Monday 12 March 2012: Hard Rock Calling
Hyde Park Barracks was one of the first really substantial buildings in Sydney. Designed by the brilliant convict architect Francis Greenway, it was built in 1819 to house, clothe and feed convicts transported to this part of New South Wales. It was not a prison; convicts either lived here and worked out in gangs (including chain gangs) or lived and worked out in the community and reported here as required. As Sydney developed a middle class, the sight of chain gangs walking to and fro in the smartest quarter of town became unacceptable, and demands grew for the convicts to be removed elsewhere. The Barracks passed through a series of other uses - court house, girls' reformatory, etc - before being reborne as a heritage building. The creative tension between architects, historians and curators resulted in a brilliant piece of restoration and display in which the whole history of the building is laid bare, with just the right balance of explanation and interaction. This is a dormitory in which the atmosphere is enhanced by the silhouettes and recorded voices.
The title? Many of the convicts worked on building projects using the (not especially hard) local sandstone. The other Hyde Park has an annual concert of that name. I know - a bit lame.