Skip to content
4 March 2014 / leggypeggy

Opening night at Enlighten is a huge success

Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House

Canberra’s annual Enlighten event kicked off Friday with great weather and at least 10,000 people turning out to see six national buildings bathed in colourful artworks through the magical of projectors.

Started in 2011, Enlighten marks the beginning of autumn and is a lead-up to celebrating Canberra Day, which is observed each year on the second Monday in March.

Poor John and I arrived soon after the lights were switched on, and already there were crowds surging around the National Gallery, where we parked and started our walk to see all the displays.

Moche culture

National Gallery—art from the Moche culture with stirrup vessel on right

The gallery was showing off images of the breathtaking artworks in their current exhibition, Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru.

Images cycle every couple of minutes, so it’s ideal to linger for 10–15 minutes at each building.

Fire Garden and High Court

Fire Garden and High Court

From the gallery, we moved on to the High Court and its Fire Garden. This is the first year I remember there being a display at the court. Pippa Bailey created this artwork that had fire canisters on the court’s entry ramp and large fire displays positioned in the court’s decorative and cascading fountain.

Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a long low building filled with paintings, sculptures and photographs of Australia’s greats and not-so greats. It also has a special photography exhibit, Elvis at 21. This collection has 56 black-and-white pics of a young Elvis before his rise to fame. Photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer took the pictures following a photo shoot commissioned by RCA Victor, which had recently signed Elvis. Be quick if you want to see it, because it ends 10 March.

Then it was on to Reconciliation Place, Questacon and John Dunmore Lang Place.

Reconciliation Place

Fire and water by Judy Watson

Reconciliation Place is a symbol of the government’s commitment to the ongoing reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Australia. It has 17 important artworks. One of my favourites is fire and water by Judy Watson.

Questacon, our science and technology centre, has a wonderful cube shape and is perfect for architectural projections. This year, visitors are able to ‘splash’ colour onto the building’s exterior. Poor John and I opted to leave this fun to the many young children waiting for a turn.

Nearby was the Circle of Light. Visitors were welcome to manipulate the controls to change the colour and movements of the 12 robotic searchlights.

National Library

Textures and reflection

The National Library is another interesting surface for displaying the projections. Its many columns make it reminiscent of the Parthenon in Greece. We lingered there for quite a while, enjoying the seven or so different images and the reflections they made on the pond in front of the library. The library found my blog and sent along a link to a short video they made of Enlighten at their place. It’s fantastic, so I urge you to check it out.

Old Parliament House

Our last stop on Friday was Old Parliament House. By day, it’s a pure white building, but Enlighten brings out its wonderful architectural lines.

We didn’t get up to the current Parliament House this time, but will pay a visit this coming weekend when Enlighten has it’s final two nights. I’m also keen to see the 12-foot-tall horse puppets scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

There are plenty of other activities going on and organisers are hoping that more than 115,000 people will attend the free and ticketed events on offer.

Old Parliament House


Leave a Comment
  1. / Mar 4 2014 7:24 am

    What a great event Peggy … and I love the name! I’m totally enchanted by the images and your gorgeous photos. It seems like the perfect way to celebrate a seasonal transition. ~Terri


    • leggypeggy / Mar 4 2014 12:22 pm

      So can we put you down for Enlighten next year?


  2. yukigusu / Mar 4 2014 9:59 am

    Peggy and Poor John, this light event looks fascinating. I’m so delighted to reconnect and find your whereabouts via this blog. I quit Facebook but continue to remember our trip in Halong Bay, VN back in 2013:) -Yuki


    • leggypeggy / Mar 25 2014 9:19 pm

      Hello Yuki
      I am so glad you found us. This is wonderful. I still have some pics to send to you from our time in Halong Bay, but I can’t get them off an old computer. I’ll keep trying and hope to send then to you soon. Hope you are well.


  3. Joanne T Ferguson / Mar 4 2014 12:40 pm

    G’day! Looks to be a fantastic fun night with so much to do! GREAT photos!!
    Cheers! Joanne


    • leggypeggy / Mar 4 2014 1:15 pm

      It’s a great night, in fact four great nights. Maybe you’ll make it here one year.


  4. wineandhistory / Mar 4 2014 4:08 pm

    Wow, what a neat event! That would be fantastic to go see – thank you for sharing. I love the Fire and Water sculpture, and that one that looks like mosaic. Is that a close up of Inca jewelry? Camille


    • leggypeggy / Mar 5 2014 9:52 pm

      You are most welcome to join us next year. 🙂 I should post of pic of Fire and Water in daylight. It’s a gorgeous sculpture round the clock. And yes, some of the mosaic is a close-up of Inca jewelry.


  5. Sy S. / Mar 4 2014 6:14 pm

    Very nice, interesting…. the words “Eye Candy” comes to mind; Something purely aesthetically pleasing, that is, pleasing to the senses. Can be a person, a film, a sunset, a flower, or anything else you can see (Urban Dictionary).
    Sy S.


  6. gpcox / Mar 5 2014 10:11 pm

    Don’t know what else to say – but – WOW!


  7. National Library Aus (@nlagovau) / Mar 6 2014 2:16 pm

    If you liked the look of the buildings in photos, check out this video we published today of Enlighten:


    • leggypeggy / Mar 6 2014 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing the link. I’m going to add it to the body of the blog too.


  8. MyKabulKitchen / Mar 20 2014 2:31 pm

    I have lots of family in Australia, yet on every visit we seem so overwhelmed with socializing that I never took time to actually explore the historical and cultural sites in Australia. I do love the lax Aussie approach to life, taking everything as it comes, and really appreciated the high end fashion but I realize I have more to see on future trips. This museum looks amazing, the most eye-catching and exciting museum I have seen. I feel this is a modern look, and its great because it is appealing to the eye and of course is just a taste of what is inside. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2014 6:09 pm

      I’d love to show you around Canberra the next time you make it to Australia. Keep me posted and plan to come when we are in Australia. 🙂


  9. barkinginthedark / May 13 2022 7:19 am

    Peggy, your pix are really great. In every post too. continue…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 13 2022 2:54 pm

      Thanks so much. The most recent Enlightens haven’t been quite as photogenic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: