Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Vivid Sydney - Fire & Water

Vivid Sydney was the inaugural festival of music, light and ideas which ran from 26 May through until 14 June around Sydney Cove, The Rocks and Millers Point - the historic heart of the city.

Thomas McKinnon - 20 years; Fingal Lanahan - 7 years; Brendan Walsh - life; Eammon Connolly - 10 years; Milo O'Shea - life ... ... ... ...

The lilted roll-call echoed around the hushed Cove: the names of many of the 210 convicts from The Three Bees were accompanied by Aboriginal smoking ceremonies, the clinking of message sticks and the drone of the didge. These dazed members of the hoi poloi, uprooted and transplanted to this desperate place.

Life - life - life - life ...


Campbell's Cove in The Rocks resounded to a theatrical reenactment of the conflagration and subsequent sinking of the convict ship The Three Bees back in 1814 as it lay at anchor off what is now Dawes Point. With small hand-made lanterns floating in the inky waters of the Cove, a sardined-audience watched mesmerised as the drama unfolded before them - the ever changing projection on the Opera House sails creating a magical back-drop, and ferries plying their usual Saturday night trade.


Dramatically-enhanced, the narrative included said cabin boy, his bully of a Captain, hooded helpers-of-death, the Kings-own Red Coats and a computer orchestra glowing red on the nearby pier.

Accompanied by the harbingers of death and illuminated by fiery flame sticks, the hapless cabin boy was led along the Cove and dumped into a row boat for the journey out to the isle of the dead whilst the eeirie convict ship rose slowly from the murky depths, mast askew and canvas in tatters.


The performance featured music performed live by Coda, floating inflatables from Earth and artists from Stalker, Legs on the Wall, Theatre Kantanka, PACT and Jannawi Dance Theatre. The music was a cross between Philip Glass and a Red Centre corroboree. The final conflagration was fascinating and strangely affecting.


This spectacle is THE inspired piece of programming of the entire Festival - it brought our past to life; would that we had more like this. Done with a fine sense of drama (but drop the Avon calling ring tone, please) and with a reverence for those involved, there could be such a recreation around The Rocks and Millers Point each June. But please, whatever you do: don't dumb it down.

We don't have a lot of colonial history, so what we do have, please treat with respect.

19 comments:

Per Stromsjo said...

If this isn't a festival I don't know what is. Lots of drama in these shots. If I'd have to pick one it'd be #5.

Words and photos... well done.

Ann said...

You were right up close. I was over at the Opera House and just saw a tiny little thing in the distance. Great shots.

Del said...

Some great shots, as usual.

The main shot is definitely my favourite.

That is the chicken said...

Wow! How did you get such great shots?! Were you on one of the boats?

brattcat said...

These are simply stunning. Thank you for stamping our passport to this festival and to the history it commemorates.

J Bar said...

Brilliant shots Julie. I watched it on Sunday night but my photographic efforts were nowhere near as good as yours.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Ann said...

Tripod, yes? What setting did you use?

Julie said...

Nope, all hand held with elbows firmly wedged on a railing.

I think I set the ISO to 100 and the WB to cloudy. Then I yanked the aperture as open as I could which was either F4 or F4.5 from memory. I suspect I was on max zoom for just about everything which is 259mm. So that just left s/s for me to contend with. I think it varied between 1/20 and 1/40 all evening. I had many shots that were very dark and had to judge when there might have been sufficient lighting. I knew when the canon balls exploded that I would be okay so that was probably a 1/49, whereas the boy leaning over the boat was probably a 1/20.

It was a juggle all night ...

Tash said...

Spectacular and quite moving. Amazing photographs, Julie. I liked your caution re respecting history.

Julie said...

ISO to 800 ... sorry

AB said...

These dazed members of the hoi poloi, uprooted and transplanted to this desperate place.

If they had only known that they were going to culturally sophisticated Sydney!

Joan Elizabeth said...

Wow, looks like an interesting night ... and I've seen it all without having to face the crowds. Thanks.

Julie said...

Yes, the crowds were off-putting! What is it with people with strollers who think they have a RIGHT to shove them into my shins and expect me to get out of their way ... grrr ...

AB: Australians have a middle-sized chip on their shoulder about our dearth of culture and how the Europeans think we are hicks from the backwoods.

Lois said...

Amazing pictures Julie and your narrative made me feel as though I was right there!

B Squared said...

Quite an event. Thanks for sharing.

AB said...

Not so many sheep farms in down town Sydney?

Coşkun said...

Hi Julie,
İt is amazing pictures thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your comment about my portrait.

Julie said...

AB: *grin*

Leif Hagen said...

Looks like everything is going up in smoke (and fire.) Interesting festival like none I've witnessed before. Regards