Not to be content with fireworks at least 300 days of the year, each winter, Sydney presents ‘Vivid’: ‘a unique event of light, music and ideas’. Each year, I think, ‘it’s just a some garishly coloured lights in the city’, but as it’s a most pleasant hop on the ferry to get there, we invariably bear the cold and make the trip.
And without fail, I get there and find it the most magical of occasions. I ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and end up with my finger glued to my iPhone camera and this year found myself wondering how I might be able to make a link to a gardening blog. I so wanted to share this amazing experience and yet it wasn’t in the least bit on topic.
That is, it wasn’t on topic until we got to Customs House, just behind circular quay ferry terminal. We could see a huge crowd there – it was really slow to approach – but I remembered that last year this had been the real highlight of the event. It’s one of the biggest spaces at that end of the city and so they really go to town. There was music blaring….I couldn’t wait to see it. But we had to work our way around barriers – they really had prepared for the huge crowds – and as the building came into view…
Telopea flowers? And Strelitzia, bird of paradise? Could this really be true? I pressed the button quickly on my phone. I didn’t want to miss the one second of flowers. How exciting was this?
We moved forward into a good spot to watch the display, essentially a huge video fitted specifically to the architectural form of Customs House, accompanied by what I can only describe as ‘Disney’ music. Twinkly, magical, story-telling music; music that can’t help but put you in a bright, happy, upbeat mood.
And the amazing thing was, the Telopea didn’t disappear to be replaced by a flashy car, or the kissing lips that we had last year (which were actually quite fun!). They were replaced by more plants, even more plants and then more plants still.
In fact, it turned out, the artists’ intent was to remind the audience of the ‘organic nature of the city and the enchantment of natural design’. Woohoo!
The graphics were designed to ‘integrate natural imagery with textures and colours that are reflective of Sydney in all its moods and seasons’. So, we had the dynamic growth of spring, where some beanstalk-like vine burst through the facade of the building until it was almost covered.
We then got a proper view of the Telopea again, along with a mix of other spring flowers, some (Strelitzia, Protea) a little more identifiable than others (cream flannel flowers??, blue Ipheion bulbs??), but I didn’t mind in the slightest. Sydney was celebrating plants for once and I’d take whatever I could get!
I read afterwards, that the artwork was intended to mix ‘familiar (and not so familiar) aspects of Sydney’s natural environment to create a continually evolving and blossoming world’, projecting free-flowing images of Sydney’s flora and fauna.
At the time, I had assumed this was wisteria, with the twisted, gnarled trunks, but knowing what I know now, I think it must be Sydney’s colourful Jacaranda; I really shouldn’t be so picky that the trunks just didn’t have the right bark for Jacaranda!
And just as I didn’t think I could get any more excited, a gardener appeared on the building. Yes, a real life (well, virtual real life) gardener. Look, you can see his secateurs doing some pruning on the left hand side.
And once he had finished the pruning, he had a fight with a really rather large snail that had crawled into his garden. You can see him approach the snail and, just as in real life, at the end of the struggle, the snail seemed to be the one coming out on top!
If this had been London, or even Melbourne, I would have been pleasantly surprised to see a gardening theme, but not absolutely amazed. This is Sydney! We’re not into gardening in Sydney. But how fantastic that the number one feature of Vivid was flora-focussed.
As we wandered along circular quay to get our ferry home, I was pretty excited to have a gardening story to ‘tell’ my blog! My photos aren’t the best, but hopefully you’ll also be excited to hear that Sydney is becoming a gardening city.
We can live in hope.
If you’d like to see the full eight minute flora and fauna ‘Enchanted Sydney’ video, there a great recording of it here. Better in person, but still fun on youtube.