Publication Details

Organ, M. 2016, 'The Yellow House revisited', Aquarius Redux: Rethinking Architecture's Counterculture Conference, pp. 1-31.


Martin Sharp's Yellow House represents a transitional phase in the countercultural movement within Australia, from the peace and love Utopian ideals of the Sixties through to the disenchantment and technological changes of the Seventies. Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's similarly titled building and aborted artist community in the south of France during the 1880s, and the British Arts Lab movement of the late 1960s, a 3-storey Victorian era terrace building in Sydney was transformed into a work of art, living museum, experimental art gallery and performance space, under the liberating and libertine guidance of Martin Sharp - an artist who had experienced some of the extraordinary cultural changes taking place in London and Europe between 1966-69. The Yellow House was a unique expression of the counterculture's disparate elements through a redundant example of the built environment, namely a former art gallery and guest house facing the threat of demolition. Art and architecture fused with lifestyle and culture within a veritable rabbit warren of rooms and performance spaces. Though innately ephemeral, the venture succeeded, during its relatively short period of existence between May 1970 and March 1973, in providing an expressive outlet for a disparate group of counterculture artists, performers and commentators.