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An Insider's Look: Capella Sydney Art Collection

ByThe Artling Team
An Insider's Look: Capella Sydney Art Collection

Capella Sydney, Brasserie. Watiya by Mitjili Napurrula, 2014, acrylic on linen. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

Nestled within the glorious Sandstone district in Sydney, bustling with activity sits the newly-opened Capella Sydney, the latest opening from the Capella Hotel Group. Built in the 1900s and formerly operating as the Department of Education building, it has since been restored, refreshed and redesigned by Pontiac Land Group.

Project Information

  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • Client: Pontiac Land Group, Capella Hotel Group
  • Project Type: Hospitality
  • Project Scope: Guestrooms, Public Areas
  • Services Provided: Art Consultancy
  • Interior Designer: BAR Studio
  • Status: Completed
  • Artling Project Team: Kim Tay, Talenia Phua Gajardo, Ivy Chang, Tina Rim
  • Year Completed: 2022

Capella Sydney, The Living Room. After Haeckel by Sally Blake, 2023.
Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

Within its orange-toned brick walls sits a wide collection of artworks and design items created by Australian artists and designers, meticulously sourced by The Artling – the official art consultant on this project. Working closely with the interior designs of BAR Studio, the selected artworks and design items blend in seamlessly with the fusion of color, spaces, and textures of the hotel. Completed in 2022, guests and visitors can expect an array of artworks, inclusive of specially commissioned pieces namely the ‘GAAGAL’ mural by Otis Hope Carey in the McRae Bar and three-dimensional work, ‘After Haeckel’ by Sally Blake in the Capella Living Room.

Mr Evan Kwee, vice chairman of Capella Hotel Group and head of hospitality and design for Pontiac Land, shared “The Artling team did a fantastic job seamlessly integrating artworks from local artists into the project, complementing and enhancing each space through each of the pieces selected. The art is now one of the highlights in the property.”

Detailed view of hand-made woven copper wire pieces by Sally Blake. Sally Blake is a Canberra-based visual artist working across textiles, drawing and sculpture.

The Artling was tasked to source for artworks and design items to be placed in the public spaces which included the arrival hall, lounge & bar, restaurant, washrooms, pre function room, pool, spa and corridors as well as the guest rooms and suites.

"Throughout the hotel, it’s the artwork that steals the show. From the Living Room lounge to the two ground-floor restaurants, the bar and the 192 guest rooms and suites, every space features standout pieces by Australian artists." - Wallpaper Magazine

Capella Sydney, Brasserie. Liquid Sunshine by Julee Latimer, 2022. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

Detailed view of Julee Latimer's 'Liquid Sunshine', an acrylic paint sculpture.

From the start, it was crucial to consider the building itself and its history, accompanying the search for ways to complement its shape, feel and build to celebrate its past and future. After which, it was down to the strategic piecing together of products and spaces within the newly renovated hotel. The vast number of spaces had a myriad of products to match. The collection came in different forms; paintings, photography, textiles, mural works, ceramics and others which amassed close to 1,400 pieces of art, which likely makes it one of the largest art collections in a luxury hotel in Australia. The sourcing process was guided by the desire to celebrate the rich environment and diversity of Australia’s land, while including unique works that follow the innovative spirit of the building’s history, where new educational practices were launched within the state.

Morphogenesis Series #10, Jon McCormack. Elevation Placement.
Image courtesy of The Artling.

Morphogenesis Series #10 by Jon McCormack. Image of installed artwork. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

Process and Collaborators

Before the commencement of the project, The Artling did a full review of the interior design drawings to finalize all the artwork locations in the project. We created a proposal which included layout designs of the various spaces with artworks and design items sourced, along with renders of the artworks superimposed into the relevant locations. This acts as a visual aid for the client, and is incredibly helpful to envision how the artworks will look in the completed space.

Hairpiece, Natsumi de Dianous. Elevation Placement.
Image courtesy of The Artling.

The Macquarie Suite, featuring an artwork by Natsumi de Dianous.

As with all projects The Artling works on, research is the crucial first step before selecting artists – a process that entailed a vast search for key artists and galleries in studios and art centers across Australia. The search was propelled with the intention to work with a good mix of emerging, established and First Nations artists which in turn demonstrates Capella’s patronage and support of the contemporary arts scene. Many of the pieces are bespoke and site specific works that were created for the Capella Sydney collection.

