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Switched on: Art in the Dark review

Art in the Dark is an illuminating, landmark event, initially inspired by student artist Celia Harrison in 2010. Her clever initiative has become one of Auckland City’s most interactive leading light exhibitions.

This year’s event was well-organised, not to mention rather spectacular. Each year, Art in the Dark is open and free to the public.

Held annually at Western Park in Ponsonby, the exhibition ran from November 13-17 and attracted over 50,000 visitors. A must-see, the exhibition is best seen in reality and not in reproduction.

You can expect to view a variety of installations in a park-like setting during evening hours. This is one venue that does require you to wear sensible footwear and warm clothes.

The exhibition opens at 8pm each night, and discovering in the dark most definitely optimised the experience. In fact, twilight conditions can marginalise full enjoyment as this show is all about contrast.

Adelle Rodda, Education Leader for Art in the Dark, says: “This event really attracts a huge cross-section of people and it kind of appeals to everyone, little kids running around and adults. Even people coming out of town for it.”

Art in the Dark is a dynamic community event and is also a fine example of creativity boasted in many dimensions. It’s a refreshing concept for all, viewing art outdoors – a nice change from the usual gallery context.

Rodda says: “We always show in Western Park. It’s such a beautiful park, such a lovely setting. We see the little kids up late having such a great time. We don’t have food vendors on-site, that’s part of our waste minimisation thing, but there are so many places around Ponsonby. People make a night of it.”

The materials used for each installation need to be sustainable and recyclable. This means you may be surprised at what you see upon arrival. The choice of materials is important as it links to the core values of Art in the Dark.

The event takes a bold approach, and according to one youngster at the event, it was “better than birthdays”.

You don’t have to be a fine artist to take part. Art in the Dark welcomes proposals from: Spatial designers, fine artists, engineers, audio specialists and performance artists.

The effect of this collaboration makes for a sensory experience. Viewing the work in the dark is quite a challenge. You do need to watch your footing – all part of the fun and the outdoor challenge.

However, be ready to meet throngs of people as the site is busy. As it’s dark you need to exercise patience and courtesy, particularly around accessing and viewing the installations.

This year the weather presented some challenges, with Saturday night nearly cancelled due to heavy rain. As a result, Sunday attracted larger crowds and it was encouraging to see so many families out and about.

For more information visit

Listen to what the public had to say about the event below:

Keren Cook
Keren is currently working as a casual presenter at NZME and freelancing as a journalist and Director and voice over-artist. She recently project-managed New Zealand's Jewish Online Museum, and co-hosts a regular show at Planet FM.
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