Vivid Sydney is back from May 26 to June 17. There will be luminous light installations every night from 6-11pm, stretching from the Botanic Gardens to Darling Harbour. For the first time this year there’ll be using the streets of Barangaroo as a canvas for light projections, including the terrifying Trapdoor (see below). See Steampunk in Chatswood, a giant Port Jackson shark at Taronga Zoo and kiwis in the Botanic Gardens. Find our top picks of the Vivid Ideas program. Nick Murphy tells us his Vivid Live show will be unlike anything he's done before.
10 Vivid Light installations to seek out
For the first time, Vivid Sydney will stream into a new precinct at Barangaroo. Careful where you step because the Sydney-based Spinifex Group have created an optical illusion called the Trapdoor. The ground will appear to open up around Wulugul Walk revealing a frightening subterranean world.
Last year was the first time the Royal Botanic Garden hosted light installations for Vivid, including the impressive ‘Cathedral of Light’ – one of the most Instagrammed artworks in 2016. This year they’ll have ‘Birds of Lumos’, an artwork inspired by the rare Rowi species of the New Zealand kiwi. They will glow and pulse with colour. Artists amigo and amigo have made these two little birds as a comment on the importance of conservation.
As part of Vivid LIVE, Sydney-based artist Ash Bolland will be lighting the sails with his hypnotic ‘Audio Creatures’, accompanied by music from Brazilian electronic producer Amon Tobin. Expect vivid depictions of insects, animals, plant life and the marine underworld. Acclaimed cinematographer, editor, and graphic designer Bolland has developed Audio Creatures so that the otherworldly characters morph and move across the iconic sails.
Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo will return featuring giant animal light sculptures that wowed visitors when they made their debut last year. A few new characters and surprises will join the 2016 favourites, including a swarm of buzzing bees, and a giant interactive Port Jackson shark. Taronga Zoo’s light artworks are ticketed ($16.95-$21.95) and they operate from 5.30-9.30pm. You can also dine above the illuminations at Taronga Zoo.
Bangarra Dance Theatre has created a Vivid Light art installation that honours one of Australia’s most mythologised and celebrated individuals from the days of first contact: Woollarawarre Bennelong. See the story of his life as it's depicted in contemporary movement and projected on the southern pylon of the Harbour Bridge. Artistic director Stephen Page and head of design Jacob Nash have created a work that shows Bennelong's audacious personality and important story as the first Indigenous author, and one of the first Aboriginal people to have their life story recorded and documented by Western writers.
Remember those pin art toys people had in the ’90s? The ones you used to press your face into and see how big your nose really was? This is like a giant, digital version of that. The Buchan Group have created a sculpture that represents the human face but in a way that challenges how we understand and respond to modern technology. You’ll see many expressions and from different angles you’ll see either sharper or smoother depictions of the image. You’ll find this one in the Botanic Gardens.
Cadman’s Cottage, one of Sydney’s oldest buildings, is often where you’ll find playful and interactive light installations that are especially fun for kids. Step into one of four themed 3D ‘stages’ and tinker with the keyboard projected on the ground. You’ll hear new soundscapes with every note you play and see a entertaining story displayed for all to watch and (hopefully) join in the fun.
Martin Place will be home to Sydney’s most popular food and beverage purveyors, alongside grand, interactive light installations. Highlights include a new version of the multi-award winning 3D-mapped projection Urban Tree 2.0, and Deep Forest, an urban jungle for feasting featuring an open flame fire-pit with barbeque treats from Porteño and some of NSW’s best fire chefs. Ample Projects transforms the Commercial Travellers Association (CTA) building in Martin Place into a mushroom-shaped tree teeming with exotic creatures.
As always, walking around Circular Quay will be a main attraction after 6pm. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will light up with Organic Vibrations, a collaboration between Australian artist Julia Gorman and the Paris-based creative and artistic collective Danny Rose. It’ll appear as though the MCA is mutating with abstract shapes and colours, which will grow and grow until it covers the Gallery’s waterfront façade.
The buildings, shopping malls, streets and laneways of Chatswood CBD will be reinvented as a retro-futuristic smart city called Future City, Smart City with ingenious installations and light sculptures inspired by the ‘Steampunk’ design aesthetic of 19th century steam-powered machinery. The futuristic sails of The Concourse performing arts centre will be the canvas for a future world of flying cars, airborne houses and water farms in the clouds.
Find more Vivid Sydney events
You’ve Roared and Snored and caught your favourite acts at Twilight at Taronga, so now it’s time for dinner at the zoo, which is a new experience being offered as part of Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo. From May 26 to June 17, Taronga’s the View Restaurant will be transformed into an underwater haven with incredible oceanic light projections, marine sounds and marine-inspired lighting.
If the impressive Vivid Sydney line-up wasn’t enough, this masterful winter festival is turning things up a notch with an illuminated dancefloor located – where else? – on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. RedBalloon and Destination NSW have introduced a dancefloor in the sky for this year’s festival, effectively letting Sydneysiders bust a move atop the world’s most recognisable bridge.