• Badu Gili was curated by the Opera House’s Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO with the support of Artists in Motion. (Opera House)Source: Opera House
Songlines and ancient ceremonies will blanket the Sydney Opera House every sunset as contemporary artwork.
Claudianna Blanco

29 Jun 2017 - 3:05 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2017 - 4:44 PM

On Wednesday night, visitors to Sydney Harbour were the first to experience ‘Badu Gili’ (Water Light, in Gadigal language) the new mesmerising art projection to light up the Sydney Opera House sails every evening.

The Opera House’s Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts, curated the artwork. She told NITV News the launch had been a meaningful experience for those who attended.

It was surprising to see how many people said they were moved by the content and what it stood for. A lot of people commented on the significance of the work and the varied styles of the artists’ works,” she said.

The artwork includes the works of five artists from across Australia and the Torres Straits, including artists Jenuarrie (Judith Warrie), a Koinjmal woman from the Eastern coastal plains of Central Queensland; Frances Belle Parker, from Yaegl country in Northern NSW; Alick Tipoti and the late Lin Onus and Minnie Pwerle; accompanied by soundscapes from Damian Robinson, from Wicked Beat Sound System. The music features vocals from Djakapurra Munyarryun, Cecil Mcleod, Taryn Beatty, Honey Beatty and Travis De Vries.

Ms Roberts believes the installation has an uplifting effect for many, at a time where there has growing fear in many Indigenous communities about the loss of culture.

“I think there was worry from many senior law men and women that we’re at a very critical stage as people of this country…  We have stories that connect sea and land that have been told for thousands of thousands of years, and those stories give us the mechanisms of our society. They show us the sciences of water, ecology… they tell us where the abundance is. The knowledge is about preserving and caretaking and how to live in an often hard environment.

“If we were to lose that knowledge, which is the essence of everything we are, would we be the generation in our entire history as the longest living continuous culture – would be we the generation to lose that link of our Songlines? That’s a very frightening thing,” she said.

Watch the unveiling:

Ms Roberts explained that the artworks on display are actually incredibly ancient stories told in a very contemporary manner.

“All these artists are capturing stories that were often told in ceremony. I feel incredibly proud that so many of the audience understood the essence of why we need to do this and celebrating living in an era where First Peoples can have a voice,” she added. 

The projections will be displayed every night at sunset, and again at 7 o'clock, as the iconic sails will light up with works for seven minutes, providing visitors with an ongoing daily experience that will increase the visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

The project has been on the boil since 2012 and there are plans to have 5 different segments of the 7 minutes over the next three years.

Last night’s premiere was kicked off by Jannawi Dance Clan performing as part of the welcome and smoking ceremony.

‘Badu Gili’ has been launched to coincide with the year of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, on the eve of NAIDOC Week and the world premiere of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s new production, Bennelong.

Bangarra brings Bennelong’s story to life through an enchanting theatrical dance performance
The dance company's new production has premiered on the site of Bennelong's home, where the Sydney Opera House now stands.
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