The Rooster: public art by Valerie Khoo


The Rooster is a five-metre public art installation designed by artist Valerie Khoo and commissioned by the City of Sydney for the Sydney Lunar Festival. Gracing the shores of Sydney Harbour at its iconic location by the Sydney Opera House, it is set against a dramatic background of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The meaning behind the design

Valerie Khoo says:
“This installation symbolises the idea that Sydney is made up of so many different cultures, people, ideas and histories. The egg-shaped ovoids represent all those unique identities. And when you bring them together, you not only showcase them in their own right but you also end up with a celebration of diversity that forms this stunning city. It’s the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

At its core

At the core of the design of The Rooster is the metal frame which gives the piece its underlying strength and a structural integrity that ensures it suits all types of weather.

Valerie says:
“My aim was to juxtapose that strong frame with the softer, more elegant, look of the ovoids. It is a firm nod towards the infrastructure of a city that underpins the communities – and wider society – that operate within it.”

The making of the rooster

Valerie worked closely with the City of Sydney and Pink Cactus to bring this vision to life. From initial sketches to 3D renders, the rooster began to take shape.

Also working with a team of engineers to ensure the safety and stability of The Rooster, first the metal frame was constructed.

Meanwhile, the ovoids were designed so they would be illuminated, bringing a magical quality to the installation as dusk set on the city and day turned to night on Sydney Harbour.

Finally, the draping of the ovoids was meticulously planned to echo the draping of crystals on a chandelier.


Day and Night

The installation is designed to be appreciated as an artwork in the daytime but also provides people with a completely different experience at night.

Valerie says:
“It’s based on the idea that it’s a Lunar Lantern. The idea of a lantern festival during Lunar New Year is an ancient tradition that goes back over 2000 years.”


“My aim was to bring this into a contemporary setting. So while it has its roots in lanterns made from paper, this installation is a modern chandelier-inspired piece made from far more robust materials.”

“It’s a symbol of how we can harmoniously bring ancient rituals into a contemporary setting. It’s also a reflection of the idea that you can meld cultures together to create an even stronger community than ever.”


Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is an Australian artist, printmaker and curator. Her original artwork and prints can be found in private collections and commercial premises all over the world.

Working out of her studio at Avalon Beach in Sydney, Valerie’s work is featured in solo and group exhibitions and she has been a finalist in various art prizes in Australia. Valerie’s work is also licenced on products in the US.

“I hope the meaning behind The Rooster will continue to live in the hearts and minds of Sydney-sider and visitors in the years to come. It’s an honour to create art for a city I love.” – Valerie Khoo


To enquire about public art:
For licensing enquiries, please contact Valerie’s agent:


By Valerie Khoo

March 17th, 2020
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