With a focus on our place in the universe and the relationship First Nations people have with the environment, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light returns to illuminate Alice Springs (Mparntwe) from 8 – 17 April 2022, promising 10 nights of fantastic free entertainment under star-studded skies with the theme, Sky Country.
First Nations people have long looked to the skies to understand their place on Country and, in the heart of Australia, the behaviour of the seasons, the sky, the wind and the nature of flight all provide the knowledge needed for desert survival.
The Red Centre’s desert night skies are famous for their blazing stars, and the constellations have guided generations of Arrernte across their homeland, while the birds warn of predators and the winds determine what needs harvesting.
Parrtjima keeps the flame of story and authentic Aboriginal culture alive by using the newest technology to tell ancient stories, all set against the 300-million-year-old natural canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges.
Offering a new way to look at the world, and sparking our curiosity, the Parrtjima program will tell the story of sky, air and wind through light shows, installations, art, music, talks, films, workshops and performance.
Parrtjima will showcase a number of extraordinary lighting installations including:
Water Tree: Strung over four archways, the installation is inspired by the artwork of Karen Napaljarri Barnes. A twinkling array of acrylic glass, the colourful spectacle replicates the incredible natural phenomenon of thousands of budgerigars flocking together.
Flight: Representing the journey of the budgerigar along the Lander River, the installation features artwork of Farron Jampitjinpa Furber. Farron’s work is printed onto sheer fabric spears with circular iconography replicated on laser-etched acrylic discs.
Eagle’s Eye: Inspired by irretye (the wedge-tailed eagle) constellation, the installation is a hypnotic tunnel brought to life through the animation of works of Jeannie Nungarrayi Egan.
Energy: Created by Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists, this interactive installation features a mix of eight static bikes and wheelchairs. As you jump on and spin the pedals, the artworks illuminate in a revolving fashion to demonstrate the relationship between energy and wind.
Wild Wind: Reflecting the work of local artist Raelene Ngala Williams and her artwork, Walpa Pukla, this installation celebrates the stories of the whirly whirly through a series of floating, moving structures.
Grounded: An annual crowd-favourite, watch the animated stories of traditional and contemporary interpretations of Sky Country in a playful collection, accompanied by a soundscape reflecting the elements.
Night Sky: Created in collaboration with artist Carmen Glynn-Braun and Common Ground, be transported to Sky Country. This 15m-high installation houses 1,200 beautifully illuminated orbs suspended like a blanket of stars.
MacDonnell Ranges Light Show: The MacDonnell Ranges come alive through a spectacular light and sound show, offering a unique ‘desert of light’ experience.
A raft of big names will wow visitors, with ARIA Award-winning Dan Sultan and Triple J’s 2021 Unearthed Artist of the Year King Stingray leading the music program. They will be joined by a range of performers including Aussie rapper BARKAA, West Arnhem Land’s Black Rock Band and the Top End’s Jimblah.
The King Stingray song Get Me Out is the soundtrack for the Parrtjima promotional video, and band member Yirrnga Yunupingu said they are looking forward to playing at the festival.
“This will be the first time for us playing in the Red Centre. Our dreams have come true! We can’t wait to experience the good vibes of Parrtjima and rock the stage with all the other amazing artists,” he said.
Some of the musicians will also appear as part of the talks program, intimate conversations between fascinating Australians and Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO. Other names on the program include NRL star Josh Addo-Carr, Steven Oliver of Black Comedy fame, and Parrtjima artists Carmen Glynn-Braun and Raelene Ngala Williams.
Attendees interested in hands-on activities can register for a range of workshops including screen printing, run by Shaun Edwards of social enterprise House of Darwin and creative powerhouse Nina Fitzgerald, a live pottery demonstration and skills tutorial, led by the artistic team at Hermannsburg Potters, and seed jewellery making with Ikuntji Artists.
Those who enjoy painting can sign up for a workshop with the Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, highlighting social commentary in watercolour, or an earring-painting workshop taught by local artist Zoe Fitzpatrick. Guests can also sign up for a collaborative Indigenous painting workshop using traditional iconography with Warlpiri artists of the Warlukurlangu Art Centre.
In addition, the talented team at GUTS Dance will conduct a series of movement workshops for anyone inspired by their opening night performance, while professional rapper, drummer and music composer DOBBY will lead an interactive drumming workshop for everyone from novices right through to virtuosos.
This year’s theme is Sky Country, and visitors will also have the chance to learn about sky stories through sand drawing, and explore the history of the boomerang at demonstrations presented by Maruku Arts.
Foodies can enjoy a bushfood demonstration and tasting with well-known Kungkas Can Cook owner Rayleen Brown, during which she will highlight the wild harvesting process that has sustained communities for thousands of years.
This year’s film program offers a retrospective of acclaimed cinematographer, director and writer, Kaytej man Warwick Thornton. Dive into a series of free shorts, documentaries and feature films that feature his stunning cinematography or directorial flair at the Araluen Arts Centre.
Parrtjima is delivered by the Northern Territory Government through Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) and produced by Creative Directors AGB Events.
“The Red Centre’s phenomenal star-filled night skies are the perfect backdrop for Sky Country, which focuses on our place in the universe and the relationship Aboriginal Australians have with the skies above,” said NTMEC CEO Tim Watsford.
The only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind, Parrtjima shines a light on the world’s oldest living culture by using the newest technologies, including large-scale light installations and a light show projected onto the 300-million-year-old natural canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges.
Parrtjima – A Festival in Light runs 8 – 17 April 2022. For more information and full program, visit: www.parrtjima.com.au for details.
Image: Eagle’s Eye installation (render)