The Leafie invasion of Adelaide

A French group, Le Phun, created a hundred of these sculptures for WOMADelaide.

“The innovative theatre company from Toulouse combines the reality of the everyday with the creative world of the imagination. Their beguiling, ephemeral Leafies (Les Pheuillus) – plant sculptures born from autumn leaves, in human form – will appear and migrate to unexpected places in Botanic Park during the festival, as a reflection on the poetic aspects of nature.”

I didn’t make it to WOMADelaide this year, but soon discovered that the leafies had escaped the Botanic Park and started to show up in unexpected places around the city of Adelaide. 

Coming out of the tea room / snooker hall

I was startled to see a strange figure at the base of the staircase to the tea rooms in the Adelaide Arcade.
The entrance is sealed with glass plate, hence the reflection of the skylight above.

Looking around the arcade, I soon discovered several Leafies on the walkways above, enjoying the view of shoppers below.

It wasn’t until I left the arcade that I realised I’d walked straight past the most obvious Leafie, sitting in a chair atop a display case, bowing their* violin.

[* as I’m uncertain of the gender of Leafies, I’ll stick with a gender neutral “they” and “their”]

This was the first outcrop (?!) of Leafies I’d found; little did I realise they were spreading throughout the city.


The violin player at the entrance to the Adelaide Arcade



Trumpeting their arrival

Really, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the leafies: I’d caught sight of a couple atop the Charlesworth building at the entrance to Rundle Mall earlier that week.

Later that day, I wandered through a walkway along the side of the Grenfell Tower, only to discover another branch of the Leafies had settled in the area: some atop poles, some seated, some reading, some playing guitar — a very cultural mob, these leafies.



Playing peek-a-boo
Enjoying a quiet read on the first floor
Just hanging out under the lights
Strumming their guitar


Well, I thought, that’s a nice collection. I wonder if there are any more in Adelaide? Or were these the few left behind after they’d cleared up the Womad site?


Little did I suspect the invasion had only just begun. On Friday, may 24th, I wandered through the market on the way to the student strike for climate (a national affair). Lo and behold, there were a few leafies also turning out.

There was a parent and child, seated outside a nice cafe at the eastern entrance to the central market. And some leafies were checking in to the Adelaide Hilton next door.

Checking In to the Hilton
A nice spot at the cafe


Waiting at the tram stop, I noticed a trio atop the court building opposite

The strike was a very successful event, ending with a march from Parliament House to Victoria Square. I noticed that a few more leafies had come out to celebrate.

There was a piano player 

A whole lot of leafie kids in the trees

Up a pole
Hide and seek in the trees

A comfortable perch

What was unexpected was the family group in the south-eastern park . They looked interesting, so I ventured closer to have a better view.



Kids at play


What a great turnout, I thought. Guess they all came out for a nice sunny day, to support the student strike for climate.

I was wandering back from the east end cinemas when I caught sight of a new group of leafies, nestled atop a building at the eastern end of the mall. They weren’t there the previous week.

I wondered, were there more leafies hidden atop rooftops in the mall? To my delight, a whole slew of them had emerged to enjoy the fine weather.
Atop a renovated arcade


Atop the mall entrance to Adelaide Arcade
The Clock above GW Cox
Atop Strandbags



And that was all I found in the mall — on that day. As I soon discovered, leafies moved around, acquired items, and started appearing all over the place.

A balcony adjacent to the Town Hall offices in Pirie St
Climbing poles and trees in Pirie St
Some in the sun
Climbing Trees
…atop poles
Keeping a look out
Or just a leafie family enjoying the day

The next day, I spotted new ones playing brass on the town hall balcony

Surely, I thought, this must be all of them. But then I spotted a few more while catching the bus out to the radio station: not only were there new ones on the mall, but a whole slew of them appeared outside the unis on Noprth Terrace!

I took an early morning walk to capture this new lot on film.

First, three atop the iconic Beehive Corner building, home to Haigh’s Chocolates

Nice view from the second storey



Two more on the first floor


And then along North Terrace, two leafies having a nice chat at a circular table outside Adelaide Uni

We also saw a chap in a chair

and a strange encounter outside the Law Pond, a kid and a kangaroo!



A little further on, at UniSA, we encountered a parent and child on bicycles

and, most curiously, a trio of joggers on the edge of the UniSA pond

And that, I thought, was it.

I was wrong: several more leafies emerged or moved over the next week or so.
Apparently they are not immobile, they just move around very slowly or at night when noone is looking.

Off the footpath
and into the shade outside the Hilton


A trombone player
and a euphonium

 Some changes: one of the balcony leafies got a footie beanie

and one of the joggers raced ahead


Surprisingly, more leafies continued to appear

In the Adelaide Arcade
Atop a phone booth


Outside the Freemason’s Hall
alongside a church’s garden

and, most curious of all, flying out of the Central Market

Nice Wire Work!

Finally, one weekend, all the leafies vanished.

Except the two outside the café

So, as quietly as they arrived, the leafie invasion departed the city.

Roman is a keen tea drinker, cyclist and radio broadcaster, who spends his time photographing leafies and producing fanzines.

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