• A sculpture by Jacob Nash will be on display during the Sydney Festival. (Supplied)
A simple, yet powerful event planned for next year's Sydney Festival hopes to inspire reflection on the impact of colonisation on Indigenous Australians.
By
Jessica Washington

Source:
NITV News
26 Oct 2018 - 11:00 AM  UPDATED 26 Oct 2018 - 11:04 AM

A vigil will be held on January 25th as part of the Sydney Festival, the city’s annual celebration of arts, culture, and performance, as a means to encourage contemplation and a wider conversation about the repercussions of the arrival of the First Fleet. 

While Indigenous artists have always played a prominent role in the Sydney Festival, its director, Noonuccal Nuugi-man Wesley Enoch, believes the 2019 event will be particularly powerful.

“We’re inviting the people of Sydney, and those visiting, to reflect on what it would have been the day before the arrival of the First Fleet,” he said.

As part of the vigil, people will gather for the lighting of a fire, and to hear firsthand from Indigenous Elders about their experiences.

“We have no rituals to encourage people to think about building compassion for what Aboriginal people are feeling about that particular experience.”

Read more
Our weaving practices have been sleeping since colonisation': Quandamooka artist Elisa Jane Carmichael
2018 Telstra NATSIAA finalist Elisa Jane Carmichael speaks to NITV about her entry piece and how she's using her art practice to maintain and celebrate her culture.

Mr Enoch told NITV News he has been surprised by the buzz the event has already attracted.

“The more I talk about it, the more people are interested in it. I thought it would only be a thousand people, but it might be much bigger,” he said.

The respected artist believes Australians are ready for a more nuanced conversation about the past.

“As a nation, the whole change the date conversation around Australia Day, we've hit an impasse, and I think that's because we don't really know what the 26th of January really means to us,” he said.

“My feeling is that the 25th of January comes with no baggage. It's not a protest, it's not politically charged, it's an invitation to sit around a fire and just imagine what Indigenous Australians are going through now, and what they went through then.”

During January, a 28-metre wide sculpture by Bangarra set designer Jacob Nash with the declaration ‘ALWAYS’ will be installed for all Sydneysiders to see.

“I don’t what to dictate what the impact will be, I’m not here to socially engineer things, I’m just saying, this is an invitation to have a conversation,” Mr Enoch said.

“January is a time of New Year’s resolutions, and if this can be a cultural resolution, perhaps it will be something people will think about for the year, or even for the rest of their lives.”

OPINION: Why I chose to be an Indigenous Australia Day ambassador
How Jake Gablonski made being a #ChangeTheDate advocate and an official Australia Day ambassador work.
New campaign says it's time to really think about what impact Australia Day has on young Aboriginal people
A new campaign launched by youth organisation, Culture is Life, says that it's time for change - in our conversations.
OPINION: First reconciliation, then a republic – starting with changing the date of Australia Day
No ifs, no buts: Australia Day lands on the date in which the British flag was first raised in Sydney Cove in the act of colonisation.