As Melbourne International Arts Festival (MIAF) artistic director Jonathan Holloway puts it: October is for MIAF and November is for sleeping. So while others chose to be snug in bed, The Plus Ones headed off to see Melbourne’s famous Royal Botanic Gardens set on fire – all in the name of art.
For more than 20 years, French artists Compagnie Carabosse have been lighting up some of the world’s most recognisable locations with firelight. Stonehenge, The Kremlin, a bridge in Vietnam and a former prison in Morocco have all been torched by the group, allowing sights we know well to be seen in a different light.
Transforming Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens into a dreamscape of mystery, the artists created large scale spheres of flames that floated across the lake, tunnels of fire to walk through, red-hot sculptures that flicker and dance and fiery cauldrons to warm your hands against while admiring the sights. The immersive soundtrack of live musicians looping their instruments was every bit as brilliant as the garden itself. We made our way through the night garden, past crowds of people exploring the different fiery sights around every corner. Our highlight was walking along the boardwalk which was illuminated with white singlet lanterns and a live soundtrack by a very talented cello player. We also loved the artists working together (in matching suits) to light each massive candle as the sunset. It was a wonderful shared experience and there were plenty of families out showing their kids the sights.
Fire Gardens lit up Melbourne’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens in a way no-one has thought to do before, once again showing that Melbourne Festival is a fantastic addition to Melbourne’s already jam-packed event schedule. We are looking forward to seeing what new and wonderful art they will bring to Melbourne in 2019!
Tomas Zagoda is a filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. You can follow him @TomasZagoda