What is HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures?

HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures is an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place amongst the pathways and gardens in one of the oldest sections of Rookwood Cemetery, on Dharug Land. Rookwood Cemetery is the largest and most multicultural cemetery in Australia: rich in heritage, traditions, and layered narratives. More than 6000 people visited HIDDEN 2022 and the exhibition drew significant media coverage.

Are there categories for HIDDEN 2023?

HIDDEN 2023 has three categories:

Who can enter HIDDEN 2023?

HIDDEN Sculptures public call for entries is open to midcareer, established, and emerging artists; and collaborations, and community groups.

HIDDEN Schools public call for entries is open to teachers in primary and secondary schools to propose class and student group works.

HIDDEN Stonemasons public call for entries is open to stonemasons and apprentices.

How many works will be selected for HIDDEN 2023?

Sculptures: 30 to 40 works

Schools: 10 works

Stonemasons: 10 works

What are the themes for HIDDEN 2023?

The themes for HIDDEN 2023 are contemplation, history, culture, remembrance, diversity, love, loss, mourning, spirituality, relationships, memory, community, cycles of life and the passage of time.

We are looking for works that that respond to the context of Rookwood in some way, such as the cemetery’s contemporary relevance, diverse cultural practices, historical significance, celebration of life, personal stories, or evocative sense of place.

What types of works will be selected for HIDDEN 2023 Sculptures and Schools?

We are looking for a wide range of artistic approaches, materials and forms. We’re also in There was the possibility of involving kinetic elements, performance and participatory engagements. We were looking for a span of works ranging from the celebratory, big, bright and colourful – to the contemplative, intimate and thought provoking.

Can I propose a work that I haven’t made yet?

Yes, artists can propose works yet to be made or existing works that relate to the exhibition themes.

Where can I see works from previous exhibitions?

View the 2022 HIDDEN exhibition and previous exhibitions

What is considered suitable for HIDDEN Sculptures and Schools?

Works that:

  • are site-appropriate that engage with the themes of HIDDEN
  • can be installed within a week
  • can be completely removed at the conclusion of the exhibition
  • can withstand the weather, particularly strong winds and heavy rain (or in the case of ephemeral works the artist will need to propose to tend to and repair the work regularly)

What is not considered suitable?

  • HIDDEN is quite different to a gallery exhibition, as many people visiting the cemetery have not come to see the artworks. There are some specific sensitivities that we must be mindful of in relation to the general public visiting Rookwood for funerals, memorial services and to visit the graves of their loved ones. It’s important that the artworks in the HIDDEN exhibitions are respectful to these vulnerable people.
  • Additionally, in the past, some sculptures exhibited in HIDDEN have been sensationalised by the media and this has caused distress for the families who come to Rookwood to grieve and to find peace remembering their departed loved ones.
  • Please keep in mind that many families visit HIDDEN, so it is important the works exhibited are family friendly and appropriate for unsupervised viewing by people of all ages.
  • If you have specific questions about whether your work will be suitable, please email the curator, Kath Fries: curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au

Can I visit Rookwood and look at the area where the Sculpture Walk will be held before submitting my proposal?

Yes, you can visit Rookwood everyday between sunrise and sunset.  The 2023 path will be slightly different from previous years, but still in the same general area. View the 2022 Sculpture Walk map.

Are there photos of potential sites for my work?

Yes, you can view some site photos here for works in the Sculptures and Schools categories, and you’re welcome to draw or render your proposed sculpture onto one of these photos and include it in your entry.

Can I request a site for my work at Rookwood?

  • Yes, if you are proposing a work for the Sculptures or Schools categories, you’ll be asked to include your general site preference on the application form, e.g., on lawn; in garden; next to a row of graves; in a rest house; in a tree; on the training graves; on a cement block; on a palm tree roundabout; on a low stone wall; in the rose garden; etc.
  • Please be aware this is an indicative preference only, sites will be decided in consultation with the curator in the specific exhibition area. The Sculpture Walk path is often changed due to erosion, maintenance, restoration and accessibility of different areas.
  • There are limited undercover sites, mainly in the heritage rest houses, and these are not completely weatherproof and do not have mains power.
  • If you have questions about sites, please email the curator, Kath Fries: curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au

What equipment can Rookwood supply to assist artists with installation?

Rookwood will supply stakes (star-pickets) to secure sculptures into the ground. Rookwood also lends shovels, ladders and other manual equipment for installation. If you need power tools, you would need to bring those with you. If you have questions about equipment or tools, email the curator, Kath Fries: curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au:

Are there safety requirements for installing at Rookwood?

