40 Years Of Protest, Love & Equality

Rebecca Varidel
5th Jul 2018

“The 24th of June 1978 was the beginning of in-your-face revolution. This is a time to think about the people who actually risked their lives in 1978, and the evolutionaries and revolutionaries over the last 40 years. The artists, the politicians, the social workers, the professionals, the drag queens, the trans people… I think it’s really important that we hold this day and remember it into the future.”


Sunday 24 June 2018 marked the historic 40th anniversary of the first ever Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebration turned protest. To celebrate Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and City of Sydney today unveiled 40 Years of Love, a vibrant inflatable art installation in the heart of Sydney’s LGBTQI district, Taylor Square.

Designed by Maurice Goldberg and Matthew Aberline, 40 Years of Love is a celebration of 40 years of Mardi Gras and uses symbols to represent the five themes of repression, adversity, freedom, diversity and love.

The project represents historic Mardi Gras concepts such as public protest, joyous celebration, community activation and engagement and incorporates many colours and shapes to express that Mardi Gras is not a singular concept, but a mixture of diverse ideas, people, histories, politics and expressions.

“We were struggling to describe a singular image to describe the history of Mardi Gras. It’s so varied, political, sexual, and the history of it is so complicated, so rather than trying to find a singular item, we decided to make a microcosm of what Mardi Gras is about – the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the celebration,” said Aberline.

“It’ll be nine metres high at its highest point above the ground,” Goldberg added. “That’s higher than a three-storey building. We want people to notice this – it’s a big, sassy, loud, undeniably in-your-face installation.”

The installation integrates with the existing Taylor Square architecture, rising above the iconic grass island and water fountain. The 360-degree work transforms the space into a light-filled outdoor pavilion so visitors are invited to walk through and explore its’ various images and symbols from different perspectives.

Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu said “40 years ago, on June 24, 1978, the first Mardi Gras celebration turned protest took place. Today, we not only pay respect to those that risked their lives for equality on that night and on nights since, but we also celebrate how the LBGTQI community has prevailed over the past 40 years. Maurice and Matthew’s artwork is a magnificent representation of 40 years of evolution and love.”

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras called for expressions of interest from artists to create a temporary public artwork last year. Co-funded by the City of Sydney, Goldberg and Aberline were announced as winners of the project in February this year. The installation will remain on Taylor Square until 1 September, 2018.

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said “Local artists Maurice Goldberg and Matthew Aberline have created an amazing inflatable artwork to celebrate that first bloody Mardi Gras which took place on our streets exactly 40 years ago. It has been an honour to have so many opportunities this year to come together with our 78ers and LGBTQI community and to commemorate 40 years of love and protest. I would also like to acknowledge those LGBTQI heroes who are no longer with us today.”

“At Mardi Gras in March, they were talking about the 40th anniversary of the festival, but the 24th of June is the actual date,” points out Goldberg. “It’s our day – it’s our Stonewall. This is the anniversary of a 40 year revolution that began in blood, in tears, and behind bars. It destroyed lives. Here we are 40 years on, with incredible liberty. We can’t understate it – this is so much more than a party. This is us putting our stake in the ground. Over 40 years the diverse LGBTQI community has come so far.