For the Birds

The last NZ Festival in 2014 included an event called Power Plant which was a trail of light and sound installations set up in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It was a well recieved and popular event so there was a follow-up organised for this years festival called For the Birds. As the name suggests this new event had its influence in our feathered friends and overall it was a more thoughtful and relaxed experience while still encouraging interaction and cultivating a sense of wonder.

Books, birds and bird houses

Books, birds and bird houses (Cuckoo Ensemble – Artist: Jony Easterby)


Talking, glowing eggs

Talking, glowing Huia eggs (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)


Now extinct

Now extinct, the eggs of the Haast’s Eagle (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)

Initially the installations were mostly static with small moving parts and subdued lighting. The bird houses above had small bellows that sounded in cycles, mimicking somewhat mournful two note “cuck-oo” calls. The glowing eggs I found very engaging and very relevant. There were a number of nests containing eggs, each set representative of a species of New Zealand bird now extinct. The eggs glowed in time to an audio track of conversation between the birds inside the eggs and their hunters, for instance the unhatched Huia bemoaning that people would want their feathers when they look much better on the bird as intended. There was a lot of humour in the conversations as well which I found helped with the engagement.

Mysterious birds

Mysterious birds (Owls & Kingfishers – Artist: Mark Anderson)

Movement began to be introduced with installations traversing large areas. The mysterious calls of the Owls and Kingfishers piece came from small devices attached to long wires that were strung between trees and above the stream bed. We’d turn as we heard one approach and then watch as they came towards us and then disappear as the lights dimmed at the end of their path, only to spark up and pass back again a short time later. Alayna found it a little disconcerting but that was understandable for a 2 and half year old up well past her bedtime. I just wanted to find a space where I could try and get some photos without interrupting the constant flow of fellow visitors.

The glowing tunnel

The glowing tunnel (Feather Arch – Artist: Ulf Pedersen)

A glowing tunnel gradually formed as we walked up a slope, first appearing as lights in the distance and then becoming ephemeral walls and ceiling around us as the light source was approached, light becoming stronger and then fading as the smoke was pushed across the path. It was a beautifully still night so the smoke moved and dissipated slowly keeping the structure of the tunnel very well defined as passers by waved their fingers through the projection.

Birds through the wires

Birds through the wires (Piano Migrations – Artist: Kathy Hinde)

A crowd had formed in from of the Piano Migrations installation watching as shadow birds fluttered through the upended piano strings, their movement apparently touching on strings to make a strange music. Is was quite mesmerising, attested by the amount of time people stood by and took it all in.

Bird house silhouettes

Bird house silhouettes (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)


The bird arch

The bird arch (Lapwing Display – Artist: Jony Easterby)


How it works

How it works (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)

We came out of the forest into the dell that is the Troupe Picnic Lawn with a number of works scattered around. The Shadow Birdcages attracted a number of people who often posed to have their own shadow portrait captured with the bird cage silhouettes. Keryn and Alayna were immortalised in kind as evidenced at the top of this page. Stepping around the screen the birdcages could be seen and provided a separate interesting sight, hanging suspended while bathed in light.

Off to one side the silent outlines of lapwing flew up and then down into the still surface of the stream that defined the lower edge of the dell. The reflections completed the loop, an endless mirrored flight.

Looking at the spinning feathers

Looking at the spinning feathers (Feather Dervishes – Artist: Mark Anderson)


Cello and nightingale

Cello and nightingale (Nightingales with Cello – Artists: Kathy Hinde & Jony Easterby, Cellist: Elena Morgan

The path then headed upwards and opened out as we neared the Cockayne Lawn and rock gardens. Alayna enjoyed watching the Feather Dervishes and was quite keen to touch them as well, something we had to quietly dissuade. A number of large white feathers were spinning while lit by bright white lights and made an intriguing spectacle. All around the trees and vegetation was lit in an array of dusky autumnal colours providing a warm and inviting atmosphere. There was a variety of installations and near the end we stood and listened as cellist Elena Morgan played counterpoint to a recording of nightingales.

All up it was a wonderful walk full of interesting and thought provoking sights and sounds. We can’t wait to see what amazing event may came along during the next NZ Festival.

Wellington Lux 2013

The annual Wellington Lux festival of light took place from the 21st-24th June 2013 and for the general public the attraction was a number of installations set up around Wellington city. Due to the stormy weather earlier in the week the first night where the installations could be viewed was on Saturday 22nd. Saturday night wasn’t very pleasant in the city with a cold wind and intermittent showers that occasionally turned to rain. Starting on the waterfront I quickly had mostly numb hands and had to set up my camera so it wasn’t facing into the wind to help prevent water spots on the lens. The one benefit of the rain was lots of water on the ground which created good reflections, which led to some more interesting photography. I also returned on Sunday evening for a walk around with Keryn and also as part of a Wellington Photography Meetup. Sunday being the much more pleasant evening with clear skies, almost no wind and a super moon to keep us company.

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2449Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Tūrama Pou by The Interrupt Collective

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2460Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Digital Wattle by Fresh Concept (Saturday night)

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2567Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Digital Wattle by Fresh Concept (Sunday night)

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2472Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Social Firefly by design the future

The installations were all interesting though naturally I had my favourites. T?rama Pou was quite dramatic and totem like. Digital Wattle could be watched for a long time, the changing lights and patterns quite mesmerizing (especially on the Saturday with the stronger wind).

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2486Photo by Brendon & Keryn

BELUGA by Antony Nevin

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2495Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lightweight by Cornelia Erdmann (Saturday)

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2508Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Blend by Sabine Marcelis and Rob Hebing

Next up on the favourite list was Blend. This one required interaction with a crank connected to three light strips. Turning the crank rotated each of the light strips and when photographed they appeared as three blended circles of light. Lots of people were having fun with this one, though on the Sunday night it appeared to be broken with one of the chains missing which was a pity.

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2522Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2538 HDRPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2525Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Tracing Transience by Courtney Norman (Saturday)

Down an alleyway the architectural installation Atmospheric Tessellation hid around a corner and was popular with passers by. A strange glowing construction it seemed to sit like a misplaced piece of some alien hallway that had landed in a dirty back corner of the city. On Saturday night with the sounds of dripping water and broken reflections it was quite eerie.

A short way further along the alleyway the Tracing Transience installation hung between two buildings. The strung up lines of doves pulsed with light in sequence giving a sense of movement. It was harder to photograph on the Saturday due to the rain but the extra glow and smears from the later on the lens add to the atmosphere of the photo.

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2556Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Tracing Transience by Courtney Norman (Sunday)

Wellington Lux Festival 2013 - 2587Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lightweight by Cornelia Erdmann (Sunday)

The festival has been getting bigger and brighter each year, I’m already looking forward to what might be shown next year.