Lumière lights up downtown Sydney

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SYDNEY — Art lovers and curious onlookers jammed downtown streets Saturday evening for the third annual art at night festival known as Lumière: Contemporary Art, Unconventional Spaces.

Under clear skies with a warm breeze blowing thousands wandered in an out of nooks and crannies along Charlotte Street and around parts of the Esplanade where more than 30 projects where available for interpretation and admiration.

"The concept is about self portrait and how artists have projected themselves in self portraits throughout the history of art like Van Gogh, and Picasso, Rembrandt," said Gerard Kelly, while standing near a monitor displaying various forms of his own face.

"All these artists have projected themselves in a way that they have contrived. They wanted to project themselves in a certain way to the public and that is what they have done and so this is a pun on that."

Kelly's projection of himself was on a monitor that resembled a picture frame, and cropped so that it resembled a self portrait.

Numerous other artists put some of themselves into the art, although not always as obvious as Kelly's method.

The audience was also brought into some of the projects, as well, which was the case with the Calgary artists who brought 'Sophie Farewell' to Sydney.

"We have two scissor lifts we've disguised as a moon and a mountain," said Heather Kai-Smith, at the base of one of the pieces of industrial equipment that towered above Charlotte Street.

"At the top of each there is a town crier who reads messages from the crowd below. So you can say anything you want and the town crier has to say it."

Though the group is from out of town, they hired local actors and community members to act as the town criers.

"The best messages are from little kids, but it is interesting to see the range of messages. It is a little bit of everything with some repeats, but it is amazing actually how many different kinds there are."

The group has taken their project from Nuit Blanche in Calgary to Charlottetown, PEI before coming to Cape Breton.

Their tour will also include stops in Atlanta, Georgia and Halifax in the near future.

Creative Assets from New Waterford pulled audience members from the crowd and directly into the creative process with their project set up near the Esplanade.

"I love the turnout and the youth is what is most impressive," said Angela Riga, while watching over a do-your-own makeup table filled with colours and creative suggestions.

"We didn't think we'd get this many kids coming to make their own creatures, but it has been non-stop."

The New Waterford group was assisted by the Whitney Pier Youth Club members throughout the makeup process.

The youth club members were also helping organize tours of an eco-friendly igloo constructed from 200 water jugs.

"There are Christmas lights inside to give it that pop and we are allowing kids to go in and get their pictures taken because it is not fun unless it is interactive. We want everyone to take part in some way."

Other activities throughout the five hour showcase included a demonstration of acro yoga at the YMCA. The activity blended elements of yoga, acrobatics, performance and healing arts.

Shopfronts, sidewalks and public spaces downtown also featured projects.

Organizations: Whitney Pier Youth Club, YMCA

Geographic location: Sydney, Charlotte Street, Calgary New Waterford Charlottetown Cape Breton.Their Atlanta, Georgia Halifax

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