Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island

Laure Prouvost: Art at Cockatoo Island (2024)

Step into the mesmerizing world of Art at Cockatoo Island, where creativity takes centre stage against the backdrop of Sydney’s iconic harbour. Immerse yourself in a curated collection of contemporary and historic artworks, transforming this UNESCO World Heritage site into a vibrant gallery space. Discover the intersection of art and industrial heritage on this unique island canvas. Uncover the secrets of Cockatoo Island’s artistic wonders and plan your visit for an enriching experience. For a detailed guide to the captivating art scene on Cockatoo Island, delve into our comprehensive exploration.

Are you passionate about delving into the world of art, deciphering installations, and envisioning the artist’s thoughts behind each piece? Count me among those enthusiasts, still navigating the journey of appreciating art, particularly the pieces open to interpretation. During my stroll on Cockatoo Island, one of Sydney’s islands, I stumbled upon captivating art installations by the UK/Belgium-based artist Laure Prouvost, adding a delightful surprise to my visit.

PIN for later reference – Art at Cockatoo Island

PIN for later reference - Art at Cockatoo Island
PIN for later reference – Art at Cockatoo Island

This article may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For complete information, please see our affiliate disclaimer here.

About Cockatoo Island

Nestled in Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island stands proudly as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history. Serving as a convict penal establishment from 1839 to 1869, it became a place of secondary punishment for re-offending convicts. The doors of the penal establishment closed in 1869.

Known as Wa-rea-mah to Indigenous Australians, Cockatoo Island may have once served as a fishing base. Today, it has transformed into a landmark attraction hosting cultural events and offering valuable insights into heritage interpretation. A perfect day trip within Sydney, the island boasts two cafes where visitors can bask in the sun while relishing stunning views of Sydney Harbour.

With no entrance fee, exploring the island on foot (a 2-kilometer loop taking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours) reveals its captivating stories. The visitor centre, open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM, provides maps for detailed guidance on notable sights and walking paths. Public toilets are available on the island, ensuring a comfortable visit for all. Cockatoo Island stands as a testament to Sydney’s heritage, inviting locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in its historical charm.

Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island
Entrance to Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island earned its name in the 1840s due to the abundant presence of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Unfortunately, the extensive logging activities during that period led to the displacement of these birds, compelling them to seek a new habitat elsewhere. Presently, the island is home to a thriving population of seagulls, and visitors can observe them closely, particularly during the breeding season, where many chicks can be spotted.

How to Get to Cockatoo Island?

The exclusive modes of reaching Cockatoo Island involve either a public ferry or a kayak. Sydney Ferries maintains regular service connecting Circular Quay, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Greenwich Point Wharf, and Cockatoo Island. Operating hourly from 6 AM to 9 PM, these ferries, managed by Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), offer the most reliable transportation. For the latest information, visitors can refer to TfNSW’s official website.

Ferry fares can be settled using either an Opal card or a credit/debit card. Passengers are required to tap on before boarding and tap off after disembarking. The estimated one-way ferry cost is approximately AUD 6, with a travel time of around 20 minutes between Circular Quay and Cockatoo Island.

Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island
Sydney ferry

About the Artist, Laure Prouvost

Renowned French artist Laure Prouvost, currently based in the UK and Belgium, achieved acclaim by winning the 2013 Turner Prize for her installation “Wantee.” Specialising in installations, collage, and film, Prouvost has established herself as a prominent figure in the art world. Her diverse and innovative artistic approach has captivated audiences, earning her international recognition and solidifying her position as a leading contemporary artist.

Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island
Entrance to Dog-Leg Tunnel and a board giving some information on the artist

Art Installations at Cockatoo Island

Housed within the Dog-Leg tunnel, a dim passage stretching approximately 150 to 200 meters, the art installations add a unique dimension to this historical structure. Constructed in 1915 to facilitate worker movement across the island, the tunnel gained wartime significance during World War II, serving as a shelter during air raids. Notably, there is no admission fee to explore these intriguing art pieces.

Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island
The Dog-Leg Tunnel

The Dog-Leg Tunnel, rumoured to be haunted, provided an eerie ambience, making it the artist’s chosen canvas to showcase installations capturing her relationships with her grandparents, adding a hauntingly beautiful layer to this already rich historical site.

The art installations, intentionally open to interpretation, lacked descriptive plaques, allowing visitors to engage freely. Noteworthy details the guide/volunteer shared included the exclusive use of materials sourced from Cockatoo Island. Surprisingly, one installation incorporated a sewing machine supposedly discovered on the island—an intriguing connection. Primarily designed to tribute ancestors, particularly grandparents, the installations conveyed a meaningful narrative. Adding a contemporary touch, a hand sanitiser strategically placed within one artwork served as a poignant reminder of the ongoing impact of COVID-19, blending history with present-day concerns in this artistic exploration of Cockatoo Island.

The artist intimately unveils her connection with her grandparents through voice-overs and art installations. The eerie ambience, perhaps intensified by the dimness of the tunnel, lent a slightly unsettling tone to the voice-overs. Despite the challenge posed by the darkness, visitors are welcome to photograph the installations within the tunnel. Please pardon the lower-quality images below, as they were captured using my iPhone in the low-lit tunnel surroundings.

Is Cockatoo Island Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Without a doubt, Cockatoo Island is exceptionally safe for solo female travelers. Having visited the island three times myself, I have encountered no issues while exploring.

Art Installations of Laure Prouvost at Cockatoo Island

However, it’s wise to exercise caution around the seagulls, as they may become protective and potentially pose a threat if they perceive you as one. Aside from this, the island is generally secure, allowing solo female travellers to enjoy its attractions without major concerns.

Closing Notes

These art installations truly captivate interest. Personally, I couldn’t grasp the full meaning of each piece, and the combination of eerie voice-overs with the art added a slightly spooky element. Even for those not particularly inclined towards art, a visit to Cockatoo Island is highly recommended. The island offers a fantastic day out, providing a relaxing environment to unwind while enjoying the splendid views of Sydney Harbour.

How can you support me?
You know how much I love coffee, so you can buy me a coffee – Buy me Coffee!

Or you can purchase from one of the below travel resources without any extra charge to you:
Travel Resources
Book your flight on or
Reserve your accommodation on Stay22
Reserve your stay at a hostel on HostelWorld
Use RentalCars or DiscoverCars for hiring self-driven cars
Book your tours and travels or purchase tickets on Viator or GetYourGuide
For a universal SIM card, use DrimSim
Buy comprehensive travel insurance on SafetyWing and WorldNomads

If you liked this article and if it was helpful in your planning or traveling, do share, tweet, or pin this post.

Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn

Do you have a question? Do you want any suggestions and tips for travel, hikes, and scuba dives? Use the Subscription box below to sign up and get updates by email.

Learn how to plan more, travel more, & live more

Get valuable travel tips and tricks, travel inspirations and listen to my stories in your inbox.

Laure Prouvost: Art at Cockatoo Island (2024)
    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    PIN for later reference – Art at Cockatoo Island

    PIN for later reference - Art at Cockatoo Island
    PIN for later reference – Art at Cockatoo Island