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Illuminate to shed fresh light on Adelaide in 2023

Illuminate Adelaide will return this winter with a new night-time digital art trail through the Botanic Garden, a pavilion full of mind-bending interactive experiences in Victoria Square, free city-wide works by artists including celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow, and a music line-up featuring Yothu Yindi.

Apr 19, 2023, updated Apr 19, 2023
Architects of Air will bring their inflatable sculpture 'Arborialis' to Rymill Park / Murlawirrapurka for the 2023 Illuminate Adelaide festival. Photo: Jane Barlow

Architects of Air will bring their inflatable sculpture 'Arborialis' to Rymill Park / Murlawirrapurka for the 2023 Illuminate Adelaide festival. Photo: Jane Barlow

In unveiling the program for the June 28 – July 30 festival, co-founders and creative directors Lee Cumberlidge and Rachael Azzopardi said it would transform Adelaide’s winter nights with “experiences, installations and performances showcasing the very best examples of the convergence of art and technology our city and the world has to offer”.

After a challenging debut in 2021 amid pandemic restrictions and a spate of wild weather, Illuminate’s 2022 program drew 1.2 million attendances and generated the highest-ever spending in the Adelaide CBD for the month of July. One of the most popular events was Canadian multi-media company Moment Factory’s Light Cycles, a night-time experience incorporating lighting effects, lasers and projections to shed fresh light on the surrounding natural environment.

For 2023, Moment Factory is developing Resonate, a new 1.7km trail that will begin at the Botanic Garden’s North Terrace entrance, take in different parts of the grounds – including the Bicentennial Conservatory – and feature six new installations.

“The installations are bigger and more immersive,” says Azzopardi. “It’s gone up to the next level of really engaging with people emotionally as well.”

Moment Factory will present Mirror Mirror in the Illuminate Pavilion. Photo supplied

Moment Factory – Illuminate’s 2023 Luminary Artists in Residence – will also present Mirror Mirror in the Illuminate Pavilion, the purpose-built festival space which was installed on Rundle Road to host Istanbul-based Ouchhh Studio’s Wisdom of AI Light in 2022 but will this year be based in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga.

Cumberlidge and Azzopardi describe Mirror Mirror as a “choose-your-own-adventure” experience which visitors are invited to enter through one of three doors. They then move through different rooms where cutting-edge technology and multimedia has been used to create “installations that turn memories into poems and words into dazzling light displays, along with an expansive hall of mirrors and a ‘river of consciousness’ projection which ripples and reacts to each visitor’s movements”.

Adelaide Zoo’s after-date experience Light Creatures will return, with new lanterns and works including an interactive projection in the heritage-listed rotunda, while UK-based Architects of Air – who presented a giant walk-through inflatable sculpture in the RCC hub at the University of Adelaide in 2020 ­– will set up new luminarium Arborialis in Rymill Park / Murlawirrapurka opposite The Stag hotel.

“We’re bringing a brand new labyrinth of colour and light to Adelaide… it’s going to be a pretty amazing tunnel of light to explore,” Azzopardi says of Arborialis, which spans around 1000sqm and is described by Architects of Air as an immersive arboreal world of tree-like forms and leaf motifs.

A centrepiece of Illuminate Adelaide’s music program will be a one-off performance at Hindley Street Music Hall by Yothu Yindi which marks that band’s 30th anniversary and also coincides with NAIDOC Week.

For the second year running, Illuminate will incorporate experimental electronic music event Unsound Adelaide, with a new line-up of Australian and international artists including UK duo Space Afrika and American rapper bbymutha performing at the Dom Polski Centre and an Unsound club program at The Lab. Other music highlights include an audio-visual show by American music producer Oneohtrix Point Never and a concert by English electronic musician Tourist, and the genre-defying series KLASSIK Underground, which blends experimental classical music and live visuals.

KLASSIK Underground will be back with new concerts in 2023. Photo: Jack Fenby

The free City Lights program will this year showcase more than 40 new installations and artworks in open spaces, laneways and street-fronts in the north, east and west precincts of the CBD across 17 days. Among them will be Into the Light, a projected work on the façade of Government House that is being created in a collaboration between local filmmaker Shalom Almond and Electric Canvas and will showcase leading South Australian women from history to the present.

Another key drawcard in City Lights will be projections on six different East End buildings of works by chef and artist Poh Ling Yeow from her signature series “The Girl”, with Yeow also presenting an exhibition of her work at Light Adl.

Tasmanian artist Amanda Parer’s giant inflatable artwork Man will take up residence in the middle of Light Square / Wauwi, while Sydney-based Amigo & Amigo’s Trumpet Flowers will create a floral symphony in Rundle Mall’s Gawler Place, and French company Groupe Laps’s interactive playground Lap Games will feature giant versions of children’s games like Connect Four on the University of Adelaide’s forecourt and lawns.

Artist Amanda Parer’s artwork Man is coming to Adelaide. Photo: Rami Saarikorpi

Illuminate Adelaide has commissioned South Australia’s Restless Dance Theatre to produce Shifting Perspectives, a “mesmerising and immersive study of light and darkness, shape and movement, perception and reality”. Created in collaboration with light artist Matt Adey, the part-dance performance, part-installation work will have its world premiere at the Queen’s Theatre during the festival.

Illuminate’s pop-up bar and food hub, Base Camp, is being relocated to Rundle Park / Kadlitpina, next to the Arborialis luminarium and near the North Terrace entrance to the Botanic Garden light trail. The family-friendly space has been redesigned since last year, with Cumberlidge and Azzopardi promising a “magical atmosphere” including a firepit and music.

The Illuminate Adelaide co-founders, who have travelled overseas to scope out artists for 2023 and future events, are clearly buoyed by the public response to the festival and excited to now promote it more actively to interstate audiences.

“We feel we’ve got off to a good start with the attendances we’ve had in year one and two, and now it’s great because we can invite interstate audiences to come and see Adelaide really alive as it is at other times of the year, during other festivals,” Cumberlidge says. “What we’re trying to achieve, under one umbrella, is a total activation of the city.”

Illuminate Adelaide will run from June 28 until July 30, with the full program now online.

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