In just a matter of days, White Night Melbourne will return this Saturday 20 February 2016 for 12 hours from 7.00pm, transforming Melbourne’s city streets, major cultural institutions, public spaces, gardens, landmark buildings and laneways.
To help navigate the many opportunities on offer, White Night Melbourne’s Artistic Director Andrew Walsh and his team have put together a selection of curated White Night Trails designed around locations and themes.
If you’re interested in seeing the major illuminations, planning a family friendly evening, interacting with art, discovering contemporary indigenous stories, tracking down strange creatures or simply absorbing the pure entertainment of music and dance, a trail can form the basis of your night’s plan.
1. The Greatest Shows on Earth
A treat for the whole family, The Big Top precinct (Carlton Gardens including the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum) is a great place to bring the family for an all-encompassing adventure.
Visit Melbourne Museum’s Wominjeka: Blak Night featuring the award-winning First People’s exhibition at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, alongside music and projections in the beautiful outdoor Milarri Garden. Marvel at the gravity-defying acrobatics and aerial work at the nearby Circus Circus, presented by Vichealth, or try your hand at juggling or hula hooping with the interactive Circus Playground.
Grab a bite to eat from the many food stalls and then once the sun has set, get ready for an astonishing transformation of the Royal Exhibition Building designed by Portuguese lighting and projection artists OCUBO in an international collaboration with Ballarat’s Pitcha Makin’ Fellas from 8.45pm.
2. Aurora Borealis
Building-mapping, lighting and projections are the main attractions at White Night events across the globe and Melbourne proudly delivers illuminations from among the world’s best. Aurora Borealis – the fancy name for Northern Lights – is a hit list of the best and brightest, large and small, illuminations on display in the northern precincts of the White Night footprint.
Start at the top of the town with OCUBO and Pitcha Makin’ Fellas transformation of the Royal Exhibition Building, from 8.45pm. Then head south to Craig Walsh’s Incubator at the Melbourne City Baths. Keep your eyes open for the mathematical magic of the Fibonacci Rings and the burlesque fashion of Kaleidodreams.
The State Library Victoria lights up with Landscaping Architecture in the forecourt and Ideation in the La Trobe Reading Room as well as a monumental slide show of iconic Australian Rennie Ellis’ photography in Decade and Decadent. Cross Swanston and head to Lt Lonsdale for The Universe Within.
3. Aurora Australis
Building-mapping, lighting and projections are the main attractions at White Night events across the globe and Melbourne proudly delivers illuminations from among the world’s best. Aurora Australis – the fancy name for Southern Lights is a hit list of the best and brightest, large and small, illuminations on display in the central and southern precincts of the White Night footprint.
Start your trail from the south at the National Gallery of Victoria with Still Here, Josh Muir’s story of Aboriginal people in Victoria projected onto the St. Kilda Road façade. Then make your way over Princes Bridge to Federation Square for Reko Rennie’s phenomenal transformation of Melbourne’s favourite meeting place in Federation2.
Venture into the CBD for some illuminating monkey business including Gorilla at the Window, Moving Mountains and the contemplative Place of Longing in Rainbow Alley. And while you’re in the area look out for the innovative and intimate creations of Collaging Realities and Penumbra.
White Night Melbourne is more than pretty (amazing) lights. Also programmed is an array of interactive elements where you become part of the art. Start at Queen Victoria Gardens where you’re invited to venture into the Underworld with Black Mirror, a gestural augmented reality projection artwork; or immerse yourself in the light sculpture, Seven Spires.
Over St Kilda Road the mother of all interactive projects takes place at Arts Centre Melbourne where the audience unlocks the mysteries of the Spire through Cmd. Ctrl. Decipher. Head under the Princes Bridge for the ghoulish Electroplasm. And over the Yarra to Birrarung Marr for Painting with Light.
Indoors at ACMI you can try out the latest in virtual reality gear at the VR Revolution. And if you’re looking or more intimate one-on-one action then hop up to City Square and shake your avatar booty as one of the VCA’s Urban Creatures or drop into the Collins Street Baptist Church for the unusual anamorphics of Collaging Realities.
5. White Night Safari
It’s been said before that cultural events often take on a life of their own once the curtain opens or the lights are switched on. Deciding whether to tame the beast or let it run wild is an artistic balancing act. White Night Melbourne contains its fair share of creative creatures and this trail is for animal lovers and game hunters alike.
