The Rocks Pop Up

Four vacant heritage buildings in Sydney's historic Rocks precinct are now home to an eclectic mix of creatives for six months, thanks to an initiative by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, The Rocks Pop Up Project.Setting up The Rocks Pop Up Project

Artists, sculptors, fashion designers, jewellery makers, writers and tailors are turning Sydney's oldest precinct into the city's newest creative hub by taking up temporary residence in four vacant heritage buildings in the area.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority has transformed some of their empty spaces into studios, galleries and pop-up shops while long-term tenants for the properties are sought. 

Creative practioners with once-a-week stalls at The Rocks weekly market were approached to take up pop-up spaces within 47 George St, a vacant sandstone warehouse that dates back to 1843, allowing them to reach their customer base of tourists and local residents every day.

The pop-up project - which was supported by Arts NSW - will see this heritage Westpac Bank building transformed into a thriving hub of bespoke designers and jewellers, including Nikki Stevens and Mae & Pearl, showcasing and selling their wares.NSW Minister for Planning & Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard, with Kelly Robson at GAFFA's Pop Up Rocks gallery

Independent creative group, Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) is participating by projecting sound and screen loops in the space that profile personal stories and expressions, digital stories, clips and animations created by some of Sydney's diverse artists and young people from ICE's programs.

The Red Room Company has reinvented a basement at 77 George Street as an Australian poetry clubhouse for live events, exhibitions, intimate readings, unplugged music, poet and artist residencies and an outlet for emerging writers' zines.

At 77½ George Street, 'Son of a Master Tailor' has set up shop.  Following in the footsteps of his Italian-Australian tailor father, Adamo, Marco Marone will measure, cut, stitch and fit quality handmade menswear.

Creative community group Gaffa has turned number 85 George Street into a gallery with a six month-long programme of exhibitions featuring young Australian artists - selected as much for their arresting work as their ability to shake up preconceptions about what art is.

The Rocks Pop Up Project was launched by the NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, on 18 May 2011.

"This is a fantastic program that will showcase unique, bespoke and locally distinctive work and profile The Rocks as a home of innovation and creativity in Sydney," said Minister Hazzard to launch the project.

Lisa Andersen, The Rocks Pop Up launch, 18 May 2011Lisa Andersen, Manager of the Empty Spaces Project at the University of Technology, Sydney, speaking at the launch, praised the initiative.

"The lack of affordable space is a major issue for our local artists. The emptying out of emerging and experimental artists from the inner-city over recent years has hurt Sydney's claim to be a global creative city. So this access to square metreage in the middle of the city can only be win and win."

Lisa said her research shows that empty space initiatives were least successful when local authorities are indifferent and planners didn't enable local activity.

"Clearly, the opposite is the case here, where the local authority, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, is working with the artists and leading this flagship Australian project with a new champion in our NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, and with the support of his Department and Arts NSW.

"Given this, and the quality of art and design that will be showcased in the next six months, all signs point to The Rocks Pop Up Project being a great success."

Visit: The Rocks Pop Up Project website


Top left: Installing the The Rocks pop up shops at 47 George Street prior to the launch

Middle right: Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Planning & Infrastructure, with Kelly Robson visiting GAFFA's gallery at the launch of The Rocks Pop Up Project, 18 May.

Bottom right: Lisa Andersen, Empty Spaces Project at the University of Technology, Sydney, speaking at The Rocks Pop Up launch on 18 May.


pop up web 2 min from Information & Cultural Exchange on Vimeo.


The Rocks
47 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000