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Vivid Sydney Festival

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Sydney Goes Vivid
Brian Eno artwork projected onto the Opera House for the inaugural Vivid Sydney Festival in 2009

Brian Eno artwork projected onto the Opera House for the inaugural Vivid Sydney Festival in 2009

© Hamilton Lund / Tourism New South Wales

  • The 2013 Vivid Sydney Festival took place from May 24 to June 10.

Vivid Sydney is a festival of light, music and ideas that includes large-scale light installations and projections through to music performances and the holding of conferences and seminars on ideas and creativity.

The festival spreads its wings and includes light shows on Darling Harbour this year.

Vivid Sydney was first held in 2009 and has become Sydney's major winter festival.

For the three years until 2011, the major Sydney Opera House component, Vivid Live, asked a different artist or individual to curate a program of events in and around the world’s most iconic venue.

Festival directors

Starting in 2012, a festival director took over from the curators. In 2013, three festival directors and a creative advisor.

Festival director for 2012 was Fergus Linehan, head of contemporary music at Sydney Opera House, who worked with an Opera House programming team to deliver the Vivid Live format. He was again the 2013 Vivid Live festival director. He was joined by Anthony Bastic, Vivid Light festival director; Jess Scully, Vivid Ideas festival director; and Ignatius Jones, a world leading event director, Vivid Sydney creative advisor.

Lighting the sails

As the centrepiece to Vivid Sydney, each year a Vivid Live artist is invited to transform the sails of Sydney Opera House with digital projector technology.

In its inaugural year, Vivid Live was curated by English musician and visual artist Brian Eno who not only organised the music program at Sydney Opera House for the duration of the festival but also bathed the exterior of the building with his artwork.

In 2010 curators of Vivid Live were American rocker Lou Reed and artist/musician Laurie Anderson. It was co-curator Laurie Anderson's artwork that lit up the Opera House sails that year.

In 2011, Vivid Live curator Stephen Pavlovic, founder of the Sydney-based record label, touring company and international brand Modular, created what was described as an "astounding lineup of local and international artists, from an 80-year-old master of his art to a band formed just last year to legendary international musicians, gnarly hip-hop collectives one-of-a-kind concerts by electro duos, indie darlings and instrumental heroes, club nights, a daily radio show, audio-visual performances, art installations and even cult children’s entertainment."

Pavlovic gave the role of lighting up the Sydney Opera House exterior to Superbien, a multi-discipline, multi-talented art and design collective from Paris.

In 2012, the German collective Urbanscreen was tasked with lighting the Sydney Opera House sails.

Urbanscreen used 3D projection and the latest in lighting technology to cover the Opera house roofs and walls with a "virtual skin" that transformed them into giant living art.

In 2013, Australia's own creative innovators The Spinifex Group took over the task of lighting the Opera House.

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