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Review: Lightscape at Brisbane Botanic Gardens

Review by Yasmin Elahi


Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens are lit up for this year’s Brisbane Festival. In association with Sony Music, Brisbane Festival has brough the gardens alive in an after-dark experience suitable for spectators of all ages.


The gardens are separated into 13 different installations, each with a unique theme. Beginning at the lake, ‘Lillies’ by Jigantics have installed 18 giant illuminated lilies upon the water, each majestic and peaceful as they float effortlessly between the fountains.


Projections of drawings by First Nations artist grace the walkway of the next installation, accompanied by the mesmeric sounds of Didgeridoo. The pathway transforms into an immersive gallery with a wonderful soundscape to match in this ‘First Nations Walk’.


‘Kaleido Walk’ by Culture Creative is a psychedelic 100 metres of fun. The installation immerses patrons in the light, bathing them in the kaleidoscopic glow as it moves and swirls beneath their feet, projected from high above.


‘Winter Cathedral’ is perhaps the most impressive installation of the walk and provides the perfect selfie background. A massive 40 metre tunnel made from tens of thousands of twinkling fairy lights looms over the gardens – the lights arranged as an archway, inspired by cathedral architecture. Mandylights are known in over 50 countries and with this installation it is easy to see why.


Next up on the walk are two installations again by Culture Creative – ‘Neon Fig Roots’ and ‘Neon Tree’. Vibrant lengths of neon tubing have been carefully interweaved with the fig roots and adorn each length of the trees from root to tip. The branches glow in the darkness in a multi-coloured display that pierces the night sky.


Floating from the sky is hundred of red poppies in the next installation by Pitaya. ‘Floraison’ is reminiscent of the famous poppies in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and are equally as hypnotic.


‘Laser Garden’ by Mandylights takes the patrons on a more dramatic turn. Thousands of bright green lazer beams combined with theatrical fog not only reflect on the trees but hang in the air like a ‘Mission Impossible’ challenge. Luckily, they do no harm to walk through – but it is a fun challenge to try and dodge the beams. Perhaps the most immersive segment of the walk, the audience is immersed within the lights and smoke in an eerie and captivating experience.

‘River of Lights’ by ITHACA Studio sees the rolling ground covered in LED lights – timed to a soundtrack, they give the illusion of a river running downstream. Reminiscent of synchronised Christmas lights, this installation is perhaps a gentle reminder that we are merely 12 weeks away from the festive season.


‘Dancing Bamboo’ by Mandylights effectively brings the tall plants to life. Combining sound and lighting projections, the installation gives the impression the bamboo is alive, dancing merrily to the musical soundscape.


‘Half Arches’ by Culture Creative plays with perspective by using structed half arches to create a modernistic archway for patrons to walk under and complements the surrounding foliage.

Flames in the form of 150 candles adorn the formal garden in Culture Creative’s ‘Fire Garden’. This natural installation is captivating to watch as each flame dances in the wind in an almost prehistoric lighting display.


Paper birds adorn the trees in a flock 40 strong as part of Pitaya’s ‘Paloma’. The white birds cling in the branches of the trees, posed in dynamic positions. They give new meaning to the natural architecture of the trees and illuminate the upper branches in a soft, majestic glow.

In the centre of the gardens, the palm trees have been brought to life. ITHACA Studio’s ‘Palm Tree Circle Show’ is a fully automated sound and lighting display. The trees light up one by one in what becomes a walkthrough choir, each tree illuminating as they ‘sing’.


Overall, ‘Lightscape’ by Brisbane Festival is a breathtaking lighting display. The curation of the walk is expert. Each installation complements the section of the gardens in which it has been placed and each installation works harmoniously with the existing flora. A self-guided tour suitable for the whole family, ‘Lightscape’ is an after-dark event that should be on everyone’s must do list this Brisbane Festival!

Image Supplied


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