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Indigenous artists illuminate Sydney Opera House in light festival

Along the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia, an otherworldly archway is covering visitors in cascades of light.

“Cathedral of Light” is only one piece of Vivid Sydney, a festival combining light displays, music and speakers that began Friday and will run through June 18. The festival transformed the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other local landmarks with more than 90 installations, including projections, interactive exhibits, sculptures and performances.

Many of the installations are concentrated around the Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour, with additional pieces on display throughout the city. Last year, more than 1.7 million people attended the festival.

A visitor to the Sydney Botanical Garden's inaugural contribution to the Vivid Sydney light festival takes a picture of the 'Cathedral of Light' during a preview of the annual interactive light installation and projection event around Sydney, Australia May 25, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

A visitor to the Sydney Botanical Garden’s inaugural contribution to the Vivid Sydney light festival takes a picture of the ‘Cathedral of Light’ during a preview of the annual interactive light installation and projection event around Sydney, Australia May 25, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

The festival began with the debut of a 15-minute projection on the Sydney Opera House that was created by a group of Indigenous artists. The piece, “Songlines,” was devised by Rhoda Roberts, head of Indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House.

The process of creating the project, which draws on the interconnected history and relationships between Australia’s Indigenous tribes, was more than just projecting pretty pictures onto the iconic structure, Roberts told The Sydney Morning Herald. “You don’t have the luxury of just slapping up artworks,” she said. “There’s so much protocol and cultural responsibilities for each artist.”

An image of an indigenous Australian man is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2EG7V

An image of an indigenous Australian man is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

British musician Brian Eno curated the festival’s first year in 2009. It was met with some skepticism that first year, but later won over large crowds as it expanded its focus on interactive art.

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The festival inspired the creation of Light City Baltimore, which brought together performers, lighting designers, sound designers and speakers in Baltimore from March 28 to April 3.

See more images of the festival below.

"Synthesis" appears at the Vivid Sydney Festival. Image courtesy of Vivid Sydney

“Synthesis,” an installation covering a tree in strips of LED lights, appears at the Vivid Sydney Festival. Image courtesy of Vivid Sydney

An indigenous Australian design is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EGEG

An indigenous Australian design is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

People take pictures of a design projected onto the Museum of Contemporary Art during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EGAT

People take pictures of a design projected onto the Museum of Contemporary Art during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

A boy pushes himself into an illuminated sculpture on the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EHO6

A boy pushes himself into an illuminated sculpture on the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

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