France’s Compagnie Carabosse (read our interview with them here) has provided Adelaide with a transformed Adelaide Botanic Gardens through its fire installation named Fire Gardens at Adelaide Festival, which is on until Sunday night (at time of publishing all sessions have sold out).
Never have we seen the Adelaide Botanic Gardens look so spectacular and probably most of the crowd (myself included) had never been there at night. Fire showed us a side of the gardens most of us had never seen. Beautiful reflections of the fiery orb on the water, the hanging lanterns that upon closer inspection appeared to be singlets wrapped around a more solid structure that transformed the Palm House into a dim lit oasis.
Paths were lit with tiny pots of fire dotted along them. A set of fire-lit arches proved popular with people posing for photos and allowed an opportunity to get closer to and under the fire lit structures whereas the others such as the sphere on the water, were to be admired from a larger distance. Structures big and small were equally impressive. Small globes transformed into small flame holders dotted the Moreton Bay fig trees beautifully.
We also spotted two classical musicians playing hauntingly moving music from their little fire lantern lit tents which were reminiscent of another time and place. However, we were a little confused by the metal bike like structure that appeared to be operating on its own on one side of the gardens. We were not sure how it fit in with the rest of the installation.
While you are told that you can go in any direction once you have had your ticket scanned, it would perhaps be helpful to have a map that indicates which sites of the garden have particular things to see. We were concerned that we may have missed some of the installations.
But Compagnie Carabosse are no stranger to transforming public places having made its fire installations across the world from Stonehenge to the Kremlin. Nor are they strangers to Adelaide having transformed a section of Botanic Park at WOMADelaide a few years ago.
Despite all the odds, luckily Fire Gardens at Adelaide Festival went ahead. Firstly there was consultation about whether it was appropriate and safe to proceed after the unprecedented bushfires that destroyed many towns across Australia. Indeed management of safety concerns was evident with the presence of fire trucks around the outskirts of the Botanic Gardens. Secondly, COVID-19 had organisers on edge and had it been scheduled for one week later it may well have been cancelled (as the Australian Government announced a ban on non-essential gatherings of 500 or more people from Monday 16 March).
Unfortunately, though what could have been the opportunity for a meditative reflection and complete escape from daily life was, to an extent, dampened by the crowds. Fire Gardens at Adelaide Festival takes place over 4 nights and has 4 entry times at half hour intervals between 7:30pm and 9:30pm. We arrived shortly after our 8:30pm time-slot and it appeared that people with 9pm tickets were being permitted to enter at that earlier time, which perhaps only added to the huge crowds inside. We were torn though because it is promising to see such large crowds especially as Adelaide Festival decided to donate all proceeds of Fire Gardens to the Lobethal Bushfire Recovery Fund, the KI Mayoral Relief & Recovery Bushfire Fund and the RSPCA South Australia Bushfire Appeal.
🥐🥐🥐🥐 4 CROISSANTS
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Festival
All remaining sessions for Fire Gardens at Adelaide Festival are now sold out but you may like to check the website in case further tickets or sessions are added.
There remain just 2 days and nights of Adelaide Festival 2020. Check out the program here: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/
Want to read reviews of other Adelaide Festival shows?
You can also read our reviews with Adelaide Festival show artists