Top ten: the insider’s guide to the Vivid Sydney festival

Top ten: the insider’s guide to the Vivid Sydney festival

May 22-June 8

Site: Yeong Sassall

Image: Vivid Sydney

Kicking off tonight with over 60 art installations on the schedule, this year’s Vivid Sydney is packed with sensory and cerebral treats galore. But with so many events on offer – how do you know which ones to attend?

Most Sydneysiders will agree that it's hard to miss Vivid each year. Not only does the entire city light up in brilliant kaleidoscopic colour for a two and half weeks, the festival of light, music and ideas brings together some of the most creative and fertile minds the globe has to offer. That said, the full schedule is immense, so we asked Vivid Ideas Curator Jess Scully to give us a personalised edit of the festival highlights. Here's her top ten:

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1. Modulations: Grace Jones at Carriageworks

"Grace Jones is one of those rare icons - influential across disciplines, she's a pioneer in music and her aesthetic has shaped film, music video and fashion globally. She's the perfect distillation of everything Vivid Sydney is about! I can't wait to see her perform in a venue as raw and intimate as Carriageworks."

Carriageworks, Sydney, May 31-June 2 at 8pm,

2. Royal Headache (in concert with Blank Realm/Exhaustion & Kris Wanders/Superstar/ Snake & Friends/Monica Brooks)

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"I love these guys: a Sydney band that combines a shambolic garage sound with a raw romantic sensibility. They're honest and funny, and fled the hype around their debut album in 2011 - so they've barely performed since. So seeing them playing at the Sydney Opera House is going to be a rare treat."

Sydney Opera House, May 23 at 7pm,

3. Vivid Ideas: Future of Work

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This is such a crucial conversation - how can the three sectors of the economy, being the business, creative industry and social impact sectors - learn from each other, and be prepared for the disruptions and shifts ahead? We're moving towards a portfolio career as individuals, and in business, an approach that the New York Times calls the "Hollywood model" - all of us assembling crews for projects, rather than working traditional jobs. Essential for anyone who wants to lead and thrive in business."

Pyrmont & the Star, June 4 at 8.30am,

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4. #NOFILTER: The Creativity Of Youth

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"I'm fascinated by the way young people build community online: this session brings together high-profile Australian YouTube and Instagram stars to share how they generate buzz and build engagement. How have these young influences managed to create passionate communities around their social media streams - and what can brands, communicators and marketers learn from them?"

Circular Quay, May 24 at 12pm,

5. Game-Changers: Matthew Weiner

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"Matthew Weiner has been instrumental in two of the greatest TV shows of all time [Mad Men and The Sopranos] - so I know storytellers will have so many questions for him! I'm also interested in his approach as a creative leader, as the showrunner and creator of a show like Mad Men: how do you stimulate genuine collaboration and get the best out of a team? How do you achieve a coherent and distinctive vision while drawing on the strengths of many? A must for all creative workers or passionate fans."

Sydney Town Hall, May 31 at 5.30pm,

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6. Hyundai's Casey Hyun On Design Driven Brand Transformation

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"Casey Hyun is an Australian industrial designer who works for Hyundai. His talk goes into the process behind creating a brand - from engineering to lights design. I think that's really useful for a lot of people, because design isn't just making things look good, it's about making things functional, responsive and user-centric.  I think this is relevant to a whole lot of different brands and businesses."

Museum of Contemporary Art, June 1 at 5pm,

7. In Conversation: Great Australian Songwriters

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"This really fun event if basically getting a whole bunch of songwriters from different styles and generations to talk about the craft of writing songs - we've got Megan Washington, Mick Harvey [The Bad Seeds], Dave Faulkner [Hoodoo Gurus] and Shane Nicholson [Pretty Violet Stain]. Megan Washington is a really interesting, engaging and very honest person - so I think that should be a fascinating session."

Studios 301 Alexandria, June 2 at 6pm,

Related story: Dreaming in technicolour: Rebecca Baumann's vivid installations 

8. Streets Ahead

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"Almost like a mini festival within Vivid Ideas, Streets Ahead is an installation of streetwear and street art as an industry. Australia used to be a global leader in streetwear - with brands like Billabong, Roxy, Ksubi and Insight - but our lifestyle has changed and now we've kind of lost it. Streets Ahead brings together global leaders in streetwear and street art who have built these really passionate and engaged foundations to look at what can we learn from them in terms of retail. It's an exhibition, two public talk nights and a business conference."

Central Park, May 26-31,

9. The Nautilus And The Sea

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"Chatswood is a precinct this year and I think a lot of people are surprised that Vivid would come there. But the experience that's being created here is unlike anything else - basically, we're turning the whole centre, downtown walk and mall and turning into an underwater world. You'll come off the train and suddenly the whole space will feel under the sea! The people behind the animation is a small Sydney firm called Ample Projects - they're the ones who did the tree in Martin Place last year."

Chatswood, May 22-June 8 at 6pm-11pm,

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10. Learn To Program and Invent Your Own Vivid Sydney Technology - For Students

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"These are a bunch of sessions that are really  hands-on - they're about learning to code and use the kind of technology that power the installations at things like Vivid Light. There's a couple of sessions on Saturday June 6 that are about using a Galileo micro-computer - with sessions for teachers and students because really we need to see more of this creative engagement with technology in classrooms."

Museum of Contemporary Art, June 6 at 12pm, 

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