Sunday, February 10, 2013

Luminous Night: University of Western Australia Centenary celebrations

2013 marks the 100 year anniversary of the University of Western Australia, Perth's oldest and most traditional university. To celebrate, the University is holding a number of Centenary celebrations, the biggest and most public of which was Luminous Night last Friday.

Luminous Night was intended to transform the University into a walk-through gallery and performance space, with continuous displays and performances by artists, musicians, actors and acrobats. The 'luminous' part referred to the use of light around the campus, and to a light projection masterpiece on the 1932, cathedral-like Winthrop Hall.

Luminous trees and many people

The Friday celebrations were also timed to coincide with the start of the Perth International Arts Festival. I have mentioned the festival previously, in relation to our outdoor cinema outing. From now until March, there are Festival happenings in Perth most nights, and plenty of free entertainment to complement paid events.

As we drove to UWA on Friday evening, Mr Bite casually mentioned that it would be a shame if no one turned up for the centenary celebrations. That is the sort of comment that is guaranteed to fire up my over-empathic steak. As I was worrying about how the evening would turn out for the organisers (who I in no way personally know), and thinking about how horrible it would be if no one turned up, we reached a traffic jam that extended out from the University campus.

Approaching the University one hour after the start of events

I think it is safe to say that people turned up.

I suspect the crowds were even beyond what the University had hoped for, with certain parts of the campus being difficult to walk through. One such section was the Winthrop Hall area, where a 20 minute light and sound show was played on five occasions over the night.

This isn't the usual exterior of the building...

The lighting transformed the hall into a series of images that covered Western Australia and the University from pre-British settlement, to the first days of the University, to the current day.

We watched through heads and trees, but even with those inconveniences the effects were stunning.


Our night also included a 30 minute silent film of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, accompanied by music from University musicians, which was shown because it too debuted 100 years ago. The celebrations continued until midnight, but we left after a fireworks display at 10.30pm. Even so, it was a late night by my standards!

Luminous swans.

I am glad for the University's sake that so many Perth people turned out to help celebrate the centenary, and glad for our sake that we went along. We hope to enjoy a few more free Festival events this month, but I suspect that none will be quite as atmospheric as Friday night.

Have you had any bonus local events lately? Or taken part in any centenary celebrations for organisations near you?

19 comments:

  1. It is the centenary of Canberra this year so we are all about the 100 year mark over here. This weekend is our annual Multicultural Festival. S and I went last night and I was amazing. We ate such great food, heard beautiful music and saw lots of dancing. But most of the Canberra celebrations won't happen till March so we have lots to look forward to.

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    1. Your celebrations looked fantastic in your post :) And I am sure the March 100 year celebrations will be fantastic too - what a great thing to look forward too.

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  2. Funny I was just looking at a list of upcoming local events for this area just yesterday, thinking there was a lot of great stuff coming up.
    It's great when so many people support things like this, aren't we lucky that there are so many choices to go to.

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    1. We are lucky indeed - it makes such a difference to where you live when things are happening, especially when they are things that align with your interests. I hope you enjoy your own local events :-)

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  3. What a great celebration and I'm so glad people turned up. I love your images xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - it was a really fun night.

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  4. Sounds great - I love outdoor celebrations - it is amazing to see a landscape transformed - we expect outdoor transformations less than indoor I think. I'm glad it was a success as it looks like a great spectacle

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    1. Thanks Johanna, I think the university will be pleased and we certainly deemed it a success. There is something great about outdoor celebrations, when you see spectacular effects on an indoor stage it's less magical somehow (that doesn't really make sense, but it's true nonetheless!).

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  5. Wow! What a wonderful event! So beautiful! I believe we, as human beings, love history whether realize it or not so I'm not surprised that so many people showed up ;). Things didn't just magically appear from thin air. Seeing the progression from the University's humble beginnings to its present grandiose state must've been a neat experience!

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    1. It really was - thank you Min :-) And you are clearly right about people valuing history, because the number of people there would suggest it is high on what people care about!

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  6. Ha! Yeah, I totally do that too with getting anxious for strangers for events they've planned and the like. Buskers made me cry as a kid. Fricking empathy overdrive.

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    1. I know. It's ridiculous. I wish it had an off switch! It amazes me that some people don't have those sorts of reactions, but I suspect their lives are much easier!

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  7. oh my gosh, that is STUNNING!! those colors are so freaking vibrant...that is unreal!! go gorgeous...thanks for sharing! i'm lame, no cool events like that over here. :(

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  8. UWA has such a gorgeous campus. It was freezing when I was there in July 2011, so I didn't get to spend as much time wandering the campus in awe as I should have, but the bits I did see were just lovely.

    JCU had a 40th anniversary a few years ago, but all our buildings are ugly old concrete numbers, so even displaying pretty lights on them wouldn't have made the campus look nice!

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    1. I didn't know you'd been over this way so recently - what a pity I didn't know you then :) It is a gorgeous campus, and so well located too. Mind you, I think there are still some ugly old concrete numbers around, and I suspect most univerities have at least a few of them!

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  9. Sounds like fun - and I adore all the pretty lights.

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  10. Kari!!! My husband and I were there!! Haha, we probably passed by each other and didn't even know. It was such a gorgeous night, despite the crowds. I went to UWA and I felt a little nostalgic towards the end... I miss studying sometimes. Working full time is good in terms of money, but nothing beats free time, fun and partying late at night in the full knowledge that you can sleep in the next morning! I even miss those darn peacocks! x

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