The chilly dark of midwinter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but, for Glow Winter Arts Festival co-curators Nicole Warren and Jessica Morrison, it’s the best time of the year. “There’s nothing like grabbing your coat and your rain jacket and just going out on an adventure in winter,” says Morrison. “As long as you’re warm, it’s amazing.”
Entering its ninth year, the Glow Winter Arts Festival is entirely based at Malvern’s Central Park this year, taking full advantage of the early winter darkness with a series of unique light installations and lit-up art pieces. From Thursday June 15 to Sunday June 18, the park will light up each night as the sun sets. “Light is so fun to play with but in summer it doesn’t get dark till nine, nine-thirty,” says Warren. “Being able to do this in the depth of winter in June, families can have their moment ¬– that 5 o’clock hour – and then the festival site really becomes an after-dark playground for adults.”
Here’s what to expect if you’re heading along this year:
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Escape to the Alps
Melbourne artist Carla O’Brien (aka Volter International) specialises in neon installations, working with malleable LED Neon Flex to create technicolour worlds. This year, O’Brien is turning Central Park’s sandstone fountain into an electric version of a snowy resort. “It’s an invitation to take a selfie and pretend you’re in the alps on holiday,” says Warren. The installation will feature interactive toboggan rides, ice skaters and a giant snowman, all glowing in neon.
At 23 metres long and 10 metres tall, the inflatable Tree Man is a massive installation with an equally big message. “This artwork explores the balance between the digital world and the natural world and how we need to stay attached and really nurture nature,” says Morrison. Art and tech studio Eness have designed the blow-up piece of a man hugging a tree to power down when left alone, coming to life with light and sound only when being viewed.
For Glittering Night, art and science collective Skunk Control is creating a kaleidoscopic botanical garden of massive light-up plants that imitate nature. “That’s something Skunk Control do so beautifully, they manage to create these incredible artworks that have such a science behind them,” says Warren. “It’s all about mimicking what happens in nature ¬– petal movement or light colour or the play of light and movement through objects.”
Across each of the festival’s four nights, artist Niow will use Central Park’s conservatory as a stage for a whimiscal serialised performance. As the narrative continues each night, Niow tells the story of an ambiguous creature interacting with its biosphere. “It’s really about an animal-like being exploring their life and identity,” says Warren. If you want to catch the full, continuing story, each night will be available on a livestream to watch from the warmth of your home.
Monsters Love You… But Might Eat You
By inflating five enormous (but still pretty cute) monsters, artist Maurice Goldberg is trying to inspire some introspection. “What the creators were exploring in this were all the things we don’t like within ourselves – the monsters within ourselves,” says Morrison. The blow-up creatures are all made from recycled PET bottles and, luckily for the kids, are fully interactive.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Stonnington.