Ballarat resident Lisa Anderson was the first person to have imagery projected onto the Sydney Opera House.
The groundbreaking opportunity for the artist, who has lived in Ballarat for five years, came in 1998 after she won the New South Wales Women in the Arts Award.
Dr Anderson, who was already known for her projections around the world, had closed off Sydney’s College Street and used St Mary’s Cathedral for a major projection as the Australian Museum’s first artist in residence.
“When the premier of the day in New South Wales, Bob Carr, handed me the award and asked me what I wanted to do next, I looked out the window of the offices and pointed to the Opera House and said I wanted to project on that,” she said.
With the support of the City of Sydney and the Opera House, Dr Anderson said a series of negotiations began and took almost a year.
“Probably at that stage, they were getting three requests a day to project things on the Opera House and they’d always refused,” she said. “It was a very special thing to be able to do.”
Dr Anderson said the Sydney Opera House Trust was involved every step of the way and the work had to meet very strict conditions.
“Anything like the slightest colour change, I had to record it, show what the change was and explain why the change was in there,” she said. “I was dealing with about 400-500 images.”
The projection titled Singing up Stones, which incorporated music, light and movement, lasted an hour.
Dr Anderson described the reaction of the public as an astounding thing to witness – clapping, tears, dancing and cheers.
“During the performance, I was balanced in a scissor lift on one side of the Opera House calling the slides to go through for the projections,” she said.
“It was all done quite live.”
Sydney Opera House was the subject of controversy last week following the decision to promote the Everest horse race on its sails.
“The Prime Minister said the Opera House is the biggest billboard we have, he is dead wrong,” Dr Anderson said.
“It is not a billboard, it is a representation of our culture, our contemporary engagement with the world and our heritage. And I think those things need to be very much protected.”
The Everest barrier draw results are due to be projected on the sails of the Opera House from 8pm on Tuesday, while a protest is planned for the foreshore around the landmark.