Canberra switches on for Enlighten

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Joan Ross’ “Collector’s Paradise” on the NGA.

CANBERRA lit up last night (February 25), a day ahead of the official launch of Enlighten 2021 this evening at 7.50pm, when the winner of ActewAGL’s “Switch On” promotion gets to flick the switch on one of the ACT’s most popular events.

Last night (February 25), media was treated to a tour of the Parliamentary Triangle to watch the facades of Parliament House, the National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, Museum of Australian Democracy, National Gallery of Australia and Questacon spring to life with visual imagery facilitated by electric canvas and animation/sound artist, Josh Raymond.

International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, at the National Library.

First up and inspired by the United Nation’s International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, was the National Library’s exterior, which explored Australians’ love of fruit, from the native quandong to the grape and peach, using artist Ellis Rowan’s art, heritage photos and old advertising posters, brought to life by falling leaves, bubbles and the sounds of agriculture.

Matthew Aberline and Maurice Goldberg’s ‘Live for Love’.

Next stop, with a passing glance at Questacon, was through the gateway “Live for Love”, a celebration of love for all people, all ages, all races and all sexualities, created by former Canberra theatre identity Matthew Aberline and his creative partner Maurice Goldberg, who took “CityNews” on a walk through their giant inflatable structure, pointing out the symbolism that goes back to the 1940s when homosexuals were obliged to display a triangle armband. This artwork was first created for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to celebrate its 40th birthday, but has been seen as far afield as New York.

Matthew Aberline and Maurice Goldberg’s “Live for Love”.

Passing by Geoff Filmer’s extraordinary pond full of shimmering hand-painted “fish”, which move with the wind, we arrived at the Museum of Australian Democracy, where a series of six illuminations on Old Parliament House presented poems, artworks, messages taken from the artworks created in King’s Hall by MoAD visitors, including a castle made of hand-written cards and a protest installation made from second-hand toys.

Resurgent view of Weereewa/Lake George, as drawn by Joseph Lycett.

The final stop, with a quick sideways glance at the National Portrait Gallery, was the National Gallery of Australia, where video artist Joan Ross was showing off “Collector’s Paradise”, her elaborate recreation of a “museum” where a fluorescent moth with flapping wings unleashes chaos, specimens escape and the museum tumbles down, only to be replaced by a resurgent Weereewa/Lake George, as drawn by colonial artist and forger Joseph Lycett in 1825.

This was a sophisticated work in which the fabricated landscape gave us a new view of what museums and galleries could be doing.

“Enlighten” starts from today, February 26 to March 8, with projections on buildings in the Parliamentary Triangle, “Lights! Canberra! Action!” in the Senate Rose Gardens on March 5, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular from March 6 to 14, Symphony in the Park on March 7, and Canberra’s 107th birthday on March 8. Bookings and information here.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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