Features

White night, amazing night

February 26, 2014

The second iteration of White Night was staged on Saturday 22 February with more than half a million people walking Melbourne’s streets and laneways, partaking of and participating in a virtual feast of cultural events and artistic happenings.
Text and Images: Jan Henderson

What a night, and day. White Night Melbourne 2014 was an inspired and energising event that enveloped a city and delighted the people that attended. The second iteration of White Night was staged on Saturday 22 February with more than half a million people walking Melbourne’s streets and laneways, partaking of and participating in a virtual feast of cultural events and artistic happenings. The vibe was happy and relaxed as families, the young and the old mixed together to enjoy the spectacles.

White Night on Princes Bridge

White Night on Princes Bridge

With a larger geographical footprint this year, the light shows, installations, music and theatre transformed the inner city like no other event. There was so much to see that 12 hours was never going to be enough time to experience all that was on offer, so, cherry-picking destinations was the way to go. En route, the delight of finding small installations and intimate happenings made the journey a true voyage of discovery.

Bodies of art at the Tattooed City precinct

Bodies of art at the Tattooed City precinct

Flinders Street Railway Station and the stately buildings that line Flinders Street bedazzled the crowds with multicoloured projections that lit up the façades, while faces projected onto trees along the Yarra River became ghostly apparitions shimmering in the night. At the National Gallery of Victoria the Tattooed City projection encompassed the full side of the building’s St Kilda Road façade and did not disappoint. Curated by Andrew Walsh, the creative director of White Night, the projection consisted of images of Melburnians, both men and women, whose bodies were adorned with tattooed art of imperial proportions.

A collage of tattoo art projected on the facade of the National Gallery of Victoria

A collage of tattoo art projected on the facade of the National Gallery of Victoria

In the Town Hall a magical choral installation entitled Voices charmed the crowds. In the darkened auditorium, projections of faces of members of the renowned children’s choir, Gondwana Voices, were projected onto large gauze sheets hung from the ceiling. The visions were accompanied by song and appeared and disappeared until, in the final minutes of the program, the full complement of images and voices climaxed together in a resonating crescendo for the eye and ear. This interactive event allowed the visitor to walk around the diorama and, by experiencing the sights and sounds of the virtual choir, become a part of it. Developed by Andrew Walsh and the artistic director of Gondwana Voices, Lyn Williams, the idea was grand and the reality simply breathtaking.

Faces from the choral installation Voices

Faces from the choral installation Voices

Rachmaninoff plays live! The reality lived up to the hype with the great composer and pianist coming ‘back to life’ for this one evening. A lone, 1920s Mason and Hamlin grand reproducing piano took centre stage at Hamer Hall and reproduced the brilliant sounds that had been recorded by the artist. So, although he was not actually sitting at the piano, the extraordinary talent of Rachmaninoff was alive and well. Between each piece, collector and restorer Rick Alabaster delighted the crowd with stories of the artist and insights into the works played.

A lone piano on the stage of Hamer Hall plays Rachmaninoff 'live'

A lone piano on the stage of Hamer Hall plays Rachmaninoff ‘live’

There were so many events happening simultaneously at RMIT, it was inspiring and just a little overwhelming. Music, video installations, exhibitions and a variety of lectures and talks were held throughout the night and enjoyed by crowds that grew in size as the night progressed.

For all Prince lovers, Purple Rain was a visual bath of light and sound. The enigmatic singer’s voice reverberated around the RMIT Alumni courtyard as umbrella-holding revellers were cocooned by purple light. The interactive installation was one of the highlights of the Paris Nuit Blanche and was certainly a star attraction at Melbourne’s White Night.

Light projections along Flinders Street

Light projections along Flinders Street

Swimming in the pool will never be the same after viewing the synchronised swimming performances at the City Baths. Creating a real crowd pleaser, the 30 participants executed solo and team routines throughout the evening, which showcased their talent, grace and agility in the water.

All in all, White Night Melbourne was a grand affair and a huge success. We look forward to the next instalment in 2015 when Melburnians and visitors alike take to the streets to enjoy another White Night.

Original images of Tattooed City, courtesy of Nicole Reed

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