A giant Rooster lantern designed by Australian-Chinese duo amigo and amigo is dazzling Sydney Harbour visitors during the 2017 Sydney Chinese New Year Festival.
The lantern, which is taking pride of place outside the Sydney Opera House until 12 February, is celebrating the Year of the Rooster – an animal that loves being the centre of attention.
It is one of two Rooster lantern designs in this year’s Lunar Lanterns exhibition, with the other on display in the festival’s cultural heart in Chinatown. In all, 13 colourful lanterns feature across the city.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the first Lunar Lanterns display was a huge hit last year, attracting more than 750,000 visitors and making it the City of Sydney’s most successful Lunar New Year event to date.
“Roosters are said to be confident, amusing and popular, and they enjoy being the centre of attention – so these spectacular lanterns are right at home outside our iconic Opera House and in the festival’s cultural heart in Chinatown,” the Lord Mayor said.
“I’ve loved seeing the very different designs by these talented Sydney artists, as well as the other zodiac lanterns that have been on show around Sydney Harbour throughout our Chinese New Year celebrations.”
Designed by Simone Chua and Renzo B. Larriviere, the Sydney Opera House lantern features two eight-metre high roosters engaged in a dancing fight, symbolising their strength and courage.
To highlight the roosters’ beauty and confidence, the artists have featured vibrant colours throughout the roosters’ feathers, with gold and red in their tails symbolising good luck.
Simone Chua said their aim was to show the strong, assertive animals in a natural way.
“Their beautiful, brightly colored feathers flutter in the breeze, adding movement to the dance they are doing. People will want to hug and touch these beautiful, awe-inspiring feathered friends,” Simone said.
“Lunar New Year encourages family and friends to get together, so it was important to create a space that inspires people to gather around.
“This is one of the biggest projects we have ever undertaken. Having our work exhibited at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival is a real privilege. We’re still pinching ourselves.
“The project has enabled Renzo and myself to explore our own Chinese heritage and the cultural traditions, which will leave a lasting impression on our own Lunar New Year celebrations.”
Renzo B. Larriviere said designing the rooster lantern had been a very educational creative process.
Renzo said: “My mother’s knowledge of feng shui was particularly helpful for me in incorporating Chinese culture into the design.
“It was a very engaging way to rediscover that cultural side of my family history.”
As part of the Lunar Lanterns exhibition, amigo and amigo have also debuted a spectacular 27-metre long snake lantern that is suspended under the Cahill Expressway.
Renzo said the golden snake represents the majesty of Chinese New Year, bringing wisdom and good fortune.
“The overlapping scales of the snake make the light shift depending on the angle from which you view it, giving the impression of undulating movement – so characteristic of this enigmatic zodiac sign,” he said.
The golden scales were inspired by real snakes, and the designers drew upon the traditional art of Chinese kite making to create a snake that appears to fly above the ground below from a great height.
The scales represent prosperity and wealth, while the eyes feature an inverted ‘Fu’ symbol, representing good luck for the coming year.
A second Rooster lantern in Chinatown by artist, Tianli Zu, features five pentatonic roosters that are contemporary in design but based on traditional Chinese materials and culture.
Set in the middle of Dixon Street, with the tallest standing at 3.8-metres, the roosters are constructed from traditional Chinese musical instruments in five Chinese elemental colours – green, red, yellow, white and black.
Each rooster’s body is a large gong, with a cymbal for the head, a bell as its wattle, panpipes for its comb, flutes for its back and legs and piccolos for its feet.
Adding to the multi-sensory experience, a musical score composed by the artist’s 19-year-old son and composer, Andrew Zhou, plays periodically at night.
Tianli Zu’s magnificent 10-metre high mahjong tile Ox lantern debuted for the 2016 festival, and has returned this year at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Another exciting new artist in this year’s lineup is Guo Jian, whose Rat lantern at Customs House features 11 brightly coloured rats dressed in glamourous showgirl-inspired outfits dancing on top of a rainbow.
The Lunar Lanterns have been on display throughout the 17 days of this year’s festival, creating a trail from the Sydney Opera House, through Circular Quay, to Dawes Point.
The Lunar Lanterns exhibition is one of more than 80 events in this year’s Festival schedule.
Download the Sydney Culture Walks app for a fun, easy way to navigate the Lunar Lanterns.
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