St Mary's Christmas light show.

St Mary’s Christmas light show.Credit:Rhett Wyman

“What we have really set out to create is a new tradition for Sydney,” says Bastic. “I was thinking about some of the Christmas shop windows and how they are kind of disappearing and thought, ‘What can we do?’”

This year’s display, called Ascension, is a 12-minute program that combines abstract patterns with iconic religious images from Italian masters of the 15th century.

Ascension is all about the traditional architecture of churches and that concept of them being the tallest building in the city and looking upwards, forcing energy upwards and bringing your view to the heavens,” says Westley, who along with another five people, has been working on the piece for eight weeks.

Adding to the overall effect is a soundtrack of specially composed music performed by the cathedral’s own choir.

Technology available for large-scale projections has improved in ways that would have been inconceivable just 10 years ago.

“When we first started with it, it was more like large scale slideshows,” says Bastic. “Now we’re able to animate the whole building.”

Anthony Bastic and Giles Westley are set to reveal their 10th Christmas-themed design.

Anthony Bastic and Giles Westley are set to reveal their 10th Christmas-themed design.Credit:Renee Nowytarger

And while Bastic and the rest of the team are conscious of the religious significance of both building and the season, they insist the display is for people of all – or no – beliefs.

“One of the things about this event is that it does appeal to people of all belief structures,” says Westley. “It’s also a nice break from the working cycle – having a moment for six minutes when you can just stop and have a bit of old-fashioned awe and wonder.”

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