Chinese student wants to photograph all of Australia’s major cultural festivals and events – ABC News

A Chinese national has fallen in love with Australia so much that he has set himself the goal of photographing and documenting more than 200 events and cultural festivals.

Tyr Liang, 29, moved to Adelaide in 2014 to study mechanical engineering and explore the remote parts of Australia. 

“I love travelling and before I got into photography I collected postcards,” he said.

“But a lot of remote places in Australia either didn’t have postcards or the postcard quality was bad, so I decided to buy a camera and do it myself.”

Mr Liang said he originally started with 50 events that he wanted to photograph but that list had now expanded.

“I am currently on a project to document Australian events and festivals. So far, I have selected 200 out of over 3,000 events and festivals across Australia,” he said.

“The first event I covered was South Australia’s history festival, it’s a one-month event and a few hundred smaller events and they open a lot of historical places for people to inspect.

“It’s a fantastic event and I’ve documented the event for the past four years now.

Camels racing with jockeys aboard across the red dirt in the NT
Uluru Camel Cup 2021, at Yulara in the Northern Territory.(Supplied: Jiayuan Liang and Xplorer Studio)

The smallest event that Mr Liang photographed was the English Ale festival, which was an annual event held every year in South Australia.

“It’s a pagan ritual type event that happens in the Adelaide Hills where a bonfire is built with a wicker man. It’s been going for over 40 years,” Mr Liang said.

While all events had their positives, Mr Liang said if he had to choose one event as his favourite it would be Dark Mofo in Hobart.

“It’s just so different and creative, it’s a dark-themed event with many smaller events,” he said.

“It attracts artists from all over the world and Hobart is a very special place to be during that time.”

A man starting a bonfire with a large wicker man looking down on him
The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest is a celebration of the region’s apple-picking history.(Supplied: Jiayuan Liang and Xplorer Studio)

Since arriving in Australia, Mr Liang estimated he had photographed more than 200 events and festivals all the way from Tasmania up to the Torres Strait Islands.

“It’s the largest cultural gathering of Torres Strait islanders. Many of the communities send their best dancing groups.

“It’s probably the best opportunity to see dancing groups from so many remote islands and communities.

“It was really hard getting from Adelaide to the Torres Strait islands to photograph that festival, but I made it.”

A man playing a guitar that is on fire in front of a giant speaker stack
White Night 2019 — Melbourne’s largest arts festival.(Supplied: Jiayuan Liang and Xplorer Studio)

For most of his trips, Mr Liang paid for the privilege to document the cultural festivals out of his own pocket.

“The significance of my project is that, due to COVID, many events and festivals that have been running for years now, have an uncertain future,” he said.

“Because many of the events are run by volunteers and lack marketing, not many high-quality photographs exist.

Mr Liang said he saw himself as a photo archaeologist.

“It’s important to document these cultural events for future references. I call it modern material archaeology,” he said.

“We document the contemporary past and when we take a photo it becomes part of history and it’s archived for future generations.

Several indigenous dancers, dancing in front of a large tree
Laura Quinkan Dance Festival 2021, one of Australia’s largest Indigenous cultural gatherings.(Supplied: Jiayuan Liang and Xplorer Studio)

“These events and festivals show the unique culture of local and regional communities, some of them are even of national significance.

“I feel they have a cultural importance for endangered ethnic groups, especially during today’s radically changing world.”

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