Melbourne’s White Night 2017

Once again Melbourne has turned it on for the spectacular cultural juggernaut that is White Night. A crowd of around 600,000 took part in the all night festival of projections, performances, artworks and installations.

Stealing the show again this year was the extraordinary projections upon the Royal Exhibition Building.  The Light show entitled ‘Rhythms Of The Night’ by White Night & Artists In Motion, depicted the four stages of sleep. These fantastical scenes were at times like that of a Halloween nightmare, with spiders and skeletons. The dream would them move on by disintegrating into vibrant black and white patterns reminiscent of MC Escher.

Supporting this main event, were a number of excellent installations throughout the Carlton Gardens Precinct. Sailing in between the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building was ‘The Pyrophone Juggernaut’. Part steel pirate ship, part musical performance, part pyrotechnic show this collaboration between Hubbub Music and Strut & Fret was a real crowd favorite.

Nearby, the Sonic Light Bubble by Eness and Pixel Fruit by Tim Newman both created valuable support pieces to this precinct, which as a whole was a significant improvement from previous years.

Nebulous by Alex Sanson

In Flinders Street, the ‘usual suspects’ between St Pauls Cathedral and the Forum Theatre were lit up with vibrant animations. This year the theme was ‘Fractured Fairytales’ which gave some traditional fairytales a Pop Art feel.

Fractured Fairytales by White Night with The Electric Canvas

In the southern gardens, participants were greeted with any number of unusual sights and experiences. The White Knight Messenger, a superb piece by Blanck Canvas, patrolled St Kilda Road, moving majestically between the Elm trees.

The Bouquet Toss, Mitch Gow and Eloise Kent

Another White Night favorite is the State Library of Victoria which was illuminated both outside and from within the reading room. This year punters were taken on a trip beneath the waves, to view the seascapes of Port Phillip Bay. Seals, Seahorses and a swarm of crabs all made for a surreal library experience in the middle of the night.

Outside the library a group of protesters took the opportunity to make their views known on the City of Melbourne’s homeless ban. Their protest was peaceful and undertaken with great respect.

Seadragon’s Lair by Sheree Marris, Lisa Greenaway and John Power, in the State Library of Victoria

Perhaps no building is more suitable for dramatic projection than the National Gallery of Victoria. The smooth bluestone facade beyond the rippling water fountain could make any moving image sing. This year the fashion designs of Victor and Rolf were chosen to bring the colour and style. Whilst it probably didn’t live up to the highs of last year, it remained a spectacular contributor to the evening.

Not all parts of the program were brilliant successes. The illumination of the Coops Shot Tower at Melbourne Central was quite underwhelming and the limited scope of the Flinders Street Station projections (although high in quality) would have disappointed some.

VIKTOR&ROLF – INSIDE OUT by White Night with the Electirc Canvas

Overall White Night 2017 was another shining success for the arts and urban culture in Melbourne. Yet despite the 600,000 strong crowds and the crowding issues having largely been resolved, there is a determined force that is working to undermine this event.

Some sections of conservative politics are attempting to politicize the event as a law and order issue. This is being readily facilitated by some sections of the media who are continually pushing fear. If you were to read the Herald Sun at the moment, you might think Melbournians shouldn’t leave their homes for fear of certain death. The reality at White Night however that there were ample police available to respond to the slightest issue.

The White Night crowd size of 600,000 punters is roughly equivalent to the size of 6 Melbourne Cup crowds. Despite this huge number, there were just 21 police arrests. By comparison there were 9 arrests at the Melbourne Cup in 2016, well over double the arrest rate per patron.

There are always going to be incidents when there are large crowds at events, but to push fear for political gain, is petty and irresponsible. White Night is a celebration of our diverse society together, enjoying the vibrancy of our city, contesting ideas, experiencing culture and participating in urban life.

“Night the beloved.

Night when words fade and things come alive”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

White Night

To see the original article and additional images, visit Michael Smith's blog - The Red and Black Architect

Development & Planning

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 00:00
Hot on the heels of news that Holiday Inn will anchor Werribee's tallest proposed development, the application for 22-26 Synnot Street has gone to advertising. At over 42 metres in height and spread across a 2,567 square metre site the project is Werribee's largest, and accounts for the last of a trio of catalyst sites earmarked by Wyndham City Council as perfect for urban renewal.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 07:00
Late last year Urban Melbourne was invited for a tour of the new offices of CAPI in Windsor and a chat with its founder Pitzy Folk. The 1930’s building now known as '151 Albert' had previously housed Telstra and has been refurbished by renowned interior designer and family friend of the Folk family, Tamsin Johnson into 1,400 sqm of office and break out space across two floors and a basement.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 00:00
Likened in some quarters as a miniature Federation Square, construction works began last week on a Prahran project that will rank as one of 2018's most progressive and important. Kane Constructions has the job of transforming 30-40 Izett Street under a $60+ million urban renewal initiative prompted by Stonnington City Council.