Thursday, June 17, 2010


The Vivid Sydney Festival, a new annual event for the city, is a celebration of light and music that features a new guest curator every year.  Last year, the inaugural festival boasted godfather of ambient music Brian Eno; this year, it's husband and wife team, Lou Reed (what a step down) and Laurie Anderson.  Throughout the month of music performances and art installations, major buildings in the city are splashed with rotating shades and shapes of light, and the white sails of the iconic Opera House are used as a blank canvas for projecting storeys-tall images.

On Saturday, I took my camera to Campbell's Cove to shoot a free performance on the harbour called "Fire Water," a cross-cultural combination of Aboriginal smoke ceremony and Bollywood-inspired dance interpreting the wreck of the Sydney Cove.  In 1797, the merchant ship sailed from Calcutta and sank off the coast of Tasmania.  The performance culminated with the arrival in the cove of a ghostly tall ship so fully rigged with ethereal blue and magenta lights as to seem constructed of light itself.

Festivities continued around the corner in The Rocks, the old historical part of Sydney, with the open-air night markets.  Beneath the undulating tent peaks I strolled between stalls selling smooth wooden bowls of redgum and coolibah, hip fashion and jewellery from Paris, tapered candles in pinks and oranges, framed photographs and rich-smelling specialty chocolates.  At the end of the stalls, a flamenco performance broke out.

A troupe from the local dance school El Duende Flamenco, led by a handsome Chinese woman in a fuschia frock and overseen by a Spanish matron, tapped, clapped and twirled to live flamenco guitar.  Half a dozen women in full-length frilled dresses with fans and castanets spun, flickered and clacked.  A man in a round, broad-rimmed hat and cumberbund clicked his heels, and a little girl of nine or ten stole the show when she fanned her dress and pleated her fan in a flamboyant solo.

The explosion of colours in the dresses and the lights were a photographer's candy store.  Check out some of my shots.


Unknown said...

Dammit. I shoulda been there. Nice shots.

MilazzoMan said...

Good to see you training your camera and (digital) pencil & paper on SYD. Good article.

And here's a challenge : how about you being the first travel writer in the 21st Century to create an article withOUT using the word "iconic"? You only used it once, and it was for a creation that is truly emblematic of what a human mind (with pencil and paper) can dream up, so thou art forgiven, it qualifies.

Other writers and poseur-journos splash "iconic" about like tomato sauce in a drunkard's pie-shop, and it's usually followed by the name of some withered actor or wrinkled fashionista whose true contribution to society is in precise inverse proportion to their egos.

(Hmm.. a pie with tomato sauce. I guess that passes for "iconic" in our Land of Oz...)

Not that I want, for a single moment, to make you self-conscious about over-using particular words that offend my delicate sensibilities. Next episode : the word "amazing"...

PS. What's a cumberbund? A cummerbund for the cumbersome? Sorry, now I am being a SmartA.

G. Wayne Meaney said...

Bruce, that response has left me for dead.

The very funny thing about my choice of the word "iconic" is that when I wrote it I was conscious of precisely what you mean because I knew it would have this effect on another friend of mine (the other commentarian).

The cumberbund! Hats off.


MilazzoMan said...

I don't mind falling into a trap set for another! At least it gave me a chance to loose-off a few rounds from my elephant gun on one of my favourite targets (hackneyed words, not you!).

I see from the dictionary that "cummerbund" has Hindi and Persian roots. I always assumed it was German. ("Der Kummberbund Wunderkind mit der grossen Blunderbuss"....? Sounds like an opera from the pen of Herman Goering).

Auf wiedersehen!

MilazzoMan said...

The thought suddenly struck me that another Great Sin that travel-writers can commit is to capture and portray foreign accents in an asinine manner.

I recently started reading "War and Peace", alas not in the original Russian, but in an Englishman's translation. If his oafish mimicry of one character's German accent is inducing a degree of restiveness by page 58, imagine how warmly I will be feeling towards him by page 1538.

Somezink makes me sink I vill be villing to tvist his bowler-hatted shkull so hard it vill shqueek so loud zay vill hear it in Moscow.