A tribute to Jørn Utzon, and the construction of the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney May-June 2014 (9 images)
This is part 4 of my VIVID 2014 series. We return to the main stage from Darling Harbour in my previous post.
During this year’s VIVID Festival of Sydney, one of the nice features of the Lighting the Sails display on the Sydney Opera House, was a visual tribute to Jørn Utzon, and the construction of the building.
In 1957, Utzon won a worldwide competition to design the Sydney Opera House. His submission was one of 233 designs from 32 countries. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, described it as “genius” and declared he could not endorse any other choice.
The designs Utzon submitted were little more than preliminary drawings. Concerned that delays would lead to lack of public support, the government of New South Wales nonetheless gave the go-ahead for work to begin in 1958. Utzon said his design was inspired by the simple act of peeling an orange: the 14 shells of the building, if combined, would form a perfect sphere. Sadly, as with such projects, a new government hostile to the arts came to power during the construction. Disagreements ensued and ultimately Utzon resigned from the job, closed his Sydney office and vowed never to return to Australia. The project ran over budget and over schedule.
The Opera House was finally completed, and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. Utzon was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name mentioned during any of the speeches. He was, however, to be recognized later when he was asked to design updates to the interior of the opera house. The Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated in October 2004. In a statement at the time Utzon wrote: “The fact that I’m mentioned in such a marvellous way, it gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don’t think you can give me more joy as the architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have got.”
Utzon died in 2008, He had never returned to Australia to see the completed opera house. On 2 December 2008 the Parliament of New South Wales passed a special motion of condolence to honour Utzon’s life and work.
The Vivid show included a recording of the original oratory from the local Premier in 1958:
“While it is true that in a changing world, it is necessary for us to equip ourselves with the means, and proper means, to fulfil our destiny by technological development, we must always be on guard to see that those purely material things do not supersede and usurp the humanity, the cultural things, the things we do for the improvement of our minds. I must say that I am personally, as a citizen, glad we have talked ourselves into this project. I think we’ve been like a family debating as to whether they can afford a new house, a new car, or even a television set. These drawings present the concept of an opera house that is capable of becoming one of the great buildings of the world…”
A recording of the voice of Utzon is also heard during the show. The signing of his signature by light beam on the plans and the opera house was a nice touch.
Construction of the supports commences over the design drawing.
The outer shells are assembled.
I hope you’re enjoying this series of posts. The next couple will really dive into the world of colour.
My previous VIVID Festival of Sydney photography:
VIVID 2014: Random VIVIDness 2014 (3)
VIVID 2014: Random VIVIDness 2014 (2)
VIVID 2014: Random VIVIDness 2014 (1)
VIVID 2013: Lights. Camera. Action!
VIVID 2013: Random Scenes of VIVIDness
VIVID 2012: Light the Night