Artist: Newell Harry
Curator: Barbara Flynn
Between 389 & 391-393 George St, SYDNEY, 2000
Project: Laneway/City spaces
Tag: Light
My location
Get Directions

Artwork Description

I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.

– Miles Davis

Newell Harry’s Circle/s in the Round’ for (Miles and Miles +1) is an elegant neon wall sculpture in Temperance Lane. Running beneath the coloured concentric circles is text reading, and mirroring, “NEVERODDOREVEN.” Inspired by Miles Davis’ 1967 ‘Circle in the Round’ recording, the work literally lights up the end of the dark alley.

The artist wrote of this work:

As a kid I recall my mother amping up her weekend housework to Jim McLeod’s ‘Jazz Track’, or doing ‘the Bump’ with Aunt Vin to EWF or the Pointer Sisters in the kitchen. Like jazz, our home was entwined order and chaos.

The work takes its title from the breakthrough Miles Davis studio recording “Circle in the Round” (‘67), the first in which Davis shifts from the acoustic structure of a jazz quintet, to that of electronic composition and ‘fusion’.

The track, first released in the 1979 compilation album of the same name, heralds the beginning of Davis’s ‘electronic period’; continuing to his death, ending with the Hip Hop inspired, “Doo-Bop” album (1991). Incidentally, neon, as sculpture, finds its inception around the same time as Davis’s shift – the heat of late sixties high modernism.

Back at Temperance Lane, the out-of-sync flashing circles and the textual word-play links, conceptually, to structures inherent to jazz composition, and spoken-word improvisation. Taoist philosophy fits in there, too, but without conjuring the hippy dippy it’s probably best to call it quits.


Newell Harry is an artist based in Sydney of South African-Mauritian heritage. He works in a wide range of materials, often reflecting on the histories of contact, colonisation and exploitation in the Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. He explores ideas connected with migration, colonial trade and politics, identity and dislocation.

Laneways Temporary Art Program 3 - Are you looking at me?

The Laneways Temporary Art Program ran from 2008 to 2013.

It aimed to activate the laneways, inject new energy into the urban life and stimulate creativity and innovation in the city.

The third Laneways was titled Are you looking at me? It was curated by Barbara Flynn and consisted of nine artworks.

Get arts and culture updates from City of Sydney News.

Sign up