After Haeckel, Sally Blake. Artwork Render.
Image courtesy of The Artling.

Example of an artwork allocation layout plan for the public areas at Capella Sydney.
Image courtesy of The Artling.

The Collection

The collection invites guests to consider the various details and narratives behind each piece, bringing to mind not only the evolution of the spaces in which they are housed, but also the incredible diversity of Australian art itself.

Capella Sydney, Liberty Suite. Uluru Tree by Nick Psomiadis. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

The artwork collection for each of the guest rooms is focused on featuring a wide variety of artworks by Australian artists, in a range of media. Spanning from archival images to contemporary photography, these artworks reflect the historic nature of the building as well as the new life it has taken on with its new contemporary interiors and purpose. We were very interested in creating a dialogue between the art and the spaces which essentially brings together the old and new. In the Suites, we included contemporary photography pieces by Nadia Culph and Nick Psomiadis, alongside exclusive prints by Belinda Yee, George Hall, and more.

Capella Sydney, Farrer Suite. News Fight by George Hall. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

The Capella Suite, featuring an Oil on Linen piece by Alice Wormald.

For the Corridors, most of the finishes were quite dark with minimal natural light. Thus, we wanted to bring in some color and brightness into the space. This was achieved through special, limited edition prints by First Nations artists, paired with contemporary photography by Chris Dark.

"A commitment to local storytelling is palpable throughout, down to the granular details. Capella Sydney’s dedication to weaving local history and the arts is impressive." - Condé Nast Traveller

The commissioned mural in the McRae Bar by Otis Hope Carey, GAAGAL offers a series of works which ripple, push, pull and detail a spiritual current. ‘GAAGAL’, translates to Ocean which is the totemic spiritual emblem of the Gumbaynggirr people, and is reflected in the topographical nature of the paintings and their visual relationship to oceanic current charts and movements. The layering and line work of Carey’s pieces create a beautiful union of visual immediacy and the tracings of an intrinsic and sensitive bond.

The McRae Bar, Mural by Otis Hope Carey, 2022, hand-painted mural.
Image by Timothy Kaye.

The McRae Bar, Mural by Otis Hope Carey, 2022, hand-painted mural.
Image by Timothy Kaye. Floral Installation by Amy Thai of Don De L'Amour

Artist Otis Hope Carey at work!

Work in Progress - Painted mirror detail.

In the arrival lobby, commissioned textile works by Elise Cakebread catch guests’ eyes as they walk into the space. About the works, Cakebread says “Flotsam and Jetsam are the seafaring terms for debris and ‘cast off’ items that wash up in the ocean with a contemporary meaning that is a catch all term for the detritus of life, the dispossessed both physically and metaphorically. The two large works have each been created strand by strand from production waste, dowry linens, silk tourism scarves, antique kimonos, muslin cloths, sewing off-cuts, paisley shirts, dresses, tulle dance costumes, hand-embroidered table cloths and more”.

Capella Sydney, Arrival Lobby. Flotsam & Jetsam by Elise Cakebread, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Michael Quinlan.

Detailed View, Flotsam &Jetsam by Elise Cakebread, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Michael Quinlan.

Throughout the building, visitors can expect artworks at almost every turn. The hotel pool is no exception. There, keen swimmers will be greeted with Max Berry's mural; ‘Landscape Effect’ engages the ideology of ‘aesthetic contemplation & affective relaxation’ aiming to foster an environment that induces calm and offers a space to think. Berry’s work prompts a sensation of ‘drift’ rather than spectacle, one that is condensed and framed; a world within a world within a world.

Capella Sydney, Pool. Landscape Effect by Max Berry, 2022. Image courtesy of Capella Sydney. Photo by Timothy Kaye.

With the opening of Capella Sydney, we hope that guests will experience the art collection and learn more about Australian contemporary art and beyond. Our intention was to encourage dialogue, spark curiosity, as well as increase awareness and exposure of all the artists featured. We hope you enjoy the collection as we do!

A special thank you to ALL the participating artists, designers and galleries for working with us on this amazing project!

Check out some of our press coverage here:

Wallpaper Magazine
Conde Nast Traveller
Financial Times

Do you need help with artwork for your hospitality projects? We'd love to hear from you! Contact our expert team of consultants here.

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