Lantern making workshop

Jennie Forster and Annette Rolfe with one of the humanoid lanterns.

The Railway Precinct was a hive of activity this weekend as visiting artist Annette Rolfe held lantern making workshops: for the public on Saturday and Sunday and for McAuley students on Monday.

The lanterns are made from an Indonesian vine called Pahang, green willow which will stiffen into shape by the time the festival rolls around, and tree prunings from the local area.

“For the weekend’s workshop, these ones will stay white and along the ground, and light up one of the pathways, which will be really beautiful,” Ms Rolfe explained.

“With the kids we’re making little triangular and square based pyramids, and they’re going to form part of the opening ceremony at the lantern parade.”

Lanterns on the Lagoon is fast approaching, with the festival this year to be held on Saturday, September 23. The beloved event is organised and run by volunteers – with two exceptions this year, for the first time ever – and is a perennial family favourite.

“Comments we’ve gotten in previous years from families is that it’s just a beautiful day out,” said Ms Rolfe.

“They can just enjoy the space without having to buy anything. People bring picnics, and just come and enjoy the day. We have a lantern decorating tent, which is the milk bottle ones, children can draw pictures, we have people who love to write little messages – some people have lost loved ones and they like to write a message and launch it out on the water.

“These sort of events don’t happen without our beautiful volunteers. Our committee all have their different areas that they’re trying to manage and bring it together. A lot of these people have work or other interests, and they’re still giving up their time.

“We try to put on a free event and the sponsorship money goes to the basics like toilets, prize money…we do try and look out for any opportunities to get some funding throughout the year, and our local businesses are fabulous, they really support the event.”

The day will start at midday, and attendees can wander through the results of the sculpture competition and browse the handmade artisan wares. Then at night Pioneer Park begins to glow, and the milk bottle lanterns are launched.

“The scouts are collecting them again this year, that’s a horrible job sometimes because they’ve got to be washed and cleaned out and they’ve got to be cut, and then during the evening we pop some sand into it, put a little light into it and launch them out into the lagoon,” said Ms Rolfe.

“Then we have our other lanterns that keep everything lit, and the park looking sparkly and beautiful of a night time.”

Lanterns and sculptures from last year, which was unfortunately cancelled due to flooding, will be used in this year’s event.