Daily Archives: 28 May 2011


On Friday night we caught the bus to Circular Quay for the start of Vivid. To tell the truth, I’ve had only the vaguest idea of what Vivid is until now. Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed have featured in past years, and I’ve heard that the Opera house has been lit spectacularly. I’ve meant to have a look, but never managed the trip to town. I’m not sure I’ve completely grasped the concept yet, but it’s at least partly a festival of light-related art.

The animated illuminations of the Opera House are wonderful. The Customs House, if anything, is even more wonderful. For gee-whiz technical brilliance and stuff you can’t take your eyes off, they’d both be hard to beat. There’s a reason so many people were lugging proper cameras with tripods around the Quay area. I won’t embarrass myself by uploading any of what I managed to capture on my iPhone. Vivid have a photostream on Flickr, and here’s someone else’s take on Customs House from You Tube:

Apart from the two big items, there are more than 40 ‘light sculptures‘ scattered around the Quay and the Rocks. Number 23, Social Firefly, was the big drawcard for us. Created by Jason McDermott, Liam Ryan & Frank Maguire, the second of whom is one of my two brilliant sons, it’s a medium sized fig tree near the MCA that’s full of gizmos. Here’s a phone shot of one gizmo in captivity:

The tails of these gizmos (at the bottom of the one in the photo) light up firefly green when light shines on them, and they also move in response to light. So a beam of light from, say, the torch tethered to the tree, will make one of the ‘fireflies’ light up, and set it swinging back and forth. When its light hits another, that one is animated in turn, and soon the whole tree is full of dancing green lights. It’s not the only interactive sculpture, and it’s certainly not the easiest to photograph or film (as the Art Student and I demonstrated to our own satisfaction), but it’s fascinating, and gets the paternal pride cells swelling

So there you are, that’s a glimpse of this Vivid thing that fills the weeks between the Writers’ Festival and the Film Festival in Sydney.

Bill Hunter

‘It seems everyone in Australia wanted to remember Bill Hunter this week,’ said Julie Rigg on the Movie Show yesterday. Well, for what it’s worth, here’s my 10 second encounter with him.

It was interval at the Nimrod Theatre, now the Stables, roughly 40 years ago. I was in my mid 20s, a nerd before the word – awkward, shy, and wretchedly lonely. (How glad I am not to be still in my mid 20s!) Enter Bill Hunter and two actor friends, all a little rowdy and more than a little tiddly. One of the trio was a reasonably well-known sexy comic actress. Somehow or other she and I found ourselves inclose proximity at the foot of the stairs leading up to the performance space. Seizing the moment for what was no doubt intended as a bit of good natured teasing, she turned her large mascara’d eyes on me and saying something like, ‘Hi there,’ moved very close, brushing against me with her fur coat in a parody of screen flirtation. I was mortified. And cornered. And it must have shown. She moved even closer. At that point Bill Hunter made me a fan for life by intervening. He took her by the arm. ‘Come on, Fifi,’ he said. ‘Leave him alone. You’ve had a few too many.” [He didn’t actually call her Fifi, because that’s not her real name.] And he led her firmly if a little unsteadily out into the night, leaving me with a story to tell and no harm done.