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Listening with Heart

On Arrernte Country in the Red Centre, under the blanket of a billion stars, Parrtjima returns to illuminate the rugged natural landscape over 10 beautiful light-filled nights.

By Tierney Seccull

Created to celebrate the culture and connection of Arrernte people to Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Parrtjima has enticed thousands to the desert for a magical and immersive experience since its inception in 2016.

The theme for this year is Listening with Heart, inspired by the artwork surrounding the Statement from the Heart. Led by Maruku artist Rene Kulitja, the original work was created by a group of artists from Multijulu and portrays the Uluru-Ku Tjukurrpa (The Uluru Story of connection).

This year, Kulitja has joined forces with artists to bring the artwork to life in an immersive light installation. Hear the ancient songlines of the Aŋangu people of the Aŋangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands as you navigate through the large-scale installation, and learn about the deep connection to land, water and sky country. AGB Events First Nations Advisor and Parrtjima Curator Rhoda  Roberts AO says momentum is building for these special experiences.

“There has been a growing realisation across the nation that Australia has something incredibly unique – its First Peoples ... The installation will remind people of the eons of oral storytelling, and the story of Kuniya and Liru that shaped the landscape of Uluru through art.”

Parrtjima features a range of unique light installations, including the iconic Lighting of the MacDonnell Ranges, using modern-day technology to cast light over the 300-million-year-old natural canvas. A packed program unfolds over the 10-night festival, featuring interactive workshops, thought-provoking talks, cultural performances, music, film and more.

It’s an impacting experience to hear the stories of the world’s oldest living culture as you tread Country, made more poignant by art, colour, light, language and music.

Someone keen to check it all out for the first time is newly appointed CEO of Northern Territory Major Events Company, Suzana Bishop.

“This will be my first Parrtjima and I’m really excited. It’s been a privilege to get to know the event, which is truly unique thanks to its stunning location and varied program," she says.

"What makes it extra special is the input from the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group, which is made up of Arrernte Traditional Owners and Elders. Their input ensures the festival is truly authentic.”

For 10 luminous, starlit nights of culture, Country and connection, make tracks to Mparntwe, and be part of Parrtjima.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light

Photo: Artist’s impression of Parrtjima 2023

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