A Tale of Two Sippys

Rick Morrison illuminates a major public art installation to be seen as a sign of hope and community in a time of pestilence and confusion.


Helvetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

The local Councillor, Cristian Dickson, wanted to create a central community artwork as a unifying and defining entry statement for the Sippy Downs and Chancellor park area.

The design and eventual installation of this artwork tells a story that stiches history with the present day.

Stephen Burton owner & creative director of POMO Urban Architects was entrusted with the design of a large public feature piece to sit on the busy corner of Sippy Downs Drive and University Way, Sippy Downs. His design work engaged with the local student fraternity at the Sunshine Coast University.

In May 2019 we were engaged by POMO to design the lighting for this exciting new Public Art feature for The Sunshine Coast Council.


Background History

The earliest residents of the Sunshine Coast were the indigenous peoples consisting of the Gubbi-Gubbi (Kabi-Kabi) and Wakka-Wakka people. In the 1820s, former convicts, John Finnegan, Thomas Pamphlett and Richard Parsons landed on Moreton Island after becoming hopelessly lost fetching cedar. They lived with the Kabi-Kabi for eight months. Thereafter, during the 1830s to 1840s, the district became home to numerous runaway convicts from the Moreton Bay (Brisbane) penal colony slightly to the south. The Scottish immigrant, Andrew Petrie, was responsible for the exploration and mapping of the area now known as The Sunshine Coast. He forged an amicable relationship with the local indigenous peoples.


Modern Times

The Sunshine Coast is now home to over 330,000 residents, and the suburbs called Sippy Downs and Chancellor Park (in Councillor Chris Dickson’s Electorate) contains a population of about 22,000.  For those unfamiliar with Sippy Downs, it is a suburb at the base of Buderim Hill, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in which the Sunshine Coast University resides.


The name 'Sippy' is derived from the Aboriginal word Dhippi or Jippi, a name for 'winged creatures' and believed to be 'a place of birds’.

So really there are two Sippys – one intrinsically linked to the heritage of the place and the Gubbi-Gubbi people who lived there, and the other the modern suburb with its University precinct.

In keeping with the locations identity and heritage, Stephens design was based on the spreading wings of a Goshawk, native to the area.

To bring this to life in light, Stephen engaged Rick Morrison of Light in Design 2. Stephen and Rick had worked together on the development of the Mooloolaba Foreshore reinvigoration, and their synergy was evident in that work and continued in the Sippy Downs project.

The design development with POMO was a considered and deliberate process, with physical models, and 3D virtual renderings being used to proof the concepts.

From physical modellings and design development collaborations, the shape was produced in 3D Revit, which could then be used to generate lighting models.

Physical Models


Renders from AGi32


Design philosophy

Grazing light up the diagonal angle of each feather / fin structure was our desired method.

This would create a ‘strike of light’ up the angle, and graze light onto two of the feathers surfaces, effectively modelling each separate feather segment. Some of the feathers are 9 or more metres long, while others are about 1.5 high. Ricks plan was to model each feather separately, but also use the inevitable reflections and scatter to amplify the immediate ambiance about the art work. We used narrow 10 degree optic, RGB(WW) exterior ‘Lador’ projectors from Ligman Lighting.

Design execution

3D modelling allowed us to demonstrate the concept and then create a design specification for the Council to take to tender. Part of the tender document design phase was conceiving of an ingenious light fitting protection box to not only prevent vandalism, but also guide the aiming process. This ‘light box’ was designed to be integral with the base of each feather structure (see image below).


The lighting control system is Creative Lightings Spektra X DMX lighting control system. Each light fitting has four channels of DMX, so each feather can be a different colour.

For the commissioning of the lighting control system, Rick developed colour themes based on the native birds of the Sunshine coast, which included:


1.          Red Goshawk

2.         Rainbow Lorikeet

3.         Pale Rosella

4.         Crimson Rosella

5.         Blue Faced Honeyeater

6.         New Holland Honey Eater

7.         Wompoo Pidgeon

8.         Aboriginal Colours

9.         Sunshine Coast Council Logo Colours

10.       Warm White

11.        Sippy Sunset


Each of these themes is timed to run for an hour in sequence, and the sequence is set to a different start time, so the themes don’t repeat at the same times of night.

As well as these site specific themes, the Spektra system provides dozens of other ‘pre-set’ scenes, such as Red for the Day for Daniel event. Council made their choices from this list, and Rick worked with Alexander Cybulski of GAR Electrical (the installing electrical contractor), to commission the lighting system.



The finished installation is jaw dropping. But more than that, it is also proof of the power of design collaboration. The project is testimony to the benefits of collaboration and integration culminating, as they have, in a successful artistic lighting project.

We believe that the outcome is stunning, dynamic and elegant.


Design Credits

Lighting Design: Rick Morrison, Creative & Technical Director, Light in Design 2

Architects & Creative Enablement: Stephen Burton of POMO, Nambour

Electrical Engineers: Light in Design 2 team

Sunshine Coast Council Project Manager: Jamie Wilson

Installing Electricians: GAR Electrical, Alexander Cybulski

Structural installation: Aspect Group, Sunshine Coast

Photography: Rick Morrison, Councillor Christian Dixon


Luminaires and control

Control System: Control Freak Spektra X DMX, Control Freak DMX Splitter Repeater, Mikrotik Wi-Fi.

Android Spektra Application

Art Feather lighting: Lador 10-degree RGB(WW) spotlights by Ligman

Sign Lighting:  Linear led flex by Raylinc lighting