Families, tourists and art lovers flock to WA’s gargantuan open air grand finale.
Over 1.4 million people have turned out over the opening weekend of the Perth International Arts Festival to follow the progress of one of Australia’s biggest ever street art events. The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of The Giants drew record crowds all across the city as families, tourists, theatre-goers and music lovers enjoyed the perfect weather and immersed themselves in the intriguing story of an 11-metre high diver and a six-metre high girl.
Speaking at the grand finale at Perth’s waterfront Langley Park, WA Premier Colin Barnett praised the organisers and performers for keeping Perth “spellbound” over three days. “You have made this a wonderful event,” he said, “the event of a lifetime”.
Festival organisers, too, are congratulating themselves on a good job done as huge crowds packed the streets of the CBD with many more watching events from rooftops, balconies and even perched in trees. “This weekend has exceeded all of our high expectations,” Festival Director Jonathan Holloway told Limelight. “It is, perhaps, one of the greatest examples of the ability of arts and festivals to unite and transform cities. I am in awe of the 600 plus people who delivered this weeknd – the true Giants who supported it – and the people who came in massive numbers and with open hearts. This truly is great art for everyone”
The Giants are the brainchild of Royal de Luxe, a French street theatre company founded in 1979 director Jean-Luc Courcoult. Its signature sagas involve story telling on a city-wide scale and have been seen worldwide, but never before in Australia. The giant figures, handled by tens of puppeteers known as the Lilliputians, are intended to “tell our fundamental narratives, those which impress upon the collective imagination”, and Perth’s showing incorporated both an Indigenous element and the Anzac story to create a uniquely West Australian tale.
Friday saw the giant girl searching the streets for the diver (with occasional stops it appeared to relieve herself). Her companion was discovered asleep at the railway station and the following day saw them both roaming the city before coming together by the river on Saturday evening where the littel girl settled down for the night in her friends ample lap. Sunday began with an Anzac service and the last post before the pair were up and off, farewelled in style with exploding tickertape and a final trip down the Swan.
“As you make your last walk around our city… we’ll say goodbye,” said Barnett. “We will say you have made us laugh, cry, captivated us – we are spellbound!”
The Perth International Arts Festival continues until March 7.