Sydney Opera House – Lighting the Sails @ Vivid Sydney 2017

Sydney Opera House – Lighting the Sails @ Vivid Sydney 2017


Sydney creative Director Ash Bolland gives life to a modern Micrographia at this years Sydney Opera House Lighting the Sails – a key part of Vivid 2017

I always see the Opera House as shells. People call them sails but I don’t see sails at all. To me it looks like a very organic, repetitive structure. That’s what I love about nature, the repetition, by repeating the same thing something simple becomes really complex.” ……………………. Ash Bolland



To me the Opera House looks like a very organic, repetitive structure. That’s what I love about nature, the repetition.” ……….. Ash Bolland



In 1957 when Jørn Utzon’s design for the Sydney Opera House was first revealed to the public, the report by The Sydney Morning Herald quoted one person who likened the Danish architect’s vision to “something which might have crawled up from the ocean.”

60 years later, a giant sea creature is exactly what Sydney is going to get.

Underwater squid-like marine life is prominent in the kaleidoscope of images that twist and buckle in Audio Creatures, the name for 2017’s Lighting of the Sails that is the glowing centerpiece of Vivid, Sydney’s festival of light, music and ideas.

Essentially the idea is taking the Opera House and making the whole building turn into something that produces audio and is organic,” says Ash Bolland, the Sydney creative responsible for Audio Creatures along with celebrated Brazilian sound designer Amon Tobin.

I’ve always been interested in nature and its relation to what’s made by humankind. How do we meet in the middle? What destruction occurs between the two?

Making things come alive has been a through-line of Bolland’s career – his distinctive advertising campaigns for HBO and MTV saw his clients’ lettered logos transmogrify into creatures that seem to combine insects, plants and alien beings.

The Opera House’s sails provide a formidable canvas, but to Bolland’s eye the building is already a living organism.

A particular obsession for Bolland as he created Audio Creatures has been a book called Micrographia, published in 1665 and filled with drawings showing microscopic details of insects, animals, minerals and plants.

Its creator, Robert Hooke, had invented the first microscope that resembled the modern instrument.

Hooke’s drawings of fly eyes and the details of bird feathers, according to a foreword in a recent reproduction, set the standard for 200 years.


It’s mind-blowing, There are nautilus shells – a recurring theme of his work – and seed pods that get more and more more intriguing the closer you look. There’s also a miniature sculpture of the Opera House. ” …………… said Ash Bolland of Hooke’s hyper-detailed drawings, one of many books that fill the shelves of his studio in Sydney’s Chippendale, along with films, artworks and odds and ends.




About Ash Bolland

Ash Bolland is a 40 year old New Zealand-born commercial director

Born in New Zealand, he left school when he was just 14 to play in bands.

His first work as a director was making a music video for his teenage friends, giving him an early taste for crafting stories for the screen.

He not only works as a director, but has also served as cinematographer, editor, 3D artist, compositor, concept designer, graphic designer, colorist and musician, all completely self-taught.

For a decade he was the owner and director of a creative studio called Umeric.

His official bio on Umeric described Ash as …….. “a director who is committed to crafting incredibly unique, sophisticated images that engages the viewer with big, bold cinematic ideas, making the ordinary extraordinary. But, always keeping an authentic sensibility.”

It was here that he conceived HBO’s Unexpected campaign, and created an award-winning campaign called ‘Genetically Modified HD’ for MTV that featured a giant nautilus floating in gritty urban locations and, seemingly, laying eggs like a upending bag of marbles.

It saw Boland named as a finalist at the Shots New Director Award in 2011.




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