Wellington to host first winter festival - complete with burning effigy

Somnium, and the tourching called Ritual, are part of Wellington's first Loemis festival, designed to embrace the dark ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Somnium, and the tourching called Ritual, are part of Wellington's first Loemis festival, designed to embrace the dark days of winter.

What are your deepest darkest thoughts? Do you have a secret? Tell Somnium.

The monster - a beast that feeds on human dreams - sits on his throne in Wellington Museum, ready to feast on offerings of Wellingtonians.

He is one part of Loemis, the city's first winter festival, designed to embrace the darkest days of the year and evoke traditions that have kept humankind warm since the beginning.

The monster sits on a throne in Wellington Museum, with his belly ready to hold the innermost thoughts of Wellingtonians.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

The monster sits on a throne in Wellington Museum, with his belly ready to hold the innermost thoughts of Wellingtonians.

The public can to post their most private aspirations into Somnium's belly before he is paraded down the Wellington waterfront, accompanied by a live band, and floated on to the lagoon then torched.

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Festival director Andrew Laking says the burning symbolises the setting free of our subconscious, but it also marks the end of the winter solstice.

Sculptor Leda Farrow, left, and festival director Andrew Laking with Somnium.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Sculptor Leda Farrow, left, and festival director Andrew Laking with Somnium.

He is keen to see how many people share their thoughts with Somnium, but he won't be taking a peek himself.

"They're your innermost thoughts. It's between you and the Somnium."

Housed in Wellington Museum's Flux space, Somnium sits in the centre of the room surrounded by four writing desks that reflect the Loemis humours: The Wise, The Peaceful, The Fast and The Optimist.

Based on the medieval humours, they are designed to align with the elements.

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The public can reflect on which best represents them, then take their place at that writing desk and prepare their offering.

Sculptor Leda Farrow says Somnium is made of paper mache, and sits on a wooden chair.

She designed him to look like a winter God, representing feelings like fear and hopelessness.

She is looking forward to see how he burns.

"I really love him ... but if I kept him I wouldn't know what the hell to do with it. I guess I started making him knowing he would be sacrificed, and it will be cool to see it."

Laking was inspired to start the winter festival by her years as a musician touring Europe.

"I loved when I lived in Europe, all the winter celebrations," he says.

"I used to travel around Germany a lot and they have all these fantastic markets and stuff and it starts up a couple of weeks before [solstice] and it's a continual presence in the middle of winter."

Other Loemis events include a feast for 100 people designed by Field & Green, a showing of Haxan, a silent film about witchcraft, complete with live narration and a new score from Wellington musicians, as well as Sasquatch guided tours in Polhill Reserve.

The festival runs for June 15 to 21. Somnium's burning, called Ritual, is the final event of the festival and marks the end of the solstice.

For more information visit loemis.nz

 - Stuff

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