Black night festival of fluoro fun for Ballan

BLUE POLES: In a workshop with local artist Lou Callow, Ballan cubs and joeys created the work Totem Poles using fluoro paper, black texta and highlighter pens on cardboard rolls for the first Black Nite Black Lite event last year.
BLUE POLES: In a workshop with local artist Lou Callow, Ballan cubs and joeys created the work Totem Poles using fluoro paper, black texta and highlighter pens on cardboard rolls for the first Black Nite Black Lite event last year.

A fluorescent glow will overtake Ballan next week when the second Black Nite Black Lite takes place across the longest stretches of darkness.

The windows of more than 30 shops and buildings along the town’s main street will be decorated with glow-in-the-dark artworks from creators of all ages from tiny tots to nationally renowned artists.

“Everything will glow in the dark – some will glow in the black light and some will have ordinary light on them but it will be up to the individual artists to create what they want,” said organiser Sarah Peckham.

For a week from June 16 to June 23 the town will light up each night from 5.30pm to 10pm.

The first Black Nite Black Lite festival last year attracted more than 1000 people to the town, far more than the 200 that organisers had hoped for.

“We had no idea that many people would come,” Ms Peckham said.

The town-wide festival arose from members of the Wombat Regional Arts Network who were keen to experiment with glow-in-the-dark paint.

“A few people had been to White Night in Melbourne and gone ‘wow’ but had not really taken the step forward in thinking that we could do that,” Ms Peckham said.

“We had some fluorescent glow paint and fabric which we were mucking around with, but we couldn’t see what it was like because we were doing it in daylight.

The network had been running workshops in Ballan Primary School’s art room and took their fluoro works in to a store room with a black light.

“We turned the light on and all these things became fluorescent on the shelf – ping pong balls, tennis balls, computer paper, our clothes – and one of our members said we have to share this.”

So the idea for Black Night was born. Artists conducted workshops with schools, kindergartens, child care centres, cubs, scouts and other groups to make hundreds of glowing works.

And the timing of the festival was chosen to run across the equinox.

“It all starts on Saturday June 16 and runs until June 23 because the Wednesday/Thursday night in the middle is the longest night, the solstice,” Ms Peckham said.

“That’s when the nights start getting shorter and the days start getting longer – the mid-winter – and we can celebrate how nice it is.”

Ms Peckham said the entire Ballan community had embraced the winter festival – right down to shopkeepers donating the electricity to illuminate the art in their windows.

Opening night activities will be held in the Ballan public hall with the artworks lighting up from 5.30pm on June 16.