A spectacular, multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history and story will occupy all of Lismore’s cultural precinct this weekend. Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning) is a major new Australian work by internationally acclaimed digital artist Craig Walsh commissioned by The Lismore Quad.
“We wanted to create a powerful and beautiful experience of Bundjalung language and culture that could be enjoyed by all generations and reflected The Quad’s history as a place of learning,” says Marisa Snow, Creative Producer and Quad Placemaking Officer.
“The timing of this world premiere to coincide with Reconciliation Week is particularly significant with the recent landmark recognition of Bundjalung Native Title in our region and 2019 being the Year of Indigenous Languages Worldwide.”
Two years in the making, Dungarimba Wandarahn has been created in collaboration with Southern Cross University’s Indigenous School Gnibi Wandarahn and Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar, and is inspired by the stories and recollections of Bundjalung Elder, Aunty Irene Harrington.
Irene was one of the first Aboriginal students to attend Lismore High School in the 1950s – now the Lismore Library and Conservatorium of Music in The Quad. Irene lived on Cubawee mission in South Lismore where she learnt her traditional Widjabul language and then went each day to Lismore High School where she says her language and culture was ‘swept under the carpet’.
Irene’s story, like Bundjalung languages, is one of resilience and survival. Protection and revival of Indigenous language is a passion of Aunty Irene’s and her family. She was one of a group of Widjabul Elders who were responsible for passing Australia’s first Indigenous Languages Bill through the State Parliament in 2017.
“This project depicts our reconnection through language to the future,” says Professor Norm Sheehan, Director of Gnibi Wandarahn at Southern Cross University. “Aunty Irene’s life shows us the power and beauty of connection as it flows through this work.”
Dungarimba Wandarahn is a powerful multi-sensory experience of Aunty Irene Harrington’s memories as a young Aboriginal girl straddling two worlds in the 1950s. The original Lismore High School is animated with large-scale projections and a soundscape depicting her experience of a white education system.
A large dome constructed on the grass over a sand circle evokes traditional Bundjalung story, language and song with music composed by Brett Canning from Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar and didgeridoo from local musician Tom Avery.
Audiences are invited to experience the work however they choose – lying down under the stars and listening, walking around each of the spaces, or sitting on a picnic rug while the kids play in the sand circle covered with animated projections of Bundjalung art. The precinct will include fire pits, an outdoor bar, mulled wine and food from Slate café.
Over the last 30 years, Australian artist Craig Walsh has become widely known Internationally for his pioneering approaches to site- responsive installations and projection mapping in unconventional sites.
His works have animated natural and built environments and features such as trees, rivers and mountains, as well as public art projects in urban and architectural space. He is also renowned for his site interventions at live events, including iconic works at music and cultural festivals across Australia and internationally.
Craig’s work remains distinctive for its conceptual underpinnings and deftly woven narrative. Over recent years he has extended his digital arts expertise into work with diverse communities, enabling large-scale participation as collaborators in contemporary art projects
Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning)
The Lismore Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore
Installation continues to 26 May 2019 (6.00pm – 9.00pm)
For more information, visit: www.lismorequad.org.au for details.
Image: Dungarimba Wandarahn (in development) – photo by Kate Holmes