2022 marks Vivid Festival’s 12th year in operation. Warming the soul of the frigid Sydney nights, its radiant light brings the urban landscape to lifecasting moving imagery in technicolour. Let’s have a look at some of the main events from Week 1.
The Vivid Festival runs from May 27 until June 18th. It has become somewhat of an institution over its time. A light-filled joy, welcoming the short days and cold nights. It’s a delight for the imaginations of small children. It also provides Insta-worthy content for those of us without the ready cash to jump-aboard a flight to Bali at the first sniff of an oncoming cold snap.
It is a long time favourite Sydney festival of mine because of what it represents; that time of the year in which Sydney is not too crowded, the water is the most beautiful blue, and the crisp winter chill has us all walking around in massive parkers for a very brief moment. But more than that, it is a celebration of art. Of the innovative, creative digital artists who are at the forefront of an oft, underappreciated industry. This is their time to shine and be admired. And they are, by an audience of no less than hundreds of thousands of people. It’s celebrating the beauty of a wonderful city on a night filled with brilliant shining lights.
The opening night of Vivid Sydney 2022 launched with “First Light”. This powerful acknowledgement to Country celebrates our First Nations culture. It is shaped by Creative Advisor, Rhoda Roberts AO. The Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons form an intimidating but beautiful backdrop, illuminating “Sharing the Same Life Essence”, which celebrates the Gadigal people and Country.
Taking its inspiration from our First Nations people, the event includes a Welcome to Country, Smoking Ceremony. It also featured an especially designed performance by NAISDA dancers.
LIGHTING OF THE SAILS
Known as “Lighting of the Sails”, this year Sydney-based creative technologists Curiious brought life to the stunning Martumili collective painting “Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground, Parnngurr Area 2013” across the spectacular sails, extending the Martu Artists’ stories beyond the walls of a gallery. It was the second collaboration with First Nations artists used in the “Lighting of the Sails”.
Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground is a visually striking and complex painting. It brims with vibrant colour and energy and depicts the Parnngurr community and surrounding landscape.
THE LIGHT WALK
The most iconic event on the Vivid Calendar, is, without doubt, the famous sprawling Light Walk – spanning all corners of the CBD. The Light Walk sees more than 50 installations on an 8km path from the harbour to Central Station. It can actually take a dedicated Vivid enthusiast 2 or 3 nights to complete it in full.
This year the Light Walk features an additional music element. “For the first time, we’ve got free concerts on the Tumbalong Park stage called ‘Tumbalong Nights’, every Wednesday to Saturday,” says Vivid festival director Gill Minervini. There are DJ performances each night at The Goods Line at Haymarket. This and a roster of live bands at Central Station’s Grand Concourse. Minervi says, “The Light Walk this year is more than just the Light Walk; there’s a whole musical soundtrack completely free as part of that”. Vivid also includes two new art and light-filled precincts. this brings the total number of Light Walk locations to 11.
Walsh Bay shows off an ethereal landscape resemblant to a scene from Fantasia. A floating boardwalk weaves between 150 larger-than-life illuminated spheres, allowing viewers to experience the pure joy of effervescence. It’s a beautiful attempt to transform Walsh Bay into a giant bubble bath. This playful work appeals to our sense of childlike wonder through the ethereal quality of bubbles.
A unique design concept features the bubbles lit from within, thus allowing the iridescent orbs to change colour throughout the night. Choreographed to a unique soundscape, they illuminate the surface of the water creating an unmissable dance of light. This is a surreal, not to be missed experience, which has been a highlight of Week 1 and continues into Week 2.
SKYMAGIC AND PARAMOUNT DRONE SHOW
London and Singapore-based Drone Company, SKYMAGIC orchestrated a show featuring 600 of its proprietary drones. This set a Southern Hemisphere record for the number of UAVs performing at once. In some flagrantly sponsored advertising, the May 29th evening display comes with backing from Paramount. It celebrates the launch of the Paramount+ streaming service in the region. The theme of the performance above Sydney Habour is “Unique Stories, Iconic Stars, and a Mountain of Entertainment.” But in reality, was a dim tribute to Paw Patrol, Star Wars, and other top-selling entertainment from Paramount.
Groundbreaking, but Leaves Something to be Desired
With a disturbingly grating Hollywood soundtrack featuring audio clips from different Paramount features, the show ran for eight minutes in total. Drone show fans who missed out can watch over the Paramount+ livestream, Youtube and Vivid Sydney social platforms. Although the achievement is groundbreaking, and SKYMAGIC’s first entry into Australian waters, the content of the show leaves something to be desired.
VIVID LIVE AT SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
The Opera House is not only the dazzling epicentre of the light exhibit. It is also a feature point for live entertainment at the Sydney Vivid Festival. “Vivid Live” at Sydney Opera House features a sprawling line-up including over 70 Australian and international artists.
Australian legend Paul Kelly and other fellow artists introduce the event on the night of May 27. While Nils Frahm, Belgian based producer and composer presented his show Music for Sydney. This world premiere featured Zambian-born singer, poet and visual artist Sampa The Great who debut her breathtaking show, “An Afro Future”.
STILL TO COME
Following on from two years of Covid Cancellations, the 2022 Sydney Vivid Music program has sprung back with force. 2022 covers more ground than ever before. It encompasses over 150 gigs in a heartful attempt to reinvigorate the city’s live music scene.
This includes, but is not limited to show performances at the Hyde Park Barracks, the Calyx in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Luna Park, Parliament House, Carriageworks, Cell Block Theatre, the National Art School, and of course the Vivid Live contemporary music program at the Sydney Opera House.
Below, we have selected our top picks for shows still to come. You can check out the complete event line up on the Official Vivid Web Site.
SOUND ON SOUND
THE SYDNEY VIVID SUPPER CLUB
From 9.30pm ‘til late on Friday and Saturday nights during the festival, Mary’s Underground transforms into an intimate cabaret club. With a program of acclaimed headliners alongside top-flight jazz, cabaret, burlesque and comedy acts, it’s the perfect way to end a night out at Vivid. Check out the full line up here.
The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARCIA
Hear Marcia Hines’s soul sing like never before in this exhilarating World Premiere. This comes by way of live gospel experience: The Gospel According to Marcia. In an intimate live concert, Marcia’s incomparable voice will fill St Stephen’s Uniting Church alongside a 12-member choir and live band.
Thanks for tuning in to our Vivid coverage. We hope you have a wonderful festival experience!
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