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Casey Cornucopia – a treasure trove of activities and events this winter

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

The City of Casey, in Melbourne’s south-east, intends to make winter 2022 a time for celebration not hibernation. This year marks the 20th anniversary of their Winter Arts Festival. With a robust festival program featuring local artists across a plethora of disciplines, including visual arts, music, theatre and dance, the highlight has to be the Casey Cornucopia, based at the flagship Bunjil Place.

Bunjil Place swiftly cemented itself as a popular gathering place and civic space since opening in 2017. It is these third spaces, outside of work and home (even if those are the same place), where community truly happens and that’s something that has been too rare in recent years. An entertainment precinct, gallery, theatre, library and more, it is the outdoor plaza where the gem of this festival will be based.

It doesn’t take an architecture devotee to see the symbolism of Bunjil (also Bundjil) the wedge-tailed eagle creator found in First Nation stories, in the plaza’s design. A soaring timber roof sweeps gracefully down, like an eagle’s wings sheltering and protecting those who gather below.

Start the winter school holidays off with a bang with The Cornucopia Launch Party on Friday 24th June 6.30-8.30pm. Tickets are $15 a head which includes a welcome drink and snacks. Be the first to get an exclusive look at the drawcard attraction, The Cornucopia Garden.

The Cornucopia Garden will be open daily between 10am – 10pm until Sunday 17th July. This interactive experience is brought to you by the powerhouse global creative studio, Bombas & Parr. With a multi-disciplinary approach to projects, the art group specialises in food & drink-based experiences working with worldwide brands and cultural institutions, and now the City of Casey.

It was a coup the events team had been working towards for some time. Emma Bentley, Bunjil Place Plaza Team Leader explains more. ’They work in London but also right around the world, creating these really interesting installations and immersive experiences through food. This is the first time they’ve presented an installation in Australia. We really liked their work and so put a brief to them.’

‘They did some research into the Casey region and found there was a rich history of producing and they really wanted to localise it while giving it a Bombas & Parr spin. From there, we narrowed it down to an apple, celery and the chocolate lily – so we’re representing fruits, vegetables and also the Indigenous side. We’ve been working with the Bunurong Land Council to ensure it was okay for us to use the chocolate lily.’

The chocolate lily is an indigenous plant with blue-violet flowers which smell remarkably like chocolate. Historically, the tuber formed part of the diet for local Indigenous people. The region has been an abundant source of food, long before European settlement.

Casey Cornucopia plans to present this food history in ways you’ve not seen before, let alone could ever imagine. If last year’s Winter Arts Festival is anything to go by, be prepared to be wowed. In 2021, a giant 7m diameter replica of the Earth’s Moon by UK artist Luke Jerram was the centrepiece of the very successful Museum of the Moon installation that attracted 30,000 visitors over a 10-day period.

We’re creating these amazing large-scale sculptures that tap into all your senses, even incorporating the world’s first edible fog. So, as you’re walking through the sculptures, this flavoured mist will be billowing forth from the sculptures.

Anyone interested in taking a peek behind the scenes of such an over-the-top creative installation should join The Cornucopia Tour which will run Saturday 25th June – Sunday 10th July and Saturday 16th July – Sunday 17th July at various times of the day. Bookings are required for this guided tour and there’ll even be some Cornucopia-themed snacks to keep you going.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can always visit The Cornucopia Food Hub which is open Saturday 25th June – Sunday 17th July. Free to enter, the hub will showcase local farmers, growers and artisan producers and will feature demonstrations, workshops and talks. More events and activities are being added in the run-up to the festival’s launch so keep an eye on the Bunjil Place website for all the latest news.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Casey Cornucopia
WHERE: Bunjil Place, 2 Patrick Northeast Drive, Narre Warren
WHEN: Friday 24th June with events running until Sunday 17th July
MORE INFO: Casey Cornucopia

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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