Australia’s ancient songlines will weave across the sails of the Sydney Opera House from 6pm on27 May as part of the first Indigenous Lighting the Sails at Vivid Sydney, in a spectacular animation co-curated by Destination NSW and the Sydney Opera House.
Songlines is inspired by the ancient dreaming tracks that weave across the landscape and skies, featuring the work of six renowned Indigenous artists: Karla Dickens, Djon Mundine OAM, Reko Rennie, Gabriella Possum, Donny Woolagoodja and the late Gulumbu Yunipingu.
Songlines Director and Sydney Opera House Head of Indigenous Programming Rhoda Robertssays: “The songlines have been connecting Australian Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Songlines is a monumental work and an unprecedented opportunity for people around the world to really connect with the culture of Australia’s First People and glimpse the old trade routes that connected us all to country.
“The songlines are a living map and an archive of our culture. These pieces of art bring an entirely new look to the Opera House – steeped in tradition but so contemporary and relevant today. I simply cannot wait to see it unveiled during Vivid Sydney.”
Vivid Sydney Creative Director Ignatius Jones says: “It is an honour to have these artists sharing such a profound cultural story of Australia’s Aboriginal people through Songlines at Vivid Sydney.
“Each year Vivid Sydney showcases art and innovation, and cutting-edge animation has been utilised to bring the Songlines projection to life. By placing Songlines on our most significant cultural icon, we put Indigenous art at the heart of Australian culture and showcase this amazing story to visitors across the world.”
The music accompanying Songlines is composed and designed by Rhoda Roberts and Damien Robinson, the creative force behind Sydney’s Wicked Beat Sound System and features songmenDjakapurra Munyarryun and Cecil McLeod. The music explores the themes of salt water, fresh water, sky, wind and the desert.
That has a particular resonance on Bennelong Point, known to the Gadigal for thousands of years as Tubowgule, which means where the knowledge waters meet. Songlines honours Tubowgule’s rich history as a gathering place for community, ceremony, songs, storytelling and celebration.
Contemporary Indigenous visual artists from across the country interpret the songlines through distinctive symbols, patterning and imagery representative of the stories of their clans and groups. Songlines has been animated for the Opera House sails by award-winning studio Artists In Motion. A tapestry of moving images tracing the songlines from the east, across the centre, to the north and to the west of the country will be projected in a breathtaking display.
Charged with being a meeting place for matters of local, national and international significance, the Sydney Opera House continues the traditions of its site on Bennelong Point through a year-round program celebrating the richness of First Nations culture through dance, music and talks events.
Songlines will run each night from 6pm to 11pm from 27 May to 18 June.
Vivid LIVE, the Sydney Opera House’s annual contemporary music takeover, runs from 27 May to 13 June.