Flower power: Dr Deanne Gilson has created a begonia inspired garland that will hang around town hall as part of this year’s expanded festival. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

Flower fest grows beyond the gardens

February 18, 2021 BY

THIS year’s Begonia Festival is looking bloomin’ great!

Months in the making, the begonia display at the Robert Clark Conservatory will be back for 2021. Photo: FILE

Normally held over the Labour Day long weekend, organisers have expanded the popular event to 23 days in March, with installations and activities taking place across the city.

“We have an incredibly exciting array of events for the Ballarat Begonia Festival,” said Cr Amy Johnson.

“The benefit of having installations across the CBD is that it will draw people back into town and we know that many local businesses have really struggled over the last 12 months. We’re keen to support them moving forward.”

While some traditional events will still be taking place, like more than 700 begonias on show at the Robert Clark Conservatory in the Botanical Gardens, there’s also a huge range of new offerings.

They include installations around Town Hall, inside Civic Hall, and along Sturt Street, as well as tours and trails, markets and live music.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to seeing is the floating floral carpet at Civic Hall,” Cr Johnson said.

“Civic Hall is going to be activated for 10 days with a range of local and regional artists including big names like Kevin Moneghetti.”

One of those local artists is Deanne Gilson and she’s making a huge work that will be on display during the event.

“I’m creating a paper clay garland to go on top of Town Hall,” she said. “It’s going to be about 2.7 by 2.7 metres in diameter.

Cr Amy Johnson. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

“My first ever exhibition was at the Apex Art Show at the Festival when I was 18. I put in a bunch of lavender and a rose and the artwork sold. Basically, it started my art career.

“That was so important for me, and to come back all these years later and create such a significant and big work, it’s amazing.”

Just up from Town Hall, along the Sturt Street Gardens between Armstrong and Doveton streets, Form Imagination are also creating something amazing.

Nathan Weyers said the opportunity to show off what his world-renowned stagecraft company can do in his home town was special.

“We’re doing an illuminated garden in the 300 block, it takes over 90 per cent of it,” he said. “We’re making three styles of installation: an interactive veggie patch, a lake, and a bloom installation based around begonias with each one about two meters in size and that lights up.

“We built AURA for Sovereign Hill, so this will be our second Ballarat installation. No one knows this business exists here, so it’s awesome to show people what can be done with locally sourced materials, businesses and people.”

The Ballarat Begonia Festival will run from Saturday, 6 March to Sunday, 28 March. Check out ballaratbegoniafestival.com to keep up to date with what’s happening.