The only Aboriginal light festival of its kind in the world, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light has announced its exciting new program of stunning light installations, live music, workshops, meaningful talks, and film favourites that will be presented in Alice Springs (Mparntwe), home of Arrernte people, this September.
The free festival is themed – Lifting Our Spirits – and runs for 10 nights, proudly showcasing the oldest continuous culture on Earth, bringing stories and ideas to life through engaging, creative, fun and moving performances and installations.
AGB Events, the creative directors and producers of the festival, have again engaged First Nations Adviser Rhoda Roberts as part of their team to work alongside the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group (PFRG) to develop stunning light installations, as well as the program for the Deep Listening talks, Aboriginal films, workshops and live music.
As always, the must-see 2km illumination of MacDonnell Ranges will be magnificent. This year’s light show is called Ebb and Flow of Sky and Country and will be accompanied by a dynamic soundscape and narration by traditional owner Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens and Roberts.
The light installation showcase, Werte, has been inspired by an artwork by Kumalie Kngwarraye Riley, which takes as its central motif Werte (pronounced Woord-da), the concentric lineal work that speaks of meeting places, and is so relevant to the Central Desert art styles.
Among the highlights are artist Greg McAdam’s enormous glowing sphere, Grass Seed, measuring seven metres in diameter and suspended three metres in the air; Rachel Wallace’s Alatye (Bush Yam), reinterpreted into a four metre-high flower; and Lachlan Dodds-Watson’s representation of the next generation of artists, Emu Laying Eggs at Night, a towering eight metre-high emu.
Spearheading the Deep Listening talks program, hosted by Roberts on stage, are renowned journalist, film maker, author and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant who will discuss Race, Identity and Belonging; and journalist, author and educator Tracey Holmes on Sydney 2000 – Representing Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Globally.
In a first for Parrtjima, there will be two nights of mouth-watering cooking demonstrations with high-profile chef Mark Olive and Rayleen Brown, co-founder of Kungkas Can Cook. Rayleen is recognised throughout Australia and internationally for shining the spotlight on Central Australian bush foods.
Hosted by Paul Ah Chee, the Sounds of the Centre music program is a unique mix of locally sourced Territory talent, from Stuart Nuggett, a finalist in the 2020 Indigenous Language Award at the 2020 National Indigenous Music Awards, through to Leah Flanagan’s string quartet, and to metal from the world’s most remote metal band Southeast Desert Metal. Other popular acts include Kirra Voller, Jessie K, and Paul Ah Chee and Friends.
Cinema in Todd Mall will feature free feature films and documentaries including Aussie favourites Top End Wedding, The Sapphires and Bran Nue Dae plus a number of ground-breaking documentaries, including The Australian Dream and In My Blood It Runs.
As part of the festival’s COVID-19 Safety Plan, this year guests are required to register their attendance at Parrtjima. Tickets are free of charge. Registering helps to manage the number of visitors each night, reduce queueing, and support physical distancing guidelines. To register, simply visit: www.parrtjima.com.au
“We couldn’t be happier with our new program and everyone involved is so thrilled to be able to host Parrtjima this year after having to postpone due to COVID-19 earlier in April,” said Roberts. “Now is the perfect time for Australians to connect with each other, enjoy themselves, and immerse themselves in wonderful stories, art and performances.”
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light takes place in Alice Springs from 11 – 20 September 2020. For more information and full program, visit: www.parrtjimaaustralia.com.au for details.
Image: Lighting the MacDonnell Ranges at Parrtjima 2019 – photo by James Horan