Arts / It’s time to light up the Triangle again

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The suffragette illumination… to be re-imagined at Parliament House.

CANBERRA is about to light up again with the annual Enlighten Festival running through March 1-11, and most of our national institutions are beavering away to produce spectacular illuminations that will show their buildings in, well, a new light.

Quick off the mark with a free event is the National Gallery with “Fields of Love”, an immersive after-hours event centring on the animated illumination by contemporary Australian artist Tony Albert of the Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku Yalanji peoples. Albert’s work “I Am Visible” will be projected onto the façade of the NGA.

Electric Fields from SA will also “light up” the gallery’s outdoor stage with new music by composer Michael Ross and vocals by Zaachariaha Fielding.

Not far behind is the Department of Parliamentary Services at Parliament House, which is devising a new illumination, a re-imagining of an illumination that commemorated the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in SA. The new one will include portraits, including the recently unveiled painting of indigenous MP Linda Burney, of the “first” women of the Australian Parliament, taken from the Historic Memorials Collection.

With what it proudly says is the best view in Canberra, the executive chef at the members’ and guests’ dining room in Parliament House, David Learmonth, has dreamt up a patriotic, six-course, degustation feast for one night only.

Surely only a hatted and Michelin star chef such as Learmonth could dream up some of the Aussie gourmet offerings he’s pairing with wines from Lake George and Lerida wineries, involving macadamia custard, Murray cod, finger lime, wattle-seed buttermilk, prickly pear, the Parliamentary Librarian’s gin and, his favourite, Gooda Creek mushrooms from Murrumbateman.

Chef David Learmonth, centre, and the owners of Lerida Winery, Andrew McFadzean and Lake George Winery, Sarah McDougall. Photo: Auspic

“Australia has a lot of good ingredients in both vegetables and protein,” he tells us.

Meantime, down the hill at Questacon is “The Poet’s Guide to Science”, described by Inspiring Australia ACT as a “unique and innovative cross-disciplinary event”.

It’s a work of fiction, but weaves in cameos from real, working scientists talking about controversial areas of science – “engaging, hilarious and thought-provoking,” they’re saying.

The show grew out of discussions between laser physicist Dr Phil Dooley, director/writer Michele Conyngham and actor Patrick Davies Trumper, and takes on scientific dilemmas that ordinary Australians face.

Actor Patrick Davies Trumper, left, and laser physicist Dr Phil Dooley in Questacon’s “The Poet’s Guide to Science”.

Briefly, Cy (Trumper) visits his GP (Dooley) hoping for a cure for his loss of faith in science. The doctor isn’t interested, but soon the two embark on a journey to discover the truth, where the characters in the play meet real scientists and discuss controversies around GM foods, vaccines and climate change.

And the real scientists? At Questacon, they’ll include chair of Water Science at the University of Canberra, Prof Ross Thompson and Dr Rebecca Colvin from the ANU College of Health and Medicine.

All the while, the night noodle markets will become the outdoor auditorium from which the Illuminations around the Parliamentary Triangle can be viewed – light and food together.

“Fields of Love”, NGA, 5-9pm, March 1, free entry.

Parliament House Chef’s Degustation, 7pm, Saturday, March 9, bookings to

“The Poet’s Guide to Science”, Japan Theatre, Questacon, March 7-9, bookings to

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Helen Musa
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