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What is Contour 556?


Take a walk through Canberra’s history and landscape and see it in a completely new and inspiring way. 

Contour 556 is a festival of outdoor performance, walking, dance, soundscape, projection, song, poetry, textiles, wallpaper, text, light as well as ‘traditional’ sculpture – all on and surrounding Lake Burley Griffin.

What is Contour 556?

The brainchild of PhD candidate at the University of Canberra, Neil Hobbs, Contour 556 is Canberra’s new public art festival. It aims to explore if art can transform the public realm, by looking at landscape through temporary artwork interventions.

Local, national and international artists will present public works that respond to the layers of Canberra’s history. While viewing the artworks, you can provide real-time feedback via QR codes, which are beautifully presented as swans by artist Erica Seccombe as points of reflection.

Contour 556 runs over four weekends between Friday 21 October and Sunday 13 November 2016 on the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore from the National Library of Australia through to the Kingston Arts Precinct.

And why is it called Contour 556? Interestingly, that is the water level of the charming Lake Burley Griffin.

Where to get started

Start your walking tour of Contour 556 at the National Library of Australia, where Sydney artist Louis Pratt presents Rat Trap and Business as Usual, a coal/resin depiction of the dark side of human nature.

Then head towards Queen Elizabeth Terrace (in front of the National Flags Display) to take in works both on land and in the water. You’ll see sculptures by Suzie Bleach and Andy Townsend, Michael Le Grand and Ian Marr.

Look to the water to see In Plain Sight, where Katy Mutton transforms an active cruise boat on Lake Burley Griffin using bold patterns inspired by ‘dazzle’ camouflage.

Continue to the Gallery foreshore

Once you reach the area near the National Gallery of Australia’s Sculpture Garden, you’ll see Archie Moore’s The Yam Daisy, which represents a point where Western science and Indigenous knowledge came into contact. Plus you can see Gary Carsley’s One Place in Another wallpaper artwork.

A Chorus of Women will combine music and poetry with a performance of Penelope, which moves through the Sculpture Garden towards the mythical figure of Bourdelle’s Penelope, evoking poignant mysteries through acts of listening, waiting and longing.

Under the bridge

Walk under Kings Avenue Bridge towards Kingston and reflect on Ann McMahon’s Ship of Fools sculpture, made using recycled materials.

Further along, you’ll encounter the Song Street Project’s road signage marking works and Growing Ground by Bev Hogg and Marianne Courtenay – presenting seven rows of wooden panels all with native grass attached by wire and staples.

Take a break at one of the many bars and restaurants along Kingston Foreshore

Arrive in Kingston

On arrival in Kingston, see Ros Lemoh’s Carpe Diem sculpture – a macabre and playful observation of the fishing activities at Lake Burley Griffin. There’s also David Jensz’s corrugated iron Space Structure, a digital projection by Danie Mellor and the large-scale Fault Sector by Dan Lorrimer.

There’s also plenty on offer in the Kingston and Manuka precinct if you’re after a coffee, lunch or a place to rest your legs.

Embrace the performances along the way

A surprising mix of performances will enchant and entertain as you wander through the spectacle of Contour 556. Watch out for David Capra’s sausage dog memorabilia performance next to the lake, including the launch of Eau de wet dogge – a celebration of Teena the Dachshund’s bath time. You can also delight in poetry readings or the Hiromi Tango, a walking dance performance.

See the full program of artists and performances on the Contour 556 website and stay up-to-date with the latest Canberra events and activities by subscribing to VisitCanberra’s e-newsletter.



At VisitCanberra, Canberra’s official tourism and destination marketing organisation, we are passionate about promoting the city as a travel destination and bringing visitors to our capital. When you take a trip to Canberra, prepare for one good thing after another. Because whether it’s world-class wining and dining, iconic national treasures or breathtaking natural beauty, everything you’re after is there and just moments away. Find us at or follow us on social media @visitcanberra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and on Pinterest @ CanberraTourism. More about the Author

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