Lighting The Sails: Songlines

Sydney Only - Directed by the Head of Indigenous Programming at Sydney Opera House, Rhoda Roberts. Visual content and animation by Artists in Motion.

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Live audio stream 6pm - 11pm every evening until 18 June 2016


Listen to a live-streamed audio soundtrack while you watch Sydney Opera House transform into an animated canvas of Australian indigenous art featuring iconic contemporary works from Karla Dickens, Djon Mundine, Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi, Reko Rennie, Donny Woolagoodja, and the late Gulumbu Yunupingu.

Celebrating First Nations' spirituality and culture through the songlines of our land and sky, this year’s Lighting the Sails is about painting and celebrating country through a pattern of sharing systems, interconnected history lines and trade routes. Lighting the Sails Director and Head of Indigenous Programming at Sydney Opera House Rhoda Roberts has selected six artists of different clans, national estates and territories for an immersive projected artwork that weaves through time and distance.

As the first indigenous work commissioned exclusively for the sails of the Sydney Opera House, this visual tapestry will weave through personal journeys, while celebrating the timeless themes and enduring art of Australia's most influential contemporary First Nations artists, exclusive to Vivid Sydney.

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 songmen Djakapurra Munyarryun and Cecil McLeod. The music explores the themes of salt water, fresh water, sky, wind and the desert. 


Karla Dickens (Wiradjuri)

Karla Dickens was born in Sydney in 1967; the Year of the Referendum that gave Aboriginal people human status. A double dawn for Aboriginal people; a major national political and social shift, and an innocent newborn seemingly as yet without any connection to her history and Aboriginal heritage. Karla’s Aboriginality and sexuality profoundly inform her work – her insight and breadth of artistic practice both deeply embraces the notion of identity politics and yet works with universal human experiences.

Djon Mundine OAM (Bandjalung)

Djon Mundine is a member of the Bandjalung people of northern New South Wales. Djon has an extended career as a curator, activist, writer, and occasional artist and is renown as the concept curator for the Aboriginal Memorial installation permanently exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia. Djon was awarded an OAM in 1993 and is currently Indigenous Curator-Contemporary Art at the Campbelltown Art Centre.

Gabriella Possum (Nungurrayi)

Gabriella Possum was born in 1967 and she is the eldest daughter of the internationally renowned artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri who was awarded the Order of Australia in 2002. Gabriella is best known for her Seven Sisters paintings, with her iconic depiction of the Milky Way and she also paints Bush Tucker and Grandmother's Country stories.

Reko Rennie (Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gummaroi)

Through his art Reko explores what it means to be an urban Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society. Rennie received no formal artistic training but as a teenager discovered graffiti which became an all-consuming passion. His art and installations continually explore issues of identity, race, law & justice, land rights, stolen generations and other issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in contemporary society.

Donny Woolagoodja (Worora)

Donny, Mowanjum Artists Spirit of the Wandjina Aboriginal Corporation (MASWAC) chairman, is the fourth eldest of ten children. His father, Sam, was the last of the Worora banmen (lawman and medicine man).

Donny's remarkable upbringing bridges the white Christian beliefs he became aware of at the mission churches and the ancient Wandjina laws his father taught him allowing him to move easily between his Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.

Gulumbu Yunupingu (1954-2012, Gumatj)

Using distinctive white and black crosses on a red ground, Yolgnu artist Gulumbu Yunupingu (1945-2012) painted Garak, the starry universe, on barks and poles. She came to national prominence when she won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (2004), and to international acclaim in 2006 with her scaled-up version of Garak on permanent display at Musee du Quai Branly in Paris (2006).

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