Celebrating Culture and Heritage | McGrath

Celebrating Culture and Heritage

Issue 5
04/03/2020 | 6 MIN READ

Parrtjima illuminates Alice Springs once again

The annual festival, Parrtjima, A Festival in Light, returns to Alice Springs from 3-12 April 2020. This year’s instalment rings in the new decade with an electrifying program filled with inspiring Aboriginal artworks, immersive light installations, guest talks and live music performances. Approaching its fifth year, the much-anticipated celebration is the only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind in the world, honouring Australia’s oldest living culture through technology, music, storytelling and art. 


Setting the scene is a show-stopping backdrop of the 300-million-year-old Macdonnell Ranges in Alice Springs, Central Australia. Home of the Arrernte people, the Ranges provide an incredible natural canvas for this free, public event that combines art and ideas with the sounds and rhythms of Australia. 


The 2020 theme is ‘Lifting Our Spirits,’ led under the artistic direction of AGB Events’ First Nations Adviser, Rhoda Roberts AO, who returns for her third year with the festival. 


“Parrtjima will continue to tell Aboriginal stories rooted in the past; a past when the Red Centre was almost entirely covered by a vast sea populated with marine life. It is this connection to water, kwatye; the six seasons of Country; and to the sky, stars and moon which will be explored,” said Roberts. 


Throughout the 10-night festival, visitors will be able to gain new perspectives through uncovering the layers of Aboriginal culture in Australia’s largest, one-of-a-kind natural outdoor gallery experience. 


“The installations and light show capture the essence of diverse artistic practices,” says Roberts. “Along with an incredible program that features music, film and talks, enhancing the many ways in which Aboriginal artists, performers and custodians celebrate and evolve, while staying true to the ancient philosophy of connection and Country.” 


A first-time installation to this year’s festival is Werte, Meeting Place, an interactive artwork inspired by the work of Kumalie Kngwarraye Riley. Based on the concentric and lineal work of meeting place symbols, Werte is a collection of structures that take audiences on a journey to experience the meeting place as a culturally significant site. Each structure serves as a canvas for a different artist, with paintings reimagined into an installation of light and sound. 


A festival favourite, Grounded returns in 2020 with new illuminations, spectacular lighting and an experience of Aboriginal culture like no other. One of the feature artworks, Grounded, Women’s Hairstring Dreaming by Alison Multa showcases kungkaku puturru, a hairstring ceremony connected to the Tjukurrpa place Kungkayunti (Brown’s Bore), where the ancestral women stopped and danced in celebration. 


Other enticing events include a series of talks titled, Deep Listening, which explores a thought-provoking Aboriginal-led film programme and Fire Stories which invites festival-goers to listen to local storytellers. Guests will also be able to engage in a memorable series of live cabarets, music performances and workshops at Todd Mall across the festival days. 


Suitable for people of all ages and walks of life, Parrtjima is a festival that is inclusive as it is beautiful, with the entire schedule curated to ensure plenty of fun for the whole family. 
“Parrtjima is an opportunity for all Australians to be immersed in a rich and ancient heritage,” says Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) Director Engagement and Culture, Paul Ah Chee Ngala. “We are immensely proud that Parrtjima continues to raise the profile of Aboriginal artists, immersing visitors in the art, culture and people of the Red entre for a unique taste of Central Australia.”


Unlike anything else the country has to offer, Parrtijma is an exclusive opportunity to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Australia’s First Peoples in an environment that may just be one of the world’s best vistas.


Parrtjima, A Festival in Light runs from April 3-12 2020 at Alice Springs Desert Park and Todd Mall in Alice Springs CBD, Northern Territory. The event is free and open to the public.