What an amazing winter Hobart has provided! In an effort to draw people away from their warm fireplaces and electric blankets, our (eccentric?) MONA owner David Walsh introduced a festival to the city – to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Aptly named Dark MOFO, for ten days in June the city came alive with a celebration of the dark through public art, food, music, light and noise.An eclectic mix of international guests (including The Presets and Martha Wainwright) provided the musical entertainment, and a number of public art exhibitions were on display at both the MONA museum and a disused waterfront shed.
The controversial ‘Skywhale’ – a hot air balloon commissioned by sculptor Patricia Piccinini for Canberra’s centenary celebrations – made her debut over the Hobart skyline, causing a polarized audience either loving her or hating her – no middle ground. I personally loved her – and love anyone who dares to push the boundaries with modern art.
A number of light installations displayed throughout the city, including a controversial ‘psychedelic’ display of fog, strobe lights and sound called Zee, that landed more than seven people in hospital with seizures!
But by far the most amazing and popular installation was ‘Spectra’ by Ryoji Ikeda – a series of 49 searchlights around a 7 by 7 grid base at the cenotaph at the Domain, forming a beam of white light that shone fifteen kilometers above the Hobart sky. Complete with sinewaves – the purest form of sound wave – that provided a sound composition based on the movement of the people around the base, it was possibly the most spectacular light show I’ve ever seen.
From dusk till dawn for ten days, Hobartians were treated to this awesome spectacle. I was privileged to look at it with a clear view from my loungeroom window every night. Thousands of people braved the wind, rain and cold every night to head up to the Domain to experience this amazing art display.
I can highly recommend a visit during next year’s MOFO to see this sight.
The final weekend of this festival included ‘Winter Feast’ – a three day food and wine extravaganza, held in the ever popular Princes Wharf shed, opposite Salamanca. Decorated in Pagan style with sexy red lighting, banquet style tables with lighted candles and roving entertainers, massive crowds ventured into the city on bitterly cold nights to partake in this event to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Firepits and braziers drew people outside to enjoy a laser light installation by Robin Fox.
The final ‘exhibition’ of this festival, in keeping with the general theme of all things connected to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) – controversial, edgy, created for the shock value – was a Winter Solstice nude swim. Yes, in the freezing waters of the Derwent River, around three hundred and fifty brave souls bared their bits in the early hours of Sunday morning for a plunge – to embrace midwinter! Even our Lord Mayor joined in the fun (?) – the result of an ill-timed bet.
What a fantastic way to celebrate winter! This festival was a huge success, and just about everyone is looking forward to next year’s – our David Walsh knows how to put Hobart on the map!
In the meantime, we have our next winter festival to enjoy in less than two weeks! The Festival Of Light kicks off with a bonfire night and free concert along the esplanade at Salamanca. Gosh, I’m loving winters in Hobart – who said they have to be dull?