Desire Line

A procession of hand drawn, native Australian insects, traces the route of Sydney Metro from Marrickville to Bankstown. 

About the artwork

Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s Desire Line is located on the new footbridge at Dulwich Hill Station. It forms part of the suite of transparent artworks in station concourse windows at the 10 metro stations from Marrickville to Bankstown, united by the theme Story Line. Desire Line is populated with hundreds of native Australian insects, carrying native plant material, in a delightful procession that traces the route of the metro line.

The artists worked with students from the Dulwich Hill School of Visual Arts and Design in the development of some of the artwork’s imagery, to foster a deeper awareness of local insects and flora endemic to the local area.

The wide, horizontal proportions of the glazed screen, with its 14 panels, reminded the artists of Eastern-style perspective  in the painted screens from traditional Japanese, Chinese and Korean art. 

Desire Line can be seen in its entirety from the distance of the platform, highlighting its mapping of Sydney Metro from Marrickville to Bankstown - and is particularly striking when illuminated by station concourse lighting at night. It’s Eastern-style perspective, and hand-drawn details, are experienced sequentially, as commuters accompany these delightful insect characters on their noble journey across the concourse – illuminated by the ever-changing light of each day’s sun.

Artist Statement

"Desire Line is a playful artwork that celebrates sustainable human infrastructure, whilst being mindful of the importance of the more humble creatures within our environment. 

The artwork is directly informed by the line Sydney Metro delineates through the city. By translating this line across the fourteen glazed panels of the Dulwich Hill Metro station concourse, a naturally Eastern-style of aesthetic perspective is created. This glazed horizontal plane eschews Western linear, object-centred perspective, and lends itself to an Eastern style, context-oriented scene, reminiscent of the painted folding screens of China, Japan and Korea. 

Our aesthetic is drawn from the Insect Daimyo Procession, an artwork produced during the Edo period (1603-1867), when the Tokugawa dynasty ruled Japan. This particular procession humorously depicts the ritual journey of the Daimyo (feudal lords) and regional warrior lords, who have been anthropomorphised as insects. This palanquin (carried passenger litter) procession, is similar to a line of train carriages in our age. It creates an artwork that can be understood in full from a distance, or taken in via individual panels, close up. 


In order to create the link between the post-colonial Dulwich Hill and pre-colonial Dulwich Hill we have chosen to render a procession of native Australian insects endemic to the Dulwich Hill area. The individual insect and plant species are drawn from entomological reference materials such as Insects of South-Eastern Australia, by Roger Farrow and the paintings of early Australian entomologist E.M. Zeck. Each of the insects depicted within the procession are carrying plant materials. These plants are drawn from Dulwich Hill’s pre-colonial beginnings of Turpentine, Ironbark and Tea tree, to name a few.

Desire Line is a collaborative community project realised through the fostering of a creative partnership with The Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design. We believe that the awareness of local insects and flora is an important part of developing a greater concern for our environment as a whole. With the decline of insect populations occurring globally due to introduced chemicals and decreased habitats, this artwork highlights the need to take care of the smaller details in our environment."

Artist Biography

The internationally recognised artist duo, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, use their art practice as a tool to help locate themselves within the systems employed by contemporary society. The pair believe that the central motif of our age is the tension created between the primacy of the individual, and the social contract that is subscribed to through our complex, global inter-dependency with our fellow human beings.

The formal and informal systems that our collective society utilises both supports and constricts the individuals that comprise the organisation.

Their practice reconfigures and juxtaposes elements of the biological, the historic, the cultural and the astronomical, to create artworks that help decipher who we are, and what we have gained and forfeited, in order to realise our present existence. 

Their work has been included in numerous exhibitions in Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, Taiwan, the UK and the USA. The City of Sydney commissioned their public work Cloud Nation which is located in the Green Square Library Tower.

Career Highlights include solo exhibitions at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; The Art Gallery of New South Wales; La bf15, Lyon, The Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC and a survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Healy and Cordeiro’s installation Life Span was part of the Australian representation at the 53rd Venice Biennale. They have also participated in the Auckland Triennale, the Adelaide Biennial, Setouchi Triennale and the Oku-Noto Triennale, Japan.