Luminara Festival 2010

On behalf of myself and the rest of our team, I would like to welcome and introduce Alan Piffer. Alan is one of our Volunteer Media Generalist/Writers here at Volunteer Victoria and this is the first of many posts he will be writing to help profile the great work being done throughout our community.
For crafty individuals who can find a million ways to have fun with some glue, scissors, and colourful paper, getting involved in the Luminara Lantern Festival is definitely a rewarding means of self-expression. Just ask Shelley Saunders, who is in her second year of volunteering for Luminara. During her downtime in between contract work as a software tester, Saunders enjoys building the bright lanterns to be displayed at the festival, using artistic skills she acquired from her mother.

“My mom’s a professional artist, in pretty much all media—sculpting, painting, pottery, the whole thing,” explains Saunders. “My main artistic outlet is music, but I’m heavily influenced by the visual arts, and my mom.”

When she first showed up to the studio where the lanterns were being built, Saunders wasn’t exactly sure what she’d be good at, but soon excelled in papering the wire-frame lanterns, finding it similar to sewing or upholstery. Saunders says less crafty people are also encouraged to volunteer for Luminara, because a wide variety of skills are needed to help out in putting the festival together. She adds that some people drop in and do what they can, just to enjoy watching the lanterns come together.  

Beautiful lantern designed by local artist.

Saunders also enjoys the social aspect of volunteering with Luminara. “It was about community for me,” says Saunders. “I wanted to be involved in the artistic community and have another circle. In Victoria it’s all about circles, and people in the various artistic/musical circles just kind of recombine themselves and do different things.” 

Volunteers dressed in costume for Luminara.

One benefit of being involved in something creative is getting your mind off your troubles, explains Saunders. “The thing about art—and music as well—is when you’re in the middle of it, it’s really hard to think about anything else,” says Saunders. “If there’s anything negative going on, you come here, and it’s very all-consuming, especially working on a lantern as big as the horse. I would say, in the end, it will be probably about 30-40 hours of work.”

Luminara volunteers in costume.

Saunders’ says volunteering for Luminara has been rewarding, not only for witnessing the end product herself, but for seeing other people admiring the lanterns.” That is the pinnacle of the work; you see everything set out in the installation, and you’re waiting for the sun to go down and things to get lit up,” says Saunders. “The lanterns look completely different at nighttime lit up than they do in the daytime. You almost can’t even imagine how beautiful they are. That’s really the moment when you can stand back and go ‘wow’.”  

Volunteers helping with donation collection.

Brought to you by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA), the Luminara Lantern Festival has transformed from a one-night event, into a series of small scale neighbourhood celebrations during the week of September 18th to 25th. Further information is available at:  Volunteers are still needed. Check here for a listing of volunteer opportunities and find your fit:

Volunteer with Luminara…it’s fun!

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