Lighting up a 300-Million-Year-Old Canvas near Alice Springs

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Sep 23, 2016

by ALEX GREIG, Online Writer

The MacDonnell Ranges are being lit up for the Parrtjima art and culture festival.

A new arts festival in Alice Springs will shine a light on dramatic rock formations around the red centre.

For 10 nights from September 23, the majestic MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs are being illuminated as part of the Parrtjima festival, a showcase of contemporary and traditional Indigenous art, culture and storytelling using light and sound. 

The festival is the result of collaboration between the Northern Territory government, AGB Events (whose work with lights can be seen each year at the Vivid Sydney festival) and local Aboriginal artists, students and the community.

Expert lighting technicians consulted with the local Arrente community to interpret stories of the Dreaming and convert them into light works.

Two-and-a-half kilometres of the ranges, located just outside Alice Springs, are being illuminated, as well as a series of installations in Alice Springs Desert Park, including the remarkable Inti Ljapa Ljapa Irapakalam (Butterfly Going Round and Round), a sculptural work of five large skirts painted with landscapes by some of the area’s best-known artists, including Lenie Namatjira, granddaughter of the late Albert Namatjira. 

Another work, Yeperenye Tales (Caterpillars) consists of enormous, light-filled caterpillars decorated by children from Amoonguna School. The caterpillar has significance in Indigenous folklore as a central creation force of Alice Springs. A local Elder will relate the story of the caterpillar to festivalgoers.

Local cafes and caterers will provide food and drinks in the Festival Hub or visitors can take their own picnic to the stunning surrounds of Alice Springs Desert Park.

A free shuttle bus from Alice Springs will pick up passengers every 10 minutes from 6pm, or you can rent a bike and ride the Larapinta bike track to the event.

From September 23 to October 2.

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