Spectacular Parrtjima light show exceeds expectations

Written by Andrea Johnston, Centralian Advocate, Alice Springs NT

27 September 2016

THE MacDonnell Ranges were lit up in spectacular fashion in Alice Springs on Friday night as the Parrtjima Festival in Light unveiled a highly anticipated visual experience. General manager of the Northern Territory Major Events Company, Andrew Hopper, said a “tasteful” and “respectful” level of light had been used to create a “very different” experience.

Far from controversy over the stories used, Mr Hopper explained the ranges were simply a canvas for colours and patterns, while other instillations had been created in consultation with the Many Hands Art Centre and the Araluen Cultural Precinct. “The beauty of the festival is people can dictate what goes on the ranges so they can select the colours and silhouettes,” Mr Hopper said.

He explained a booth would be open to the general public for two minutes at a time, and while one projection is happening the next people would make their choices. A “hero piece” would be shown every 30 minutes.

Mr Hopper acknowledged criticism of “secrecy” around the show, but explained the creative process had been in full flow right up until the night before the opening. He explained it was a challenge to get everything done in the timescale provided, difficult to discuss things which weren’t set in stone, and impossible to show the aim of the festival without any visuals, because it hadn’t happened yet.

“We consulted with a range of indigenous groups and individuals which led to things like the naming of the event:Parrtjima means to light up or provide meaning,” Mr Hopper said.

Anthony Bastic, the founder and director of AGB Events which is providing the technical expertise, said recent downpours had brought unexpected challenges. “Working with the natural landscape and having Mother Nature take its course with a great downpour . we had to slightly change the colour pallets because of the green,” Mr Bastic said. He said it was an “absolute honour” to work in Alice Springs, where the team had created an outdoor gallery of light.

Lights called Colour Reachers would fill the main canvas of the MacDonnell Range, while aquabeams would provide the “20th Century Fox” style animations and lasers would be shone above the ranges to create a cloud effect, inspired by the northern lights.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light takes place over 10 nights, from September 23 and October 2.

Visitors can access the event via the Larapinta bike track or the free event shuttle bus, which will collect passengers every 10 minutes from 6pm daily at six locations around Alice Springs.

Pick-up and drop-off locations include Star of Alice bus stop, Lasseters Convention Centre/Casino, Council Chambers, Araluen Cultural Precinct, Albrecht Oval Carpark and Desert Park bus stop.

Gates will open to the public at Alice Springs Desert Park for two sessions each night from 6:30pm-8:30pm and 8:30pm-10:30pm.

For more information and to register to attend, visit www.parrtjimaAustralia.com.au.