LUMA lights up Queenstown for a fourth year

Thousands of people and 34 unique light installations filled every nook and cranny of the Queenstown Gardens for LUMA’s light festival over Queens Birthday weekend.

LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman Duncan Forsyth said visitor numbers were slightly up on last year, with well over 50,000 people exploring the free multi-sensory event, illuminated by lights, gnomes and a little bit of magic. 

“We were just stoked with everything from the performance pieces to the signature installations; it was another incredible year full of diversity,” he says.

LUMA Southern Light Project’s new initiative ‘Adopt-a-Gnome’ provisionally raised over $25,000, which will fund an emerging artist to create an installation for next year’s festival.

Thirty beautifully crafted fibreglass-concrete gnomes were transformed into mini works of art by some of New Zealand’s top artists.

They were an extremely popular feature on display in ‘Gnome Alley’ during LUMA and were auctioned on Trade Me.

Bidding on the gnomes intensified throughout the four-day event and culminated in the highest bids being made for Mossy Gnome by Dick Frizzell at $3010 and Elemental by Jenny Mehrtens at $2700.

Duncan says the 250 people involved with the festival’s delivery worked tirelessly, with many LUMAteers being first-year helpers. 

“We rely heavily on funding and volunteers to bring LUMA to life, and although we deliver an amazing event it’s hard work for everyone involved.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of our incredible community, partners, community funding and donations.”

Crowds were greeted by an Angus Muir Design installation called ‘Tilt’ which saw a geometric themed lit up colonnade luring spectators into the wonderful world of LUMA.

There were lights around every corner, lining the footpaths, in the trees, along branches and even in the water.

An installation by ‘Creature’ gave viewers a look into what could be beneath the cold depths of the Queenstown Gardens’ pond with ‘Monstrum Marinum’.

Moving images of a Taniwha, Loch Ness Monster, Jaws and more were projected onto the water’s surface.

Among the installations around 40 performers dazzled crowds, from fairies to gold miners and tree dancers – it was nothing short of a spectacle.

“The performances added one more piece to the puzzle for us and it’s something we intend to continue with, we’re not sure in what fashion, but we have plenty of ideas already,” says Duncan.

LUMA would like to thank its principal partners including Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Lakes Trust, Mainfreight, Tom Tom, SILO, Summit Events and Angus Muir Design.

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Performers take centre stage at LUMA

From fairies to gold miners and tree dancers – around 40 performers will dazzle and delight during Queenstown’s LUMA as the festival evolves its sensory experiences.

 The festival’s Performance Director and Curator Emma Vickers, says the introduction of more performance aspects will “engage the audience on another level”.

“If visitors can connect visually, emotionally and physically with live performance, it enhances the overall performance of the festival.”

She speaks from experience – her performance and production work has taken her all over the world with management jobs in prestigious events such as Splore Festival, Tuki Festival and Rhythm and Alps.

Choreographer Amber Stephens, who boasts an eclectic resume across several visual and kinetic genres from dance and choreography to film, music, painting and photography says audiences will be taken on a “magical journey”.

We’re excited to present another dimension to experience and to include local community groups and schools,” she says.

“Expect to be surprised, to be delighted, to see the Gardens in a new perspective, to see the rose gardens in a new, fresh way; there’s a little spiritual element to it too.”

Festival Trust Chairman Duncan Forsyth agrees that LUMA is ‘upping the ante’ with performances at this year’s event, being held over Queens Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3) in the Queenstown Gardens.

“Every year there’s something new because we’re changing and evolving, we’re upping this year’s performance levels, everything from theatre to dance, as we evolve into more of a full sensory arts festival.

“It’s like launching a new art gallery each year that’s always going to be different.”

There will be two distinct performance zones within the Gardens, bringing together visual and aural installations.

The Rose Garden area or ‘Fairy Wonderland’ will feature Millie Begley from Flame Entertainment with her fairies, Theresa Swain’s young ballerinas from the Wakatipu Conservatoire of Ballet and young contemporary dancers from Amber Stephens Dance Collective – perfect for the kids.

The ‘Forest Zone’ is a nod to Queenstown’s gold mining past and the characters who lived during that time. Dancers are set to invoke the spirit of the forest including animals and elements of land and lake. 

Performances in this zone are choreographed by Amber for her own dance collective and The Remarkables Theatre Group, Chloe Loftus for her Arboreal Dancers, alongside a collaboration of Auckland’s Nocturnal group and Plant Contemporary Dance bringing multi-sensory design art.

It also features live, original music from local busker AJ Hickling and Mike Hodgson alongside a sound score including music by Paddy Free and Richard Nunns – iconic New Zealand electronic and Maori instrument sound artists.

“People need to make sure they go on a journey to all the different places, dress warm, bring children along and because there’s so much to see even plan to come on a couple of different nights. Don’t rush it,” Amber says. 

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Queenstown’s light festival LUMA funds emerging artists with Gnome Project

An award-winning light festival in Queenstown which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year, has gone gnome-mad.

 Queenstown’s LUMA Southern Light Project, from May 31 to June 3, will be ‘gnome sweet gnome’ to around 30 of the legendary little garden creatures.

But in true LUMA style there’s a twist to this tale – they’ve been lovingly transformed into mini works of art by some of New Zealand’s top artists.

 In the build up to and throughout LUMA, the fibreglass-concrete gnomes are being auctioned off through TradeMe as part of an ‘Adopt-a-Gnome’ programme, raising funds for an emerging young artist to work on an installation for next year’s event.

