Vivid Sydney is an annual event that transforms the Sydney Harbour into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas. This year numerous creative agencies and artists from Australia and around the world have created 60 light installations and projections that take over the city after dark from 24 May until 10 June.

Individuals from HASSELL have participated regularly in Vivid Sydney in the past, but this year our involvement has been taken to a new level. Four HASSELL-supported installations have been set up in the vicinity of our newly-opened studio in Walsh Bay. Interestingly, this is also the first time that historic Walsh Bay is a major location of the Festival. The event has been a fantastic opportunity for the Sydney studio to engage and become involved with the whole creative community in the Walsh Bay precinct.

The Dalgety Line is a site-specific installation that seeks to reconnect the city and the Harbour, responding to the original position of two assets of the Dalgety company (a wharf and a wool store), as well as a 2012 proposal to split the Millers Point area into two suburbs, disconnecting the hillside settlement from the waterfront. The Dalgety Line seeks to reconnect Millers Point with its historic waterfront, both literally and conceptually. It runs along and across a portion of Hickson Road, suspended above the ground and tethered sensitively to buildings and urban elements. Marking the western threshold of the Vivid Festival, the line creates a sense of arrival or departure for people passing beneath it.

Field of Colour is a series of illuminated coloured tube clusters. Each cluster has the same geometry and spacing except that each is rotated in a slightly different way. The installation accentuates the quality of the site, as it is a quiet and calm piece of with no strong narrative. Its abstract nature means that people can engage with it and interpret it in their own way.

Rats references the invasion of rats that took place in 1900 in The Rocks and Walsh Bay area that resulted in an outbreak of bubonic plague. A program of quarantining the outbreak area followed, as the Sydney Harbour Trust demolished all the existing buildings in the area and created a new rat-proof sea wall to stop rats breeding in the area. The invasion of rats can be seen as the single most defining fact in the development of the area as it is today and the design team used this idea to create the random effect of rats floating the water of Piers 8 and 9 in Walsh Bay. The rats – which try to evoke the slightly eerie feeling of eyes staring out from the dark at passers-by – were crafted by the design team themselves, completely out of material that are associated with the sea and water.

Walsh Bay Whispers looks to the Walsh Bay Wharves and the significant role they played in Sydney’s founding history and maritime past. The wharves were hubs for settlers, traders and travellers, each with their own colourful tale to tell. This installation aims to bring those secrets and stories back to life, capturing the essence of the era when the wharves were first built and the area was a bustling centre of Sydney. Using light and sound to inspire imagination and evoke emotions, Whispers is an immersive experience of discovery and delight where nothing is as it seems. The installation is best described as real-time public theatre and features a custom-built brass and crystal chandelier, ghost illusions, reclaimed doors and windows from historic sites and an emotive soundscape designed by David Pickvance.

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