The Great Gatsby in Centennial Park Sydney

Seeing a picturesque structure being built in one of the favourite dog walking areas of Centennial Park, Sydney, is a curious phenomena. There’s fencing and blue plastic sheeting around it creating an enclosure.Nestled amongst some huge oaks and other magnificent trees on a steep grassed slope overlooking the Federation Pavilion, the house has been slowly taking shape. You know that it’s not a normal structure being built for the public as it is so unlike anything else in the park.

The structure at the entrance to the park opposite the equestrian centre is quite different; it wraps around a heritage water fountain and with its’ little turret, echoes the kiosk near the tennis courts. This structure is being seen in media images of Leonard de Capricio as Jay Gatsby for the shooting of the new film version of The Great Gatsby by director, Buz Luhrmann. This new version of the story also stars Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and is being co-funded by Warner Bros. and the NSW State Government.

What is curious from a park user’s view point is that these structures are so out of context. The park user sees them as part of their park  experience. You are struck by the anomaly between the permanence of the setting and the transience or ephemeral nature of the both the scenes and the film that it is part of.

Whilst many parks are and were designed deliberately as sequential experiences, with a layout that structures scenes that the user passes through, they are part of a series that are edited together. These buildings are out of sequence and unrelated. This is not to pass judgement on the process – it shows how versatile the park is and is doing exactly what a public park is designed for – to accommodate a range of experiences and activities within its’ physical capacity to do so.

If these scenes were permanent, then the response may well be quite different. An imposition on the park in such a way is not how the process works in the public domain.However, with such a light fabrication, it simply adds to the enjoyment of dog walking in Centennial Park.


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