On Saturday 3 March, we’re saying UTyeS, with the university’s first float appearing in Mardi Gras 2018.
Artist and alumnus Mark Gerada shares his vision for our float:
Mark Gerada, photo by Richard Birch
Set within a backdrop of the very unique UTS built environment, the artwork I have created for UTS Mardi Gras 2018 is about people.
The artwork is a celebration of what we have achieved so far – diversity, vibrancy and happiness through acceptance. The festive spirit and colours celebrate individuals and an open-mindedness that is marked by an event like Mardi Gras, spreading equality where all people support each other as a community.
I was honoured to be asked to create this artwork for UTS. I commenced my studies in Architecture at the NSW Institute of Technology in 1987. I will never forget that sense of pride when ‘the institute’ I was studying at became an actual university, the University Technology Sydney, a feeling that coincided with my realisation that we should never take education for granted.
Coupled with that feeling, was the observation that, unlike my friends who were studying at the other big universities at the time, I was studying with a wide range of individuals from many different experiences and backgrounds. These different people were as much a part of my education as the academia - I cannot imagine studying without such variation. From its inception, UTS has provided the opportunity for people from different demographics and cultural backgrounds to study, work and live – it's this provision of opportunity that's central to the spirit of the artwork.
My relationship with UTS would continue as a teacher. Having taught at UTS since 1997, I have always fostered acceptance, embracing and encouraging diversity through the wide range of characters and personalities I have taught, or, as I prefer to put it, guided through their education. Central to my approach as an educator and designer is having fun. I believe there is plenty of room for fun in education and in all walks of life – if people are having fun, they are more relaxed, and more open to learning, sharing and supporting. The qualities and attitudes embraced in the artwork can start in the classroom, where the sharing of knowledge develops better understandings of each other.
The environment has become more and more colourful over the years and decades since I first studied at UTS. With creativity, imagination and self-expression, colours and costumes become more fantastical, a dreamlike quality that celebrates individuals.
My artwork imagines these different characters, different personalities, different colours, and a pride in helping and supporting one another. It's ultimately about celebrating the rights that the many brave people who have come before us have fought for.
There are still many areas in society where we are not equal, so it's with these strong foundations that we recognise the brave people who have paved the way so we can have the positivity and hope to spread our colours into all levels of society and politics to achieve the absolute equality we dream of.