Vivid Sydney is a highlight – literally – of the city’s events calendar each year. The 2020 celebration was cancelled due to COVID-19 but in 2021, the festival of light, music and ideas is back, between 17 September and 9 August. There will be 50 installations and artworks to view along the Light Walk at Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, The Rocks and Barangaroo – these are the ones you don’t want to miss.
Lighting of the Sails: Yarrkalpa (Hunting Ground), Sydney Opera House
Image credit: Yarrkalpa - Hunting Ground, 2021 by the Martu Artists and Curiious with soundtrack by Electric Fields and Martu Artists (Inspired by Yarrkalpa – Always Walking Country 2014).
The illumination of this landmark’s soaring sails is always a festival highlight. This year, they will feature an installation of the collective painting Yarrkalpa (Hunting Ground), Parnngurr Area 2013 by several Martu artists depicting the parnngurr community and country.
Image credit: New York Sunday/Destination NSW
This bustling harbour is always the centrepiece of Vivid and this year will be no exception. The façade of Customs House will become a story in motion with the looping 3D animation Vorax; the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge will celebrate the Gadigal people with a story of the Sydney Basin told in the photography and graphics of Sharing the Same Life Essence; the grounds of the quay will feature a work designed especially for Vivid by UTS students; and the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art will be illuminated with a geometric, abstract installation based on the works of Australian artist Helen Eager.
Image credit: Vorax at Customs House/Destination NSW
Image credit: Shard/Destination NSW
Make your way to The Cut, the heritage-listed sandstone tunnel, where you’ll find projections of mutating, evolving creatures set to music by artist Dirty Monitor. Nearby, stop to watch Shard, a trio of 2.2-metre tall light sculptures that share Dreamtime stories, and Light Sentinels, a bed of four-metre tall kinetic flowers.
Darling Harbour and Barangaroo
These waterside precincts are strewn with magical orbs and luminous spheres during Vivid: Ephemeral is a collection of giant bubbles bobbing gently on the surface of Cockle Bay, changing colour throughout the evening; Corpi Celesti is an immersion in the moon landing complete with inflatable planets; and Macula is a walk-through tunnel in Tumbalong Park made from sustainable bamboo that pulses to an Amazonian soundtrack.
Image credit: Ephemeral/Destination NSW
Vivid isn’t just about the lights. The Vivid Ideas program is a collection of panels and workshops across the three-week festival designed to open up discussion. Highlights include a chat between comedian Magda Szubanski and author Julia Baird discussing the power of laughter; actor Jameela Jamila via video link talking stereotypes; and Yorta Yorta man and musician Briggs in conversation with Nat from popular YouTube channel Nat’s What I Reckon.
Top image credit: Yarrkalpa - Hunting Ground, 2021 by the Martu Artists and Curiious with soundtrack by Electric Fields and Martu Artists (Inspired by Yarrkalpa – Always Walking Country 2014).