches
Date Installed
Installed January 2021
Barlow Street, Sydney
Project: City Art Laneways
Tag: Sustainability

Barlow Street, North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Artwork Description

“The Dirt Witches are a cross-disciplinary collective of environmental and climate activists and this is one of a series of our projects. In this installation we aim to use our skills as artists, curators, writers and academics to shift the aesthetic appreciation and understanding of Banksia Scrub through recontextualising it within the city.”

Vivienne Webb and Prue Gibson

About the artwork

A micro-forest creates the layers of a natural ecosystem in the middle of our urban environment. This artist-led installation incorporates over 30 species belonging to the critically endangered eastern suburbs banksia scrub, as well as beehives containing sugarbag stingless native bees (Tetragonula carbonaria). It serves as a poetic reminder of the 5,300 hectares of scrub that once stretched between Botany Bay and North Head.

This collaborative project has been made possible through an abundance of support and assistance, including generous contributions from Bates Landscape, Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, Event Engineering and Gentle by Nature and many other organisations and individuals.

Maintenance of the garden will be done by Dirt Witch community volunteers and aims to engage the local city community. A diverse program of talks and workshops will run throughout the duration of the installation.
At the entrance is a changing message board. Here the artists and their guests share knowledge and information on the project, environmental statistics, plant varieties, upcoming events on site, and the ongoing maintenance program.

The Barlow Street Forest connects with the City of Sydney’s vision to create green corridors as part of a liveable green network. The project team hopes it will provide a model that will inform, challenge and inspire other communities to come together and create similar ecosystems in urban environments.

If you would like to be involved contact the team at

“As Dirt Witch artist activists we have the opportunity to bring our individual practices and networks together to create the micro forest installation. This aligns with local and international movements to establish fast growing, dense and biodiverse plantings. Complex ecosystems and nature conservation are fundamental to this moment.”

Lara Merrett, Caroline Rothwell, Rena Shein, Floria Tosca

The Dirt Witches acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which the Barlow Street Forest is situated. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.


Lara Merrett’s practice interrogates the relationship between painting and its surrounding architecture with site-specific work that invites us to enter and navigate its folds.

Caroline Rothwell’s practice is multidisciplinary and research driven, visualising the intersections of art and science, nature, history and time.

Rena Shein is a visual artist and art psychotherapist who has sought a way to work therapeutically at the interface of contemporary art practice and art therapy.

Floria Tosca’s practice encompasses painting, drawing and animation. She possesses a sensitivity to our impact upon the environment, as well as nature’s place in our psyche.


Dr Prudence Gibson is a writer and academic in environmental aesthetics, researching the critical relevance of plants for all beings during this epoch of extinction.


Vivienne Webb is a curator with extensive experience in delivering exhibitions, public art and public programs. Her curatorial practice often addresses environmental and social concerns.


Dirt Witch community
Michael Bates, Bates Landscape
Jane Irwin, Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture
Jeremy Sparkes, Event Engineering
Tanya Excell and Nicola Grieve, Gentle by Nature
Andy Candy Landscapes
Gosford Quarries
Sacha Coles, ASPECT Studios
Andreasens Green
Harvest Seeds & Native Plants
Trees Impact
Randwick City Council Community Nursery
Greg Dolgopolov, UNSW
Way Ming International Holdings Pty Ltd
Ray Realtors

City Art Laneways

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the City of Sydney invited thinkers and artists to create temporary public artworks that enliven our civic spaces.

We received a huge 230 responses from more than 200 artists. After much deliberation the evaluation panel recommended the proposals from 4 artist teams.

These artworks represent four very different responses to the artist brief. But together they provide bold, fresh and meaningful ways to reimagine city spaces and encourage Sydneysiders to rethink and revisit their city.

The City Art Laneways temporary public art program runs from January to March 2022.


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