“Shells on Shells”

Sydney May – June 2017 (14 photos)

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Vivid Sydney has returned for its 9th year and this is the 6th consecutive year that I have photographed it. Running from 26 May until 17 June, it is now in its final week for 2017. This free festival has become a major travel and tourism event for Sydney with an estimated 2.3 million visitors to last year’s festival. I don’t know if they took account of me visiting on multiple nights last year though. πŸ™‚

Once again, Vivid has returned to the Royal Botanic Gardens, next to the Sydney Opera House and it’s here that I’ll start my series of Vivid posts.

The Sunflowers
Artists: Francesco Cappuccio & Dutchanee Ongarjsiri

An orderly procession of potted sunflower sculptures harnesses solar energy during the day, then uses this energy to light up at night. Just as sunflowers respond directionally to light (heliotropism), so these sculptures repeatedly move as if following the sun.

Sunflowers are frequently associated with happiness, positivity and adoration: in Oriental cultures, sunflowers signify intelligence, strength, good luck and a long life.

Birds of Lumos
Artists: Renzo B. Larriviere & Simone Chua

The artists have made these two little birds representative of the rare Rowi species of kiwi, and their work is a comment on the importance of conservation and the protection of wildlife.

As visitors gather around them, Rowi and her chick come to life β€” glowing and pulsating different colours through their light globe bodies. If Rowi senses danger, she will go through a β€˜charge’ sequence; her glow will dim for a few seconds to β€˜charge up’ and then illuminate in an intense display of light. Unfortunately 95% of kiwi hatched in the wild are killed by introduced pests and predators. The Rowi kiwi (one of five kiwi species) is highly endangered, with a population of just 450 birds remaining.

Artist: Joshua Wilkinson, Patrick Shirley & Daniel Thomas

Pressing a big red button triggers a projection mapping/sound design sequence and the bush bursts spectacularly into flames, burning until there is nothing left but charred black leaves and smoke.

The smoking remains stay that way until another participant steps up to press the button – at which point the bush begins sprouting tiny green leaves, which gradually grow until finally the plant is healthy again.

Dipping Birds
Artist: Lucka Slatner

Dipping Birds is reminiscent of the β€˜drinking bird’ novelty toy from years ago. Two large abstract birds, each over two meters tall, stand in a body of water. Both the birds and the water are lit with colour changing LED lights. As the birds dip their beaks into the water, they gradually change colour from head to toe, their hues altering to match the colour of the pond lights. After one bird has β€˜soaked up the colour’ it straightens up, leaving the pond in a different light and the other bird repeats the action.

Artist: Claudio Porras

SPREADING LIFE is inspired by the experience of blowing on a dandelion. This installation captures the delicate moment when a dandelion’s seeds float off and spread through the air; a passage of nature β€” that shows us that as a flower dies, others are born.

The work offers a unique form of interaction, inviting people to blow on two small light sculptures equipped with sensors and crafted into the form of dandelion flowers. To ensure the message is clear, neon is positioned alongside the flowers and forms the word β€˜BLOW’ with moving arrows indicating the appropriate spot.

Visitors who approach and take up the invitation to interact with the small dandelions activate a bright animation in an adjacent group of larger flowers β€” the seeds light up and begin to glow in space and a sound simulates their floating away through the air. Ultimately this lovely work reminds us that blowing on a dandelion represents hopes, dreams and desires.

Artists: Alexander Berlage & Jeremy Allen

A sign based on the original HOLLYWOODLAND sign.
Just in case you didn’t know where you were. πŸ™‚

I seem to be a bit behind in my posting at the moment. I’ll return to my New Zealand posts momentarily.

Dragon tales of Middle Earth: Somewhere in Otago

I’ve even got a few more posts about Cambodia and the Blue Mountains still to come.


This is Part 1 of my VIVID Sydney 2017 series.

All of my photography from this series and previous years of VIVID Sydney going back to 2012 can be found here:
VIVID Sydney page

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Vivid 2017: In the Night Garden


69 thoughts on “Vivid 2017: In the Night Garden

  1. Big thank you for visiting and “liking” the boy on the metal horse mural. I just really like that mural but no-one had given it a like! I really LOVE this post, all of it, but being from NZ I was especially taken by the kiwis which I didn’t expect to see! So even bigger thanks for sharing all these images as there’s no way I can make it over to Sydney!

    • My pleasure. Thank you very much. The light sculptures and installations are from all over the world. The kiwis were particularly popular. They made gentle sounds as well.

  2. KG says:

    It felt like last week when I was seeing your photos of Vivid and you say its already been a year 😲… Time does fly

  3. J.D. Riso says:

    Wow, it’s Vivid time again already. I love this set of installations, especially the dandelions. So whimsical.

    • It’s funny, every time someone blew into the sign and the dandelions became lit, there would be a collective “oooh aaah” from the other people watching. Some light installations really hit the mark with the crowds. πŸ™‚

  4. I was just wondering if we’ll get to see Vivid 2017 series here. πŸ™‚ I like the garden theme. Btw, I’m drinking my afternoon tea while enjoying the night garden show. Thank you! πŸ™‚
    These photos of the your opening session is really awesome, Dragon!

    • Thank you. It took me a while to realise the sunflowers were actually moving repeatedly in an east-west orientation. Very clever addition to the light installations. πŸ™‚

  5. Beautifully done again for Vivid. Seems to be the theme of nature in this one. The Sydneyland sign is interesting. I’m taking that is is huge and you incorporated people in the shot to show how bustling Sydney is. Which it is 😊 Good luck with the rest of Vivid and looking forward to the other images you got waiting.

    • Thanks. I guess there’s always an element of social conscience whenever art is allowed free rein, so I’m not surprised that nature is a prominent concept most years.

      The last photo shows the sign relative to the Opera House to give you an idea of its size. Big enough to see but not overpowering. It constantly changes colours during the night.

  6. All I ever seem to say after I view your posts is ‘I just love your photographs’…and again these are stunning but this time I have also really enjoyed reading the commentary about Vivid – such a wonderful display and how interesting is the history behind the sculpture.

    • Thank you as always. The light sculptures are entertaining enough, but a little knowledge of the artists’ thinking helps explain the relevance of the artworks. I find that interesting.

  7. You have such a gift for drawing your viewer into your moment. Another year of Vivid and I feel as though I’ve almost experienced it live. Happy to be there again, as I know you were. Congratulations on the big mention from WP Discovery. Wonderful!

  8. I find your Sydney light series so enchanting every year, Draco. Interesting techniques in this post, with so much interaction. I enjoyed your descriptions as well as the excellent photos. The innovations every year are wildly wonderful, and I so appreciate you bringing this show to us.

    • Thank you very much, Jet. This year, many of the installations were interactive and that really draws the crowds in. Fortunately, it is dark enough to start the lights at 6pm so the young kids can come into the city and see the lights.

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