Friday 16th February; it was the start of the Chinese New Year today and around Circular Quay, where Sydney Harbour bridge stands proudly across from the iconic Sydney Opera House landmark, the area is preparing for the celebrations, which are advertised for later in the evening.
Large inflatable sculptures of animals depicting the Chinese zodiac are emerging. These are bright and colourful and are scattered around the bay area. It is the Year of the Dog and this sculpture has pride of place on the forecourt of the Opera House. To enhance the celebration there is a large guide dog for the blind and many smaller ones, which have been decorated by residents, offices and schools. There is a competition for the favourite dog and a prize to be won.
I particularly like the Year of the Rabbit installation, which represents the year that my lovely husband was born. It is a set of eight inflatable rabbits in bright colours demonstrating Tai Chi.. All the rabbits are positioned in the same posture as if they are practising their moves in a class.
As I sat and watched; the interaction between the sculptures and the public was a joy to behold. They mirrored the stance of the rabbits and posed in front of them, as if too, they were members of the class. The artist explained in the accompanying notes that she wanted this to happen and it worked very well. Even my lovely husband, who is a third Dan martial artist, took part and mimicked the rabbits’ pose.
My Chinese animal is the horse and I was eager to see what this sculpture would look like. I was not disappointed. It was based on the terracotta warriors who were found in Xian in China. Hundreds of clay soldier statues were uncovered by archaeologists and many of them rode chariots pulled by horses. The four magnificent horses are depicted with their hooves raised in the air, as if they are straining to gallop. It was lovely.
Other animals were a giant tiger sitting on a rooftop, a serpent suspended underneath a railway bridge, and two cockerels picking at imaginary food. The year of the monkey was represented by three monkeys showing the famous see no evil hear no evil speak no evil. There was a rather fat ram or sheep and a set of mice, which represented the year of the rat.
Outside the Contemporary Art gallery sat a huge dragon, which was in keeping with the contemporary feel. Its tongue was sticking out and a child holding, what looked like an apple, was sitting on the end of it! A modern look at an ancient mythical creature.
It was also interesting to see that two exhibits were a little different. An ox, which like the pig sculpture, was not made from a balloon material but looked like marble tiles that would be found on a game of Ma-Jong.
All in all, the area was exciting, and I enjoyed strolling around the quayside and stopping at each sculpture and reading the thoughts of the artists as they explained their ideas for each sculpture.
I also looked forward to the evening show, where apparently the inflatables would be lit up and a firework display was also to be held to greet the New Year.