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13th March 2017

A rich vein of colour and the spirit to mine it: Nathan Curnow reflects on White Night Ballarat 2017

By Nathan Curnow

Photo by Lacey Morgan


40,000 punters on the streets of Ballarat, a new gold rush, except without the gold and without the rush, just all sorts of people enjoying this city as a canvas, theatre and open air gallery.

After performing to a packed midnight show with my friend Geoffrey Williams I got down onto the street to catch the vibe for myself. I'd heard that my poem Red Shawl Flapping was being projected onto the stunning face of the Mining Exchange building, one of the most beautiful buildings we have, and we have many. Sometimes, not often, you write a poem that keeps on giving, usually in very small ways, but there it was, gigantic, projected onto the most colourful page it will ever be published on. And in the company of work by Omar Musa, GT Sewell and Margaret West!

As I write this, the White Night energy can still be felt here. It's palpable. I've never heard such positive talk in the cafes and lunch rooms. Ballarat artists know that drawing an audience sometimes feels like you’re tackling a deeply entrenched cultural obstacle course, and if you asked us beforehand how White Night was going to go, we would have guardedly said: we'll see. Speak to us now and we'll tell you it's like the city woke up to itself, at night. We've found a rich vein of colour and the spirit, it seems, to mine it.

Thanks to Red Room Poetry and The Electric Canvas.


Nathan Curnow is a Red Room Poet republished at White Night Ballarat: Night's of Gold - Poet's Corner.

Nathan Curnow is a highly awarded poet and the winner of the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize.  His work has been widely published both nationally and overseas, and is featured in Best Australian Poems 2008 and 2010 (Black Inc.).  In collaboration with various artists his poetry has also been developed into film, song and visual art.  Read more »