We’re not talking about life in the New York City fast lane (Jay McInerney’s 1984 novel covers off on that topic quite sufficiently). We mean the increasing use of lighting to creative effect during city events and celebrations, and the growing instances of light installations stepping out of their previous supporting roles to become destinations in themselves.

One such destination was the recent Light Garden in Centennial Park. A key celebratory event for the Park’s 125-year anniversary, the 10-day program (18 – 27 January) saw the nightly illumination of the paperbark grove, transforming it into a ‘Boulevard of Light’, leading to ‘The Light Garden’, made up of hundreds of multi-coloured lights designed to resemble the 125 year old formal gardens of the park proper.

Inviting everyone to a picnic in the park, the organisers (the event was a partnership between Centennial Parklands and AGB Events) provided nightly entertainment in the form of live music, roving illuminated entertainers, an outdoor photo gallery, workshops and screenings. But the piece de resistance was the lighting installation, masterminded by creative director Anthony Bastic (of AGB Events) and lighting designer Andre Kesckes (of Creative Lighting & Audio). Delicately constructed using 4000 individual low-energy lighting elements, the ‘garden’ emitted a magical glow, twinkling and glistening around the thousands of visitors, attracted to the installation like moths to a bulb.

And it’s not just light installations which are attracting crowds. Where previously lights were used simply to illuminate artworks, lighting is now being used to bring art to life. Witness the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade through Sydney’s streets last year. The giant paper animals were literally glowing with warm light, giving a human element and bringing a sense of animation to what could otherwise be a static form. We can’t wait to see what this year’s parade will offer come February 17th.

Using light to bring art to life is one thing, but using light as art in its own right is taking it one step further – and that’s exactly the focus of Sydney’s annual Vivid Festival. The 2013 edition (24 May – 10 June) is the fifth incarnation of Destination NSW’s winter festivities, and Vivid’s footprint is growing along with its popularity. After 2012, attendance figures showed an increase of 25% on the previous year, the organisers of this years’ Festival are again expecting record numbers. Vivid Light 2013, the cornerstone of the Vivid events, will include an increased number of light sculpture installations, additional CBD and Heritage building façade projections and the famous illumination of the Opera House sails.

Bringing together lighting designers from across the country and creative minds from around the globe, Vivid Light is the perfect opportunity to experience innovative and interactive light art in the stunning surrounds of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore. Previous years saw crowds of all ages being entertained by both large and small scale installations, the sculptures and projections providing amusement and delight long into the cold, dark and sometimes rainy, Sydney night.

Just goes to show the public’s appetite for all things illumination is seemingly insatiable.


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