‘Islands of Light’ sure to delight

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival artistic director Rochelle Brophy (right) and lantern artist Abby...
Dunedin Midwinter Carnival artistic director Rochelle Brophy (right) and lantern artist Abby Fleur work on covering a sea-themed lantern for display in the new-look community event next weekend. PHOTOS: BRENDA HARWOOD
A magical fairyland will fill the grounds of First Church, against a backdrop of jaw-dropping projections, in the new-look Dunedin Midwinter Carnival. Brenda Harwood  takes a closer look.

The giant community midwinter celebration, to be held after dark next Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9, has undergone some changes to keep audiences safe and ensure a good viewing experience for everyone.

Artistic director Rochelle Brophy said the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival, which attracted 25,000 spectators to the Octagon last year, had become difficult to manage, and so the decision was made to make some changes.

"With such a large audience, people have to stand close together - which is not good during a pandemic, and it becomes really hard to see the lanterns properly," she said.

The event will now be held over two nights, at a "carnival village" in the grounds of First Church, with the large feature lanterns displayed as installations on the theme of "Islands of Light".

"Light and creativity in the middle of winter is what we do, so we are taking our audience on a journey through different islands of light," Brophy said.

"This will give people the chance to spread out across the two evenings, and to get a really close view of our beautiful large lanterns."

A dedicated team of lantern artists, led by Filipa Fairy, have been working to create new giant lanterns, and to cover popular existing lanterns with waterproof fabric in preparation for the display.

Families who have made lanterns at this month’s workshops will also be involved, taking part in lantern mini-processions, at 7pm, 7.30pm, and 8pm each evening.

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival art team volunteer Alice McLaurin works on putting waterproof fabric...
Dunedin Midwinter Carnival art team volunteer Alice McLaurin works on putting waterproof fabric on mushroom lanterns ahead of next weekend’s carnival.
Two stages will showcase live local music, dance and cultural performances, and roving performers will move through the crowds, while Brophy Aerials performers will be high in the trees.

"We are going to have a lot of wonderful performers involved across the two nights — it really will be magical," Brophy said.

The historic First Church building will also be featured during the carnival, as a giant canvas for projections created by Oamaru-based artist Derek Golding and Dunedin tattooist Tere Moeroa.

Creating the projections has involved a combination of projection mapping — taking into account the point of view of the public and the layers of First Church as a tapestry, with visual imagery.

The artists are keen to keep the element of surprise, saying only that Moeroa provided Golding with sketches of a traditional Cook Islands myth of Ina and the Shark.

"I sort of thought of this project as a symphony of patterns and colour, bringing warmth to the Deep South," Moeroa said.

The story will be viewed through a giant magic lantern lens, which will be powered by a giant steam engine embedded in First Church.

Entry to the Carnival Village will be $5 per person, with children under 3 free.

Carnival Trust chairman Paul Smith said ticketing the event had caused public debate, but was necessary.

"Initially, we had to redesign the event to suit Covid regulations, but it is also so that we can manage crowd capacity and safety, and to ensure the event’s sustainability," he said.

To help ensure families in need can attend, the Trust has partnered with local charities to distribute tickets funded through a pay-it-forward scheme.

"This provides an opportunity for those that can afford tickets to support others who might not have been able to attend the event."

• Dunedin Midwinter Carnival will be held on Saturday, July 8, from 6pm to 10pm, and Sunday, July 9, from 6pm to 11pm, in First Church grounds and Moray Pl. Event tickets and pay-it-forward available through www.midwintercarnival.co.nz




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