Former Artists' Studio "The Yellow House" Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former Artists' Studio "The Yellow House" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Former Artists' Studio "The Yellow House" Including Interior
Other name/s: The Yellow House, Artists Studio; No 57 "San Diego" and No 59 "Amador"
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 57-59 Macleay Street, Potts Point, NSW 2011
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
57-59 Macleay StreetPotts PointSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Yellow House is socially and historically significant because it was a centre of great importance in the artistic and cultural history of Sydney in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A co-operative of artists ran the Yellow House from 1969 until 1972, including George Gittoes, Brett Whitely, Martin Sharp and others. Many of the artists involved are now of national standing. Apart from the association with the artists, significance is also claimed for the dimensions, layout and fabric of the rooms within the Yellow House that formed an integral part of the exhibitions, installations and works produced and shown in the place. The Yellow House is one of a few remaining buildings associated with the artist’s quarter and the Bohemian period in Kings Cross and Potts Point between the 1930s and 1970s. The building as part of a terrace at No 55-63 Macleay Street is also a fine and distinctive example of a Federation Queen Anne style terrace, which is a major work by the architect Maurice B. Halligan and contributes to the streetscape.
Date significance updated: 31 Aug 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Maurice B. Halligan
Construction years: 1897-1897
Physical description: Federation Queen Anne style brick terrace houses.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:09 Oct 98
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. .

With European occupation of the Sydney region from 1788, the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.
No 57 "San Diego" and No 59 "Amador" were built as part of a ten house terrace in 1897. They remained in residential use until 1957, when the front rooms became the Terry Clune Gallery, which acquired a reputation for showing young, radical artists. Artists who exhibited there included Russell Drysdale, John Olsen and John Perceval. Between 1970-72 a young Sydney artist Martin Sharp, turned the gallery space into what he described as "an artist community in the south, in the sun, and probably one of the greatest pieces of conceptual art ever achieved." Virtually every surface was painted with images inspired by the Surrealists and Van Gogh. The house became known as "The Yellow House", after Van Gogh's "Yellow House" in Arles, and was also the venue for cabarets, plays and films. Artists involved included Brett Whiteley, Peter Weir, Jim Sharman and George Gittoes. The building then returned to residential use, and functioned as a boarding house until 2003 when it was converted to apartments, with an art gallery space on the ground floor. Remnants of the 1970s work were found in the building and have been restored and repositioned for public viewing.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Community facilities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Yellow House is one of a few remaining buildings associated with the artist’s quarter and the Bohemian period in Kings Cross and Potts Point between the 1930s and 1970s.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with prominent architect Maurice B. Halligan. Also associated with an artist's co-operative who ran the Yellow House from 1969 until 1972 which included George Gittoes, Brett Whitely and Martin Sharp, who of national standing.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building as part of No 55 --63 Macleay Street is a fine and distinctive example of Federation Queen Anne style terrace.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
A centre of great importance in the artistic and cultural history of Sydney in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
SHR Criteria f)
57-59 Macleay Street is considered rare within the City of Sydney as one of a set of grand three storey Federation Queen Anne Style terraces.
SHR Criteria g)
Representaitve example of a Federation Queen Anne style terrace
Integrity/Intactness: Low-moderate
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I114014 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenB. Baskerville1997Report to the Heritage Council: nomination for a PCO, 57-59 Macleay St, Potts Point
WrittenRod Howard Heritage Conservation Pty Ltd1997The Yellow House, Potts Point: Analysis of Statement of Cultural Significance

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420201
File number: H97/01042

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.