Start your White Night Safari with Incubator at Melbourne City Baths where Craig Walsh has created an aquatic breeding ground of luminescent life forms. Head south to Melbourne Town Hall where artist Lisa Roet goes simian with her larger than life Golden Monkey.
Then drop by City Square where you can take charge of VCA Animators’ Urban Creatures. At St Paul’s Cathedral the simian theme continues with Gorillas at the Window. And across at ACMI it’s felines and film with the Walker Art Center Cat Video Festival. Avid hunters can also track down the elusive Les Méduses, a colourful array of giant jellyfish floating throughout the city.
At the core of many cultural events lies the art of storytelling and it’s inevitable – and essential – that Melbourne’s story begins with the Kulin Nation. While the Dreamtime Trail spans millennia, it’s powerful insights and inspiring stories exist in the creative minds and modern lives of many contemporary indigenous artists.
The story starts at the Melbourne Museum with The First People’s exhibition at the centre of the Womenjika: Blak Night program. Across the plaza, Ballarat mob the Pitcha Makin’ Fellas, in a collaboration with Portuguese lighting and projection artists OCUBO, turn aboriginal art on its head with their humorous re-interpretation of traditional storytelling.
At the other end of town, Indigenous artist Reko Rennie illuminates Melbourne’s favourite meeting place for Federation2. And while you’re there, drop into ACMI for screenings of Tracey Moffatt’s short film Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy and the satirical mockumentary on race relations, Babakiueria.
NGV Australia: The Ian Potter Centre offers yet another angle on Indigenous culture with an exhibition and activities celebrating the Alice Spring’s Hermannsburg Potters (7pm – 11pm). Cross the bridge to NGV International where young Indigenous artist Josh Muir’s work Still Here adorns the gallery façade, complete with animation from Ample Projects and a soundtrack by Emma Donovan and James Henry.
Indigenous voices permeate the program above and beyond art and illuminations – check the music stages for artists including Thelma Plum, Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, and hip hop powerhouse, Briggs.
7. Words and Music
Voices and instruments abound at White Night Melbourne with a music bowl of classics, four stages of blues, grooves, dance and pop, two busker pitches, a cathedral of concerts, a poet’s corner and roving drummers delivering the equivalent of over 100 hours of live entertainment from more than 220 performers.
Check out the line-ups below on the website and tailor your own all night mini music festival. Go loud and proud at Live on Lonsdale. Chill with the cool kids at Grooves on Bourke. Discover the world of beat poetry at Melbourne Speaks Poetry in City Square. Relax in St Paul’s Cathedral with a trio of sumptuous performances.
Dance the night away at Birrarung Marr with Trip the Light Fantastic. Get down, and back up again with the Blues Speakeasy Stage at Star Lawn in Alexandra Gardens. Check out the best of street performers at the Buskers Pitch at A’Beckett Street and Collins Street.
Pull up a patch of green at the Bowl for a free performance from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – gates open at 4.30pm until approximately 10.30pm. Or hit the rhythm of the streets with roving musos pounding the pavement.
8. Off the Ground
Spend your White Night in the south where the entertaining program encourages participation and interactive opportunities for the whole family. Follow the White Night Melbourne ‘Off the Ground’ Trail. Start your night in Alexandra Gardens where the team from BIG hART are hosting Skate White Night All Night.
Set yourself up on the river bank – the perfect viewing platform for Aqua Vitae. Then wander through Queen Victoria Gardens where you’ll find Tae Gon Kim’s beautifully luminescent The Dresses. Or enjoy live entertainment at the Blues Speakeasy Stage. You can also venture into the underworld with Black Mirror, a gestural augmented reality projection artwork; or immerse yourself in the light sculpture, Seven Spires.
Over St Kilda Road the mother of all interactive projects takes place at Arts Centre Melbourne where the audience unlocks the mysteries’ of the Spire through Cmd. Ctrl. Decipher. And the National Gallery of Victoria is lit up with Still Here, Josh Muir’s story of Aboriginal people in Victoria projected onto the St. Kilda Road façade.
White Night Melbourne commences 7.00pm on Saturday 20 February, and finishes 7.00am on Sunday 21 February 2016. For more information and complete program, including White Night Trails, visit: www.whitenightmelbourne.com.au for details.
Image: Amanda Morgan’s Landscaping Architecture at State Library of Victoria (supplied)