Giant rats to light up festival's lantern parade

Artist Tracy Luff with the participants of the two-day lantern making workshop. Photo: Peter Guthrie
Artist Tracy Luff with the participants of the two-day lantern making workshop. Photo: Peter Guthrie

Volunteers from the community and students from Hennessy Catholic College this week created rat-shaped lanterns for the upcoming Lambing Flat Chinese Festival.

The group worked under the guidance of artist Tracy Luff to create three giant lanterns.

Two full-day workshops were held at the Young Town Hall with the participants using bamboo, wire, paper and paint to construct the works.

Tracy, a visual artist from Goulburn, praised the group of artists. They were divided into three and given free rein to work out designs.

"I'm very happy with the students and artists. They've worked really hard and the work is really neat," Tracy said.

"We've done two full days from 9am to 3.30pm without much of a break. With my preparation there's a lot involved. I have to think about the design and if the participants can cope. If you design something overly complex it can be hard for a first-time maker. I've been working with lanterns for many, many, many years."

Tracy explained the process beginning with identifying key features of the animal.

"We're thinking what are the features that are important when you think of a rat. Ears and tail were the obvious ones. So once they had the idea, the character, they started to put drawings on paper. I had to go and look and see if it would work. I'll add and correct a few things, then I'll guide them through step-by-step making rings, body parts - head, legs, arms and tail - and attaching it so it has certain angles. They have really demanding, pronounced features and the angles give it character," she said.

Tracy's husband Ross Luff is her technical adviser. Ross makes sure the engineering is sound, and helps create the angles required during construction.

"There's a lot of technical issues with large lantern making. These lanterns are very involved, it's quite complex and requires two days to complete," Tracy said.

"Ross will be the one saying 'if this is how we want it to look, what sort of structure do we need to create'. It needs to be very strong."

The workshop was supported by South Tablelands Art.

Tracy expects the rats to look fantastic during the Lambing Flat Chinese Festival lantern parade which will be held on Saturday, March 21 at 7.20pm in Anderson Park, Young.