Thursday, November 18, 2010

OzAsia - Lighting the Night with Lanterns Pt2

Well - it's been a very busy week... I was going to finish off the story of the Moon Lantern Festival earlier, but it's been a bit delayed due to those real-world realities. Now where were we....that's right...

At the end of the parade, and following the fireworks, the lanterns are gathered around the Rotunda for everyone to get a closer look. There were about 30 or so larger "feature" lanterns in total. Each one having a particular theme or country association. Unfortunately the Japanese lantern was not one of the better ones...

There was quite a variety of ideas and implementations. One of my favourites was the gymnast (featured on the top of this post) as she was able to swing on the float which made for a dynamic sight as she was being carried through the crowd.

Some of the floats you could easily work out the influence... for example the anime inspired lantern on the left... but other were less obvious... why was as there a 1940's looking bikini-clad woman straddling a representation of the Festival Centre? Was this some sort of Godzilla-like reference to society being assailed by the uncontrollable forces of nature unleashed by a modern ethics-challenged science? Why don't we ever learn! Why!?!?!

There was a distinct feeling of bringing cultures together... I almost wanted to break out into song at times..."It's a small world after all..." As the focus is very much on school-children in the event, it's nice to see some very positive messages in the designs. The night is definitely about inclusion, and there is a strong sense amongst the crowd of sharing a common experience...

South Australia was for a long time known as the Festival State (and officially still is), a reputation that was built from it's long association with the Festival of the Arts... Back in the 70's in particular, Adelaide could rightfully lay claim to having a special place in the Arts scene within Australia, and we still do grass-roots community-based events very well.

The epicentre of the Festival is Elder Park - which sits alongside the River Torrens in the heart of the city. Adelaide was initially designed by Colonel William Light in the 1830's to be a square mile city-centre located on the banks of the Torrens which was to act as both the water source, and the sewer ( now I could be wrong, but that doesn't sound like such a great plan right there... and indeed cholera outbreaks followed). By the 1880's the river was a bit of a mess "...anything in the guise of a river more ugly than the Torrens would be impossible to either see or describe..." (Anthony Trollope prior to 1880)... they say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but.... In 1881, the existing Torrens Lake (what you see below) was developed through the building of a number of weirs, giving the illusion of a very European river running through the centre of the city, as compared to the small river that actually is normally). Since that time the area has become a beautiful area for families to congregate in the summer months.

Looking west, along the river you see the Entertainment Centre (a poor man's Sydney Opera House) the Hyatt hotel, with the Convention Centre (the low-lying building to the right)... It's not a bad view, but still a little early in the year for romantic walks along the river.

Whilst L-kun loved the lanterns, he enjoyed the overall excitement of being out later than he normally would be... Running around in the cool September night was an opportunity to blow off some steam. Whether that was running around a tree, or rolling down a hill. Actually we were a little lucky that the rain stayed away... a nice change from recent years.
T-chan watches L-kun running through the park

At the end of the day, it's a nice family-friendly festival, especially earlier in the evening. Whilst there's a number of strong asian communities within Adelaide, there's not (with the possible exception of Chinese New Year, and small events such as the Mobara Festival) much community focus on the asian culture in what is still a largely anglo-saxon society. The face of that society has been steadily changing over the last 30 years, and it might be that events such as the OzAsia Festival are a welcome (and somewhat overdue) reflection of that.


  1. Wow! Those are some very impressive lanterns! Looks like good times! :)

  2. Yeah - it's a good night, but I would like to have had a chance to see some of the other shows/events on this year... and yet I know that next year I'll more than likely be saying the same thing.