Art lovers and businesses from around New Zealand are being encouraged to liberate a gnome through the auction. Before LUMA lights up Queenstown, some of the gnomes are on display at the new Macomos art gallery at Five Mile Centre.

During LUMA, part of the Queenstown Gardens will be transformed into ‘gnome man’s land’ with an area dubbed ‘Gnome Alley’, showcasing their transformation.

The brief for the artists was broad – they could decorate, pull apart or incorporate the gnomes into a larger piece of art, and were generally encouraged to go gnome crazy! Resene Paints jumped on board as a sponsor with primer, paints and a clear glaze to ensure the gnomes survive chilly winter nights in the garden, and the project is also supported by the Queenstown Lakes District Creative Communities Scheme and local landscape company Patch Landscape.

Due to the notoriety of runaway (or liberated!) gnomes, they’ll be kept under lock and key at the end of each evening during LUMA.

Each artist will have their name featured alongside their gnome – including luminaries such as Tony O’Keefe, Ben Ho and Mary Mai of Queenstown, Jenny Mehrtens of Arrowtown, Dick Frizzell of Auckland and many more.

Tony Cribb of Christchurch has designed an ice-cream gnome called ‘Gnome in a Cone’ with its hat painted as a cone and its legs and body looking suspiciously like a goody-goody-gum-drops ice cream.

Astro is a seasoned ‘astrognome’ who’s completed over 200 missions as part of the gnome colonisation space programme. Flint is a homeless gnome looking for a loving family (anyone?) while Mossy Gnome from artist Dick Frizzell is apparently the oldest of all the garden gnomes.

‘The Highwayman SH6’ is a time stealer who works tirelessly to hold up all the good people of Queenstown (something of an ‘in-joke’ gnome), while a familiar-looking Minbot is the oldest known gnominion.

LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman Duncan Forsyth predicts the gnomes will be the “sure fire hit” of this year’s event.

“We did tell the artists that ‘anything goes’ for their gnome makeover and they haven’t disappointed us,” he says.

“We’ve had some pretty serious expressions of interest already from art lovers who are ‘in the know’ and are proud to bid on a gnome so they can help us fully fund an emerging artist to develop, construct and exhibit a new piece of artwork for LUMA20.

“Who knows where some of them will end up!”

The Adopt A Gnome auction is underway on TradeMe and finishes on Tuesday June 4 at midday. All gnomes can be viewed on the LUMA website where there is a link to TradeMe.

Now in its fourth year, around 50,000 people are expected to brave chilly winter nights to go on a sensory journey through the gardens and around the Queenstown Bay waterfront.

LUMA Southern Light Project and the LUMA Light Festival Trust are very proudly supported by the Central Lakes Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown law firm Anderson Lloyd.

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Queenstown schools step it up to support award-winning light experience LUMA

Hundreds of primary and high school students from around Queenstown are adding their own special touch to the multi-award-winning LUMA Southern Light Project.

The countdown is on to four evenings of illuminated art, light sculptures and entertainment in the Queenstown Gardens over Queen’s Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3).

Community participation, collaboration and support is a key driver for organisers of the event – now in its fourth year and expected to attract over 50,000 people who brave winter nights to immerse themselves in the light and sound spectacular.

And for over 250 students whose work will be on display it’s the culmination of months of hard work and creative effort on their collaborative installations.

The person with the biggest job of all is Wakatipu High School (WHS) technology teacher and LUMA school liaison co-ordinator Rebecca Lund.

She has brought together students not only from WHS but from Queenstown, Remarkables and Shotover Country primary schools to work with the theme ‘Lanterns’.

With sustainability in mind though, the theme has a twist — students all have to use recycled materials.

Plenty of plumbing of all shapes and sizes (even sewage pipes) have been repurposed for the works, after students were tasked with finding plumbers, construction and project managers willing to donate materials for them to transform.

Media students at the high school have also been able to get involved again this year, introducing an element of sound to the school pieces encouraging people to interact with the artworks by finding sound-sensitive buttons to press in conjunction with the light elements.

“The students are as excited as they can be because they’re presenting their work not just to our schools’ community but to thousands more visitors and locals at LUMA,” says Rebecca.

“Because of the ‘soundscape’ element of the installation it’s meant we can be more cross-curricular than ever before, involving more than 70 students from the high school alone.”

For the first time the WHS Art Department has dedicated a Scheme of Work to the LUMA project and created a ‘cityscape’ using clay. Under the watchful eye of teacher Abbey Brown, students have learned how to handle, bisque fire and glaze clay structures.

“I sometimes wonder why I sign up for this year after year, but when I see the end result and how proud students and their families are, it’s all worth it,” says Rebecca.

Over the past two months, LUMA director Simon Holden has been coming into schools to give authentic stakeholder feedback on student ideas and concepts.

“Students have found that pretty challenging but have accepted the challenge,” says Rebecca. “It’s a valuable lesson for them to learn that this is the way things happen out in the real world. I really value the fact that this is an amazing authentic project.

“It has actual stakeholders that students have to listen to and adapt their work accordingly depending on feedback.”

Another ‘first’ for WHS students is the chance to help in the set-up of their works, working on site with technicians to install their creations before the crowds arrive.

LUMA Light Festival Trust chairman Duncan Forsyth says the level of involvement from local schools is a key element of community initiatives and engagement, aligning with the Trust’s core values.

“These students work so hard each year and we’re as thrilled as they are to see their work literally come to life over the LUMA weekend,” he says.

LUMA Southern Light Project and the LUMA Light Festival Trust are very proudly supported by the Central Lakes Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown law firm Anderson Lloyd.

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