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Nelson’s favourite light show on the Church Steps returns

Nelson’s favourite light show on the Church Steps returns for all 11 evenings of the 2019 Nelson Arts Festival

It’s been eight years since Piki Mai wowed Nelsonians with its breath-taking projections on the Church Steps. Now it’s back, in a creative partnership between Light Nelson and Nelson Arts Festival, as the perfect way to celebrate the Festival’s 25th anniversary.

Key Dates:
- Wed 7 August Full programme announce for the 2019 Nelson Arts Festival
- 18 – 28 October Nelson Arts Festival 2019
- Friday 18 October Mask Parade & Carnivale
- 18 – 28 October Pic’s Piki Mai – every evening from dusk to midnight

This year, the 25th Nelson Arts Festival will open with a massive triple whammy of FREE outdoor events – the Mask Parade & Carnivale and Pic’s Piki Mai – the best way to get the party started!

Piki Mai is an audio-visual artwork projected on the Church Steps, creating breath-taking illusions that transform the Cathedral tower, steps, pillars and every feature of our city’s centrepiece granite monument. Piki Mai has been created using digital mapping, which means that the projections are created specifically for the site, incorporating every feature of the tower and steps, and making for a 3-D extravaganza.

Way more than a slideshow on a flat canvas, Piki Mai turns the monument into a vibrant pulsing wall of colour and movement. Images of Nelson's past are brought to life as the Boulder Bank forms, cathedrals rise and fall, war precedes prosperity, rockets fly and time is warped right in front of the audience.

As the hill overlooking Whakatū, Piki Mai (‘climb here’) has always been important for its natural vantage point, and now the intricate and sophisticated projections allow us to see it in a whole new light. First shown at the 2011 Nelson Arts Festival, Piki Mai’s creative team – Michael Hodgson, Chris Macmillan and Dan Mace – have added in some new elements to entertain and surprise this year’s audience. Piki Mai will run on a 15-minute rotation, allowing for people to come and go as they please between dusk and midnight every evening of the Festival from 18-28 October.

Because Piki Mai is such a big undertaking, Light Nelson and Nelson Arts Festival are working in a unique partnership to present the project, made possible with generous sponsorship from Pic’s Peanut Butter and funding from Nelson City Council.

Festival Director Charlie Unwin is thrilled that the Festival can present Piki Mai again, saying, “Piki Mai is one of those events that people keep talking about and asking why it can’t come back – and finally, we’ve managed to align all the different elements for the return of Nelson’s favourite large-scale outdoor projection. We’re also really excited to be able to include a few new elements.”

Bronwyn Monopoli, who chairs the Light Nelson Trust, says, “Light Nelson is delighted to be working in partnership with Nelson Arts Festival to bring Piki Mai back to the Church Steps. Light Nelson is all about bringing the special quality of light to illuminate our minds, our lives, the environment and the darkness of the night. Piki Mai tells our story in a totally unique way, connecting our community, and those who visit Nelson from elsewhere during the Festival, with our history.”

As both the event sponsor and a member of the Nelson Festivals Trust Board, Pic Picot is equally enthusiastic about Piki Mai, “While I love the weird and wonderful shows the Festival brings to town, its heart has always been the Mask Parade & Carnivale – a street party that we all get to throw for our friends and neighbours. With Piki Mai firing up straight after the Carnivale and rolling right through the Festival, we not only get an unmissable free show, but the party in Trafalgar Street gets to keep going for two whole weeks.”

Councillor Gaile Noonan, Chair of the Community Services Committee, says that Piki Mai has a special place in Nelson’s history of free arts events, “Many of us remember how awesome Piki Mai was in 2011. Free outdoor events such as Piki Mai are the perfect setting for us to come together as a community, and really celebrate something special. I'm excited to see Piki Mai being shown again and I'm already looking forward to the Festival. It's the marker Nelsonians and visitors look for between winter and spring.”

Chair of Nelson Festivals Trust, Brent Thawley, says that re-presenting Piki Mai was in response to community voice. “Over the last year we did considerable consultation into what our community wanted from their Festival, and two things immediately and consistently came to the fore: reinvigorate the Mask Parade, and increase the visibility of the Festival within the CBD. We’re pleased to be able to react so positively to the feedback, and we anticipate that tens of the thousands of people will come to central city to see the return of Piki Mai.”

Nelson Arts Festival is also working with NMIT, giving the challenge to design students to create their own Piki Mai Remap Project. This one-night showcase of students’ work will be projected, for all to see, on Friday 25th October at 9pm. Adding to the specialness of the occasion, Pitch Black – aka DJs Michael Hodgson and Paddy Free – will be playing live on the Church Steps, synching their electronic music with the visuals of Piki Mai, the Remap Project, and their own video stock.

Piki Mai is a great way to see our city in a new light, and because it’s free with plenty of space for everyone, the Festival is encouraging everyone to bring their whole whānau!

Pic’s Piki Mai
- 18–28 October, dusk to midnight on a continuous 15-minute loop
- Nelson Christ Church Cathedral and Church Steps
- Best vantage point from the top of Trafalgar Street
- Road closures will be in place every night from 9pm until late to accommodate people wanting to see Piki Mai

Piki Mai’s creatives are:
Video by Michael Hodgson, Chris Macmillan and Dan Mace
Sound design by Michael Hodgson
Research by Michaela Blackman

Nelson Arts Festival is one of Nelson’s favourite annual events, attracting thousands of people to see its programme of shows, events, talks, workshops and Mask Parade & Carnivale.

Images for Piki Mai: Dropbox link to Piki Mai images


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