Weather Cranes - Allan Giddy
Sydney, Australia, 2007

Funders / Commissioners: Sydney Olympic Park Authority, public commission.

Cost Details: AUD38,000 capital + approximately AUD1,200 per annum maintenance.

Duration: Permanent

Location Details: Newington Armory heritage site, Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park, Australia.

Date of Delivery: Ongoing

Medium: Installation

Dimensions / Technical Specs: Two units, each 15 m high x 4.5 m x 8 m.

Themes: Atmosphere, Energy

Author: Lucy Ainsworth

Weather Cranes transforms two heritage-listed industrial cranes into humidity and temperature sensitive instruments. Each crane displays a series of lights attached to the pulley wire, which respond to the changing temperature and relative humidity. The lights start with blue at the top followed by green, amber and red at the bottom. When the temperature is cooler and humidity lower the blue and green lights will switch on. If the temperature and humidity rises, the amber and red lights will activate. When it is exceptionally hot and humid the cranes cab will glow a warm orange hue emphasising the extreme weather.



Aesthetic/Innovation (Conceptual and Technical): The main guideline Allan Giddy was required to follow was to create a ‘gateway’ to the armoury site. With this in mind he aspired to retain the original elements of the cranes architecture, whilst transforming them into artwork. Giddy wanted to display real time weather responsive information.


Social Activation/Community Development: The artist wanted to engage commuters by creating a work that changed to provoke conversations around weather and climate. He aimed to develop a public artwork that entices people to revisit.


Giddy wanted to convey messages about weather and climate change and create awareness about the localised environment.



Audience Engagement: The work engages with commuters on the Parramatta ferry service and nearby children’s playground.

Artistic Merit: The work draws attention to the original site, promoting restoration and regeneration.


Climate: It has created awareness of when temperature and humidity levels in an urban setting increases.


Allan Giddy was commissioned to make a public installation for the Newington Armory heritage site – specifically a ‘gateway’ to the site incorporating lights. Giddy selected the existing industrial cranes to create weather sensitive ‘found objects’.

The project was reasonably straightforward and was completed on time and within budget. The main obstacles that arose were the imposed restrictions of working with a heritage-listed structure. Conditions specified that no objects could be directly and/or permanently attached to the structure by way of drilling, welding etc. This was initially difficult because the lights needed to be incredibly secure to withstand the weather and long-term installation. These restrictions were outlined from the outset of the project and were incorporated into the planning and development of the work without dictating or navigating the desired outcome. An alternative method for attaching and securing the lights using screws and clamps was devised.

Considerations were made to whether the work would affect local birds and wildlife; there were specific concerns about parrots chewing the electrical wiring. However there have been no cases of this.


The majority of the materials in this work are the existing cranes themselves; additional materials include lights, temperature and humidity sensors, steel and electronics. All materials were sourced locally, although inevitably some were manufactured outside of Australia. The coloured lights, at 7 W each, use little electrical power, however the tungsten light located in the cab uses slightly more power. The lights operate on switching controllers, custom built for the project. All power is sourced from within the cranes. Modifying the work to run off solar is inexpensive and easily achieved, however requires negotiation and assistance from the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.


Giddy, Allan. Interview by author, August 1, 2012.

Giddy, Allan. “Weather Cranes.” Allan Giddy: Active Public Art, entry posted January 1, 2007. (accessed August 1, 2012).

This database is developed by the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at COFA, UNSW in association with the City of Sydney and Carbon Arts as part of the Australian Research Council ARC linkage project Curating Cities.