People power lit up Fed Square with the 2013 The Light in Winter, which focused on the power of the voice. Each night at dusk, Melbourne choirs, whose repertoires will include an anthem specially commissioned by Melbourne singer/composer Lou Bennett, used the power of their voices to ignite the hug light sculpture, Helix Tree. The program also included an extended Solstice Weekend of interactive light projects, artist workshops and the colourful Solstice Celebration. There was a series of forums each week discussing the interconnecting themes of power, voice and democracy. The forum chaired by Artistic Directed Robyn Archer was conducted with a live cross to the National Press Club in Canberra.
Rising up from the centre of Federation Square was Helix Tree – a sculpture of steel and light by renowned lighting designer Bruce Ramus. Inspired by the naturally occurring shape of the helix, the sculpture was constructed from 21 curved steel beams fitted with hundreds of LED lights. Like branches of a tree, the beams spiraled 13 metres high into the sky from a central trunk. The Helix Tree used sound-responsive technology that switched on a vivid light displays when the voices of Melbourne sung at its base.
The 2012 program was inspired by the National Year of the Reading and celebrated the enlightenment that reading sheds on our lives. Literary texts, oral traditions, calligraphy, music, body art and braille were viewed in a new light, along with imaginative light sculptures, and surprising collaborations from top international and local artists, designers and architects. After exhibiting around the world, Melbourne design group ENESS created A Tilt of Light. In collaboration with Electrolight, Fed Square brought Australian designers and creatives, Arkit+, Di Mase Architects, The fortynine studio, SJB Urban, MUSK Architecture and HASSELL to the Square for Shed Light - a series of illuminated light shelters and cozy reading nooks. Australian artist, Jordana Maisie’s UFO shaped sculpture, Close Encounters was bright beacon for the celebration of poetry, both celebrated and known, and Rob Caslick created an immersive experience in cBraille – a lighting exhibition for people who are blind. Indian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous and deaf communities also gathered for Reading the Body to explore other forms of reading via hands, bodies and symbols.
Literature Versus Traffic
Fed Square commissioned an ambitious work from renowned Spanish collective, Luzinterruptus. Using light as their raw material and the dark as their canvas, the anonymous pair seized Fed Square with an installation 10,000 illuminated re-claimed books, Literature Versus Traffic. Each day the installation grew and finally spilled out onto Flinders Street – literally stopping traffic!
The 2011 program comprised 160 events, forums, workshops, light installations and community celebrations. Drawing inspiration from one of humanities greatest allies and respected enemies – fire; it included a major commission by Bruce Ramus, an Indigenous campfire program, contributions from 20 multicultural groups and Illuminated by Fire – a stunning collection of works by bushfire-affected communities. The Solstice Celebration featured special collaborations between the Indigenous community and participants from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.
At the heart of The Light in Winter was Bruce Ramus’ sculpture Light Hearts - a communal art piece that evolved throughout the month with beautiful handmade lanterns, yarn bombing, projections and performances. The 13m-high pyramid provided a focal point for the community, with the opportunity for people of all ages to contribute to the work.
In 2010 The Light In Winter featured more than 60 program elements including a major international commission, the Solstice Celebration, forums, talks, exhibitions and concerts. More than 400 artists, creative and technical and practitioners were active throughout the program and fifteen communities from diverse cultural backgrounds were represented in a range of important events and activities. As part of The Gift of Light the program included a retrospective of previous community/artist light works, with communities finding new ways to collaborate with artists and with each other.
In 2010 Fed Square commissioned Rafael Lozano-Hemmer to produce a new work called Solar Equation for The Light in Winter. This giant maquette of the sun became an extraordinary beacon in the heart of Melbourne, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors into the Square to admire its eerie glow and to take control of the installation using a free iPhone application. The work is set to travel through a range of countries around the world including the LUMIERE Festival in Durham, UK.
Major Partner: City of Melbourne
The Light in Winter featured a variety of work and activities from global leaders in the field of illumination-based art, locally-based artists and thirteen multicultural communities, Fed Square businesses including Kirra Galleries and ACMI, and leading cultural and civic commentators. The program also featured the Australian premiere of VOLUME by United Visual Artists.
VOLUME was a field of luminous, sound-emitting columns that respond to visitors’ movements to create an immersive, constantly shifting visual and musical experience. A collaboration between UK-based United Visual Artists and Neil Davidge and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, the installation consisted of 47 columns of light, each with their own audio output. VOLUME was originally commissioned by the V&A London and its month-long residence at Fed Square represented the company’s debut in Australia. Over 32 days, over 58,000 people personally interacted with this incredible work.
The Light in Winter took a major leap in 2008 with nine multicultural communities working with local artists to produce light installations for The Gift of Light and a major commission by international artist and film maker, Srinivas Krishna.
When The Gods Came Down To Earth
Presented on Fed Square’s old Big Screen, When The Gods Came Down To Earth invited visitors to contemplate the beauty of sacred images of Hindu Gods, the meaning of their ritual function and the power of their magical aura.
The Light in Winter began as a pilot project in 2007 with the idea of bringing Melbourne’s diverse multicultural communities and artists together to create light installations and events to warm the seasonally chilled heart of the city. Six communities took part in this inaugural event, which included the Indigenous campfire, Leempeeyt Weeyn’ – a work that has become a cornerstone of the program.