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Painting the city

Date

By Fleta Page

Electric Canvas holds a dress rehearsal of Enlighten's popular architectural projections.

Electric Canvas holds a dress rehearsal of Enlighten's popular architectural projections. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra institutions will be seen in a new light for the next nine days, as buildings across the parliamentary triangle get a temporary makeover.

Starting tonight, the works of five local artists will be projected onto some of Canberra’s iconic attractions for the nine day Enlighten Festival.

While the architectural projections – which can be seen from 8pm until 11pm, or 1am on Friday and Saturday night - are the main attraction, there will be 52 after-hours events to entertain nocturnal visitors to the area, most of them free.

Peter Milne from the Electric Canvas  holds a dress rehearsal of Enlighten's popular architectural projections.

Peter Milne from the Electric Canvas holds a dress rehearsal of Enlighten's popular architectural projections. Photo: Melissa Adams

The National Library, Old Parliament House, the National Portrait Gallery and Questacon will feature varied projections from local artists Betty Holdsworth, David Sequeira, Eleanor Gates-Stuart, Martin Ollman and graffiti artist Houl.

Each artist has spent months working with company Electric Canvas to design projections which take into account the different architectural features of each building.

Rather than looking at the buildings as a two dimensional shape for their work, the artists have had to account for columns, recesses and other features which affect the depth of the light projection in their designs.

Old Parliament House, Canberra.

Old Parliament House, Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

“The path we’ve taken them along is to realise their vision in a sculptural form, rather than see this building as a big white screen,” projection director Peter Milne said.

“You’ve got to paint your artwork into the architecture – you’ve got to dissect, think in terms of the architectural form, you’ve got to think structurally, think in terms of sculpture, that’s the challenge for them and for us, and it’s a really rewarding process.”

The National Gallery will feature projected art from the Toulouse-Lautrec collection, with the visiting exhibition also opening at night during the festival.

Old Parliament House, Canberra.

Old Parliament House, Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

Now in its third year, the Enlighten festival will lead celebrations into Canberra’s birthday weekend, and is expected to attract plenty of tourists to the city.

“[It’s] based around our national institutions, using the beautiful façades for the base – but then getting involvement from all the national institutions, so we can show Canberra in a whole new light,” Neale Guthrie, General Manager of Events ACT, said.

But the events during the festival won’t be limited to where the projections are, with tours of rare underground rock formations at Parliament House, jazz in the Royal Australian Mint’s high-security basement or after hours tours of the zoo or botanic gardens just some of the other attractions. 

Peter Milne from the Electric Canvas.

Peter Milne from the Electric Canvas. Photo: Melissa Adams

l will lead celebrations into Canberra’s birthday weekend.

“[It’s] based around our national institutions, using the beautiful facades for the base – but then getting involvement from all the national institutions, so we can show Canberra in a whole new light,’’ Mr Guthrie said.

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