The Electric Canvas projects original artworks onto Questacon during Enlighten Canberra 2013.

The Electric Canvas projects original artworks onto Questacon during Enlighten Canberra 2013.

Enlighten 2014. February28- March8. Various locations and times,  enlightencanberra.com for more information and bookings.

Enlighten, says its creative producer, Gemma Pepper, ‘‘is all about experiencing Canberra in a completely new way.’’

Twelve museums, galleries and national institutions will host 50 events in the fourth Enlighten.

Paul McDermott,  Enlighten performer.

Paul McDermott, Enlighten performer. Photo: Kevin Godfrey

Pepper says it’s a great opportunity to explore these institutions after hours and experience them in an unusual way, with a range of performances, displays, tours and events – many of which are free.

One of the most striking ways in which the institutions can be viewed differently is the use of architectural projections at night, transforming the buildings of the Parliamentary Triangle from 8pm to midnight on February 28 and March 1.

 Visitors will be able to use The Electric Canvas’ Fingerprint program to add a touch of colour to the walls of Questacon and view the playful animations created by the Academy of Interactive Entertainment  on the outside of the National Portrait Gallery using The Electric Canvas.

Contemporary artists will also use The Electric Canvas to decorate the walls of Parliament House, Old Parliament House and the National Library of Australia, while the National Gallery of Australia will have golden treasures and ancient artefacts from its Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru exhibition projected across its western facade.

But the action isn’t confined to the Parliamentary Triangle. 

‘‘This year is the 30th anniversary of the $1  coin and the Mint was keen to celebrate this,’’ Pepper says.

One of the uses of the new coin was as a donation to buskers,  so the two will combine in Busking in the Basement with former Doug Anthony All Star Paul McDermott – himself a one-time Canberra busker –  performing with local band No Hausfrau on Friday, March 7. Entry will be considerably  more than a dollar, though: $40 adults, $35 concessions, $30 children (booked online at the website: prices are higher at the door).

‘‘The basement in the Mint is somewhere no one gets to go to, normally – it’s a really different experience of what the Mint is.’’

For four nights only the Australian National Botanic Gardens will bring two Australian landscapes to life: the Rainforest Gully and the Red Centre Garden.

Both will be specially lit to bring out their nocturnal beauty and there will also be drinks and dessert as part of the experience. The Gardens’ Rainforest to Desert evening experience takes place on February 28, March 1, March 8 and March 9, with  two sessions held each evening, at 7.30pm and 8pm.

Prebooked tickets are $45 a person and can be bought online at anbg.gov.au/gardens

 As well as the events already discussed, some highlights are listed  at right,  but we still couldn’t fit them all in: there’s even more happening in Enlighten 2014 to discover.

 

 ENLIGHTEN HIGHLIGHTS

Switched on:  A David Sequeiras work illuminates the National Portrait Gallery during Enlighten Canberra 2013; Enlighten performer Charles Bradley.

  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28

 Late-Night Opening: The institutions in the Parliamentary Triangle area – Parliament House, Old Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Archives of Australia – will be open late with  exhibitions and activities  during  the festival. See website for  events and opening and closing times. Some events free.

Family Fun Night: Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre presents demonstrations, experiments, and exhibits. 6.30pm-10pm. Adults $15, concessions $12, children $8. Extra charge for some events.

  Uncle Ben’s Electric Garden: At Parkes Place West near Questacon, this outdoor party features   spooky stories from Where  Beasties Roam, music from Melbourne duo The Twoks and the antics of The Bulls. Tonight 6.30pm to 11.30pm, also on with different acts on March 1, 7 and 8. Free entry.

 Evening Animal Tour:   Close animal encounters on the National Zoo & Aquarium’s   Animal Tour from 6.30pm. Prebooked tickets: Adults $30, concessions $25, children $20. Also on March 1 and 7. 

Barry Morgan’s World of Organs: Featured on the TV show Spicks and Specks, Barry Morgan will present a musical experience on the latest release from the Hammond Organ company, the ‘‘1981 Aurora Classic’’. Questacon, tonight and March 1 at 7.30pm. Prebooked tickets: $35/$30/$20.

