Sep 24, 2014

Balloon Without a View

We went down to the South Bank a couple of times to have a go at this funny rubber thingy with the frankly stupid name of Exxopolis. The xx is supposed to represent twenty years of the company who makes these things, the nature of which I'll elaborate on momentarily, has been making these things. But it just made me think of oil companies, and tigers.

Ridiculous name aside, and by way of background, for the last couple of weeks the Brisbane Festival has been running, you know the one that culminates in Riverfire. There has been the obligatory Spiegeltent, the universal nature of whose design and name bemuses me, in which various performances occurred. There was a big lit-up sculpture made of bamboo which was no doubt deeply significant, but which left me, well, fill in the gap before boozled.

And then there was the Exxopolis thingy, which cost money to get into so was a bit of a gamble but the photos looked good.

From the outside it looked like a recreation of a little castle from the Yellow Submarine film, in the style of, if you know what I mean, because I can't be sure that there was a castle in the film, but imagine a sort of curvy not-quite straight wobbly rubber-looking complex shape with protuberances and patches of colour, about five metres tall and maybe twenty metres on each side, and towers and cupolas of different colour poking out above the rest like rubber gas-bubbles.

Mum, Lyra, Georgia and Claire approached with anticipation, running the gauntlet of what I now understand are locally referred to as "Greeters."

Once we had relieved ourselves of our shoes, and received the obligatory corporate-bollocks introductory statement, and the airlock had been opened, we stepped in. Instantly the atmosphere changed, with soft music and ambient light - filtered through the walls of the enormous balloon it turned out we were inside - changed to bizarre primary colours inside this strange maze reminiscent as much as anything as a really very clean and complicated gastro-intestinal tract, kind of organic in an artificial way, with no straight lines and no natural colours. Passages undulated away with colours changing with distance, so we could be standing in a bright red space - and the very air would be red, our faces and everything filtered through red light, like being in the red bowels of a red thing, but looking down the corridor a could of turns the walls would be bright green or blue.

We had been told in no uncertain terms that it was not a bouncing castle, but the homunculi were disinclined to respect that instruction, so we spent a happy and slightly strange hour-and-a-half wandering, lolling, and taking pictures.

There were a few large rooms, very tall, which had clear Gaudi-esque lines to them, and the architect was reputed to have given the place an Islamic feel. Around the rooms were alcoves where people were just sitting, relaxing, or playing with their kids.

Lyra enjoyed finding the ventilation ducts where air was pumped in to keep the structure inflated, then letting the breeze blow into her face.

I enjoyed lying down on the floor on my back and my ribs giving me enough pain stroke discomfort to be unable to get back up again, and then having my child stroke children come and sit upon me just when I had no hope of escape.

I say children, for we went back the following week with Eloise, so impressed was I with the general discomfitude of the experience. She immediately disappeared with Georgia, with Lyra departing in a different direction. We spent many a happy minute wandering the fleshy halls and passages in search of our offspring, who were clearly also moving. By the time we had found them and exhaled, were surprised to be told that our time was up this week, because it was the school holidays and $16 only bought us twenty minutes or something ridiculous like that.

So bugger it: first week very good, second week not so very good. Note: go when not crowded.

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