We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Onsite, construction of Sydney Modern which resides on the lands of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation (drawing 2)



Richard Lewer

New Zealand, Australia

1970 –

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Sydney Modern drawing 2
    Onsite, construction of Sydney Modern which resides on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation (drawing 2)
    Place where the work was made
    Melbourne Victoria Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    archival ink marker pen on museum rag board
    37.0 x 29.0 cm sheet
    Commissioned with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Richard Lewer

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    Artist information
    Richard Lewer

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Richard Lewer has made many powerful bodies of work on the stories of people, with their full cooperation and consent. Lewer’s capacity for empathetic listening and insightful observation of human character and behaviour drives the subject matter of this suite of works commissioned for Sydney Modern. Spending time on the building site observing and talking to the workers, his collation of the stories behind their lives and the everyday details of their roles in the project has informed his choice of individuals and scenes depicted.

    The first panel in the painting presents a view from the future Sydney Modern site before the building work had begun, and where he attended the breaking ground ceremony. Looking back towards the
    historic Art Gallery building, the peaceful scene shows what came before the construction

    The majority of the remaining panels and related drawings depict specific figures including Glen, a Safety Officer whose role is to overlook the site and ensure the safety of his colleagues motivated in part by his own family story (he has a daughter who requires 24-hour care); a group of young steel formers from Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand, whose close bond is evident both as workmates and friends, who told Lewer about how different jobs on the construction site are usually done by people from the same cultural background; Jo, a traffic control officer whose sympathetic ear is welcomed by both the locals looking for a place to park their car, and young workers onsite who come to her with their relationship troubles; Dave, who has worked for the construction firm for 27 years and is something of a father figure to all; Asano Yagi, one of the architects living in Sydney and homesick for Japan; Smiriti the onsite cleaner who has had to work very hard over COVID to keep the site up to her standards of cleanliness; and Andrej, an ‘everywhere man’ (in Lewer’s words) who spends his days rushing between meetings and has a sweet tooth for chocolate.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • From Here, for Now, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Nov 2022–12 Feb 2023

Other works by Richard Lewer

See all 25 works