Parrtjima is a breathtaking showcase of contemporary and traditional Indigenous art, culture and stories using light and sound, created by the Northern Territory Government in collaboration with AGB Events (known for their award-winning work for Vivid Sydney) and local Aboriginal artists, students and community
The free public event officially opened on Friday, 23 September.
Andrew Hopper, General Manager, Northern Territory Major Events Company, said: “Parrtjima offers visitors from around Australia and the world the unique chance to experience the oldest continuous culture on earth in a totally new and exciting way.
“We are extremely proud to present the first authentic Indigenous light festival of its kind in the world as we illuminate 2.5km of the Northern Territory’s majestic MacDonnell Ranges in celebration of Central Australia’s rich Aboriginal culture.”
In addition to the multi-coloured projections on the MacDonnell Ranges, a series of installations will be on show at Alice Springs Desert Park. These include:
Range of Expression: Visitors to Parrtjima can play a part in illuminating the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges! Step into the interactive glass booth and take control of the panels to choose which colours you want to use to light the vast landscape, and watch your creation come to life before your eyes.
- Yeperenye Tales (Caterpillars): A series of three large, light-filled caterpillar installations featuring colourful illustrations by students from Amoonguna School in Alice Springs, based on their interpretation of the Yeperenye (Caterpillar) Dreamtime story. The story of the Caterpillar is folklore in Central Australia, considered by the local Indigenous Arrernte community to be one of the major creation forces of Alice Springs, the heart of the Australian outback. Illuminated from the inside, the vibrantly lit caterpillars will be accompanied by an audio soundscape and narration by local Indigenous Elder to bring the story to life.
- Grounded: A sequence of artworks by Indigenous artists from Alice Springs will be projected onto the desert sands with their own atmospheric soundscape. The projections merge art with the landscape, symbolising the return of Indigenous art to the Country – the common thread of all selected paintings. Artworks featured include Mervyn Rubuntja, Wenton Rubuntja, Myra Ah Chee, Gloria Pannka and Hubert Pareroultja. The series was created with curatorial assistance from the Araluen Arts Centre (Araluen Cultural Precinct) and Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre in Alice Springs.
- Inti Ljapa Ljapa Irapakalam (Butterfly Going Round and Round): A series of five large, illuminated skirts feature the circular watercolour landscape paintings of five Alice Springs artists including Lenie Namatjira (granddaughter of one of Australia’s best known Aboriginal painters, Albert Namatjira), Reinhold Inkamala, Ivy Pareroultja, Therese Ryder and Hubert Pareroultja. The colourful 1950s-style skirts celebrate the landscape of Ntaria country and the era in which Albert Namatjira was celebrated, and are accompanied by an original soundscape of the artists’ narration. The steel frames supporting the skirts are made by the Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd in Alice Springs. The skirts feature circular illustrations of the West MacDonnell Ranges with an endless horizon that leads to one central sky. As audiences move around the skirts they will follow the unbroken horizon and take on the flying path of the emerging butterflies that populate the Arrernte songlines.
Anthony Bastic, Director, AGB Events, said Parrtjima is set to become a popular fixture on Australia’s events calendar.
“The sheer scale of the lighting on the MacDonnell Ranges is beyond imaginable, and will tell a layered, interactive and personal story from artists, Elders and the local Indigenous community. It will set this authentic and contemporary experience apart from anything we’ve ever seen before.”
During the festival, visitors can gather in the Festival Hub and enjoy an array of non-alcoholic beverages and local family friendly fare, while taking in the beautiful surrounds of Alice Springs Desert Park.