 Fire Garden:  Visitors can stroll through a garden of fire at the High Court and see  balls of flame  float  into the sky.  Tonight and March 1, 7 and 8 from 8pm to 11pm. Free entry.

 SATURDAY, MARCH 1

 Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires: Charles Bradley went from homelessness to  a singer-songwriter whose debut album of soul music was released when he was 62.  National Portrait Gallery, 8pm. Free entry.

Fire of Love: The Song Company’s 30th Anniversary Season marks the final stage of a four-year cycle based on the elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Not suitable for children under seven. The audience must arrive 15 minutes before the performance.  Prebooked tickets: $50/$40/$15, family $80. Parliament House, 6pm.

Deviator:  Art group PVI Collective take over the Parliamentary Triangle with 15 games hidden in public places around the triangle using a smartphone. Canberran Steve Berrick is one of the people behind programming the equipment used as part of the games. The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 8 and 9.30pm, also on February 28, March 7, March 8. Prebooked tickets: $30/$25.

  Within without: This 2010 sculpture by James Turrell at the National Gallery of Australia offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the light cycle at dusk.  Duration from 30 to 45 minutes. Arrive 15 minutes early to ensure your eyes have adjusted. At 7pm, also on February 28, March 7 and 8. Free.

 FRIDAY, MARCH 7

Short films: What do an empty road, the Wi-Fi symbol, and the Shine Dome have in common? They’re among the 10 items that must  be included in the short films made for Lights! Canberra! Action!, screening in the Senate Rose Gardens from 7pm. Free entry.

 Elvis at 21 Karaoke Party:  Elvis is leaving the building.   Get ready to give the King the farewell he deserves with drinks, karaoke and 1950s-style fun on the last Friday of the Elvis at 21 exhibition of photographs of Presley by Alfred Wertheimer. Patrons aged under 18  must be supervised.  National Portrait Gallery, 5.30pm-8pm. Free entry with exhibition ticket for March 7.

SciNight Latin Fiesta: At Questacon’s geeky night for adults only, visitors can delve into Peruvian archaeology, explore chocolate-making,  compete in a cheesy game show and  get hands-on with more than 200 interactive exhibits. Prebooked tickets: $15/$12 (more at the door).

Radio Variety Hour:   A homage to 1950s radio serials,  as   actors   give  voice to dozens of classic characters including Joan Jackson: Female Private Detective and  Space Captain Jet Propulsion. As it is presented in association with the Canberra Comedy Festival you can bet the emphasis will be on laughs as much as nostalgia. Old Parliament House, 7.30pm and 9pm. Prebooked tickets $22.50.

 Fiesta: Enjoy a night of art, dance, live music and film, as the lawns of the National Gallery of Australia are transformed into a celebration of the sights, sounds and tastes of Peru. Tonight and Saturday, March 8, 6pm to 9.30pm. Free entry.

  The Motorcycle Diaries: A screening of the 2004 film about a young Che Guevara.   Rated M. National Gallery of Australia, 9.30pm. Free entry.

 SATURDAY MARCH 8

Songs of the Railways: Award-winning indigenous singer-songwriter Troy Brady will rock the National Archives, celebrating stories of indigenous rail workers in Australia through  R&B and soul-flavoured song. At 8pm. Tickets: $30 ($25 concession)  available from ticketek.com. 

 Fiers a Cheval: See a herd of horses,   all of them  gigantic inflatable puppets  lit from within and set in motion by  puppeteers who create dreamlike images of horses galloping through the night.   At John Dunmore Lang Place, 7.45pm; also on March 7. Free entry.

  Out of Africa: Surrounded by lions, it’s like being transported to the heart of Africa with the  tunes and  stories of  African multi-instrumentalist Valanga Khoza. National Zoo and Aquarium. 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Prebooked tickets $35/$30.

 Peru Sabe: Cuisine As An Agent of Social Change: In this film,  influential  chef Gaston Acurio takes his long-time friend and fellow chef Ferran Adria on a tour of Peru’s culinary and cultural history. National Gallery of Australia, 9.30pm. Free entry.