Artists who are selected to exhibit in HIDDEN, are responsible for the installation of their own works. As Rookwood is a working cemetery, artists are basically “contractors” when on site and must agree to abide by WHS procedures. This involves:

  • Rookwood staff will review all works and install plans after selection to identify safety concerns.
  • Artists will receive feedback on this process from the curator before completing a Risk Assessment online form or Safe Work Method Statement for their install (depending on the level of risk identified by Rookwood). Artists will be assisted by Rookwood staff to complete these forms.
  • Artists must complete an online site induction before meeting the curator at Rookwood for their site meeting.
  • Artists, interns, and volunteers: must wear enclosed shoes and a hi-vis vest (vest provided by Rookwood) during install and follow all safety directions from Rookwood staff.

How much assistance can the staff at Rookwood give with install?

  • Rookwood dedicates one staff member to assist during install. Additional staff maybe called in for complicated installs (e.g., if a crane is required) but this must be arranged prior with the curator.
  • Artists are asked to understand that funerals always take priority for Rookwood staff, but we will do our best to assist artists.
  • Artists were encouraged to bring friends, family and/or professional installers to assist with their install processes too.
  • Sometimes HIDDEN has interns and volunteers assisting with install.

Can I propose to run a Community Workshop at Granville Art Centre?

  • Yes, HIDDEN is partnering with Cumberland City Council on HIDDEN community creative workshops, for artists to run public workshops at Granville Arts Centre in the lead up to HIDDEN install.
  • This is specifically for artists in the Sculptures category who have multiple components in their work, and who enjoy sharing their skills and teaching creative techniques.
  • The pieces created during the workshop should be used in the work installed at Rookwood for HIDDEN 2023.
  • When you get to Question 8 on the Sculptures Application, you’ll need to basically outline your workshop: describe what you want to do during the workshop, and what materials and tools you’ll need.
  • Example: Jayanto Tan’s HIDDEN 2022 Ceramic Fortune Cookie Workshop

Why is install 2 weeks before the exhibition opening?

Photos for the catalogue are taken in-situ by Rookwood’s in-house photographer. We pride ourselves on showcasing the finished artworks on-site within the cemetery. We need at least one week to have the catalogues printed and delivered before the official opening.

Can I propose an ephemeral work?

Ephemeral works will be considered if the artist proposed to maintain the work throughout the exhibition. This usually involves tending to the work once a week, repairing and adding to the elements that have disintegrated or disappeared. Although it is expected that most of the works will change over the duration of the exhibition (due to weathering, public interaction, and surrounding plant growth) it is important that the exhibition is just as engaging for visitors on the final day as on the opening day.

My work needs electricity, is there mains power accessible on the Sculpture Walk?

Most areas of the Sculpture Walk DO NOT have mains power. There are only two sites with mains power, so we recommend that artists incorporate solar power into their proposal if electricity is required.

Can I propose to put my work next to a grave?

There will be some artwork sites available next to graves but works cannot be installed on graves. Sometimes we can use empty graves sites surrounded by other graves. In such cases, these plots are still owned by Rookwood – no family graves are ever encroached upon.

Can I dig into the ground to install my work?

Yes, you could dig into the ground to install work. Most installation processes involved digging into the ground to secure the work with star-picket stakes, which Rookwood supplies to artists.

What is the weather usually like at Rookwood when HIDDEN is on?

Spring weather at Rookwood is a mix of warm sunny days, heavy rain and strong winds. You need to consider how your work will withstand the weather: will the materials and structure hold up in hot sunshine, would it disintegrate in heavy rain or might it be blown over in strong winds?

Can I de-install my work on the last day of HIDDEN?

No. Artworks cannot be removed on the last day of the exhibition, due to popular late afternoon public access to the cemetery, and for WHS reasons. There were no staff on site at Rookwood after 4.00pm on Sundays.

What awards are there?

See Awards & Honorariums. There are different awards and honorariums for each category. More Sponsored Awards will be included in HIDDEN 2023, so keep an eye on the Awards page as these will be updated over the coming months.

Can I propose work that reproduces or uses inscriptions from headstones?

Artists wishing to make work about an inscription on a headstone or a person buried at Rookwood (other than their own family member) should contact the curator, Kath Fries curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au to discuss their idea before submitting their proposal. In most cases permission for such use is unlikely and would have to be approved by Rookwood Cemetery Management.

Is there additional security looking after the artworks?

Rookwood Cemetery’s gates are locked from sunset to sunrise. Security patrols the cemetery at night, but are not be specifically stationed at the site of the exhibition.

Can I propose a personal work about someone in my family who has died?

Yes, we frequently have artworks about personal stories of loss.

Where can I find information about the history of Rookwood?

Information about Rookwood could be found:

Can I discuss my proposal idea before submitting my application? 

Yes, applicants are welcome to contact the curator, Kath Fries, via email curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au to discuss their idea before submitting their proposal.

How can I support HIDDEN?

HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures is a free community event that relies largely on the support of our valued partners and sponsors. We are keen to connect with more supporters and sponsors in the form of both monetary and in-kind donations. If you and your organisation are interested in supporting us, contact hidden@rookwoodcemetery.com.au. We have several sponsor packages available and are happy to work with you to tailor one to your needs.