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Review: Exxopolis, Sydney Opera House

We took a trip to the City on Friday afternoon to check out the inflatables outside the Sydney Opera House which are in situ until the 27 January as part of the Summer At The House season.

The structure, named Exxopolis, is a giant, maze-like sculpture that its designers Architects of Air call a luminaria. The idea is for you to journey through a labyrinth of tunnels experiencing the different light and colour effects conditioned by the weather outside.

You have to pre book tickets so we arrived early for our 4pm slot, leaving enough time for a jug of Pimms while the kids played in the ‘pop-up’ sandpit by the ‘pop-up’ bar outside the Opera House. Genius.

But despite prebooking we still had to wait approximately 15 minutes to get into our 4pm time slot. Not ideal with a busy toddler and an impatient preschooler on a very hot day.

The entry system was uber-organised. But it felt a bit militant. Every pair of shoes had to go into its own compartment, even the sleeping baby’s. I was told so it would make the head count easier…

You start the journey by entering an air lock /holding lounge and the guide explains that it is a silent space and that the children must be quiet and are not allowed to climb up/slide down the walls. My kids are screaming at this point so I get ‘the look’ from the guide.

We enter the first tunnel and the first thing they do is run up the walls and slide down. You can’t blame them. The spaces look like the inside of a giant bouncy castle. I wanted to do the same.

The spaces are awesome. A maze of beautiful colours infused with incredible light which create some great photo effects. My doctor friend, who accompanied me, described it as like being inside a human body. A great simile as the some of the internal structures were like capillaries and the heart valves. One cavernous blue room with patterned trianglular ‘windows’ reminded me of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro with its huge stain-glassed windows.

Despite the wait and the slightly militant staff, (sorry I know you are only doing your jobs), it is well worth a trip… if you can control your children for 20 minutes. Visits are limited to 20 minutes. Another criteria but to be honest it’s all the time you need with kids. I may make another trip on my own and sit in peace and enjoy the splendour that can be created by colour and light and enjoy the beautiful peace.

Further information:

Architects of Air – Exxopolis

03 January 2014 – 27 January 2014

Venue: Forecourt, Sydney Opera House
Presented by: Sydney Opera House in association with Insite Arts


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