White Night 2015

Over the weekend Melbourne’s biggest celebration of art, music and architecture delighted a massive half a million people. White Night Melbourne, a one-night-only sensory spectacular, saw a diverse crowd of people flood into the central business district for the serious business of soaking up all the cultural events on offer. With over 70 events spaced over a large area it was impossible to meaningfully visit every site within the 12 hour festival, however here is a selection of the delightful experiences of 2015


This lighting exhibition used stick figure like lighting sculptures and carefully programmed lighting sequences to animate and imply movement. Watching the figures move across the NGV refelction pond brought to mind flip book style animation. The piece was put together by  Groupe LAPS under the artistic directorship of Thomas Veyssiere. The quick movement and at times comedic sound track made this a crowd favorite at the southern end of the festival.




4 Elements – Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building White Night 4

The Royal Exhibition Building as never seen before

This was really the biggest highlight of White Night 2015. Projected upon the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, this multimedia experience perfectly blended the art forms of animation, dance, music and architecture to create a truly memorable event. At times the facade appeared to have been overgrown by vines which then catch fire as a figure dances across the massive canvas. With artistic direction by Nuno Maya, and an original sound composition by French composer Sylvain Moreau this carefully curated projection piece was a big crowd favorite.

The Royal Exhibition Building is arguably the most significant building in Melbourne. It was design by prolific architect Joseph Reed and construction was completed in 1880. It is the only still surviving Grand Hall to house a 19th Century International Exhibition. This building was also used for the opening of the first Federal Parliament of Australia in 1901.

The original exhibition of this piece was in Cascais, Portugal on a much smaller and less ornate buildings. It is interesting to see what a difference the change in architecture makes to this piece. The scale and monumentality of The Royal Exhibition Building makes it the perfect canvas for projections. If you wanted to see 4 elements, it was best to see it in Melbourne.


Old Melbourne Gaol 

A trip to the Old Melbourne Gaol impresses upon the visitor the power that a space can possess over an individual. Matched with a sinister history of captivity and executions this building oozes an uneasy atmosphere. This atmosphere and history overwhelmed the temporary and slightly out of place art exhibition of ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ by artist Terry Taylor.

Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly Sins within the Old Melbourne Gaol

Eat Me

Inspired by the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland, this multimedia projection was located within the State Library Reading Room. The striking visual experience was created by renowned French artists Antoine + Manuel and set to a beautiful soundtrack by Sui Zhen. Like the Royal Exhibition Building, the State Library of Victoria was also designed by Architect Joseph Reed. His work on the reading room created a spectacular space. To transform this iconic chamber with a projection of millions of stars is something that had to be seen to be believed.

Eat Me

‘Eat Me’ Inspired by Alice in Wonderland



This event explored the artistic methods of drawing as a performance piece. The collaboration between artist Kellie O’Dempsey and musician Mick Dick, was an action collage with sketches on paper projected on to a wall merged with simultaneous paint brushed directly upon the ‘canvas’, all set to a moody soundtrack. The live nature of this event showcased the creative process of the artist rather than just the ‘finished product’ making it an ideal inclusion in the White Night programme.

Draw / Delay saw traditional drawing artwork colide with multimedia to create a performance piece

Draw / Delay saw traditional drawing artwork colide with multimedia to create a performance piece


Ghostly Machines

The experience of visiting Hamer Hall is in itself something special. The ‘Ghostly Machines’ performance was conceived by the production technicians at Arts Centre Melbourne who use the high tech Sound lighting and scenery mechanisms to deliver the venue as performance art.

Ghostly Machines

Ghostly Machines

With approximately half a million people flocking into the Melbourne CBD this event really challenges the notion of what Melbourne culture is. Yes we have our sporting events, such as the Melbourne Cup or the AFL Grand Final but this event is something different. Unlike most of our sporting carnivals with long histories, this is only the third Melbourne White Night. It is also refreshing to have an event which is not associated with alcohol consumption or gambling.

White Night in many ways marks a significant step in the evolution of Melbourne from a single purpose commercial precinct to a 24 hour multipurpose hub. As a city – through creative pursuits of art, design, architecture, dance and music – Melbourne has shown of its credentials as an international city with a creative soul.

Architecture is for Everyone.


About Michael Smith

Architect and Director of Atelier Red + Black based in Melbourne, Australia
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2 Responses to White Night 2015

  1. livsmith21 says:

    So to provide the counterpoint, here are some of the things from white night that could be improved.

    1) empty spots – there were some places we went where the exhibits weren’t there, just the sign

    2) more to see in the CBD itself. The best things were south of the yarra or up in Carlton gardens, what was in between was less spectacular, and that’s a long walk in a big crowd with not much for the crowd to see

    3) it seemed like a lot of people struggled to find maps. We gave away more than one to people who hadn’t found them.

    There were also a few things that we’re disappointing compared to last year:

    4) Flinders St Station!!!! It’s our iconic building. How could it’s main facade not be part of white night?

    5) Melbourne Central was one of the highlights last year with a wonderful projection on to the shot tower. This year it seemed to be all about occasional music and late night shopping.

    6) St Paul’s Cathedral had some fantastic illumination of some of it’s less obvious facades last year which were blank this year.

    Don’t get me wrong, I had a great night and there was some spectacular things on offer. But there is still room for us to improve this event, particularly since it is so new.

  2. Pingback: White Night Melbourne 2016 | The Red and Black Architect

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