“To understand our connection with the universe we have always looked two ways; everything is written twice, once in the ground and once in the sky.”
Rhoda Roberts AO, Parrtjima Curator
Aboriginal Australians are the first naturalists, the first astronomers and the first scientists.
This year at Parrtjima discover the desert sky above Arrernte country in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and cherish the symbolic values of Arrernte people and how they are connected to sky.
The 2022 theme of ‘Sky Country’ focuses on everyone’s place in the universe, with an emphasis on the elements of sky, air and wind.
Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO said ‘Sky Country’ “is an important part of the ecology and philosophy of aboriginal culture.
“We honour our land, our water, our culture,” she said.
“A lot of people haven’t heard of ‘Sky Country’. We thought it would be a really nice introduction to Central Australia and Parrtjima. Here’s another trip you can make to see a totally different version of Country from the sky.”
Stepping on the red dirt people feel grounded but with a new gaze upwards under the majestic night skies of Central Australia, ‘Sky Country’ is also a discovery of the constellations.
They have guided generations of Arrernte people across their homelands.
Reading the sky helps Aboriginal people understand their place on Country. They’ve long used the heavens above to plan their harvest and hunting seasons. The tipped wingspan of the eagle warned of predators, while the winds determined what needed to be harvested.
“Knowing the sky is the first step. The passing on of stories, retold from generation to generation, also speaks of how everything is so much bigger than us and needs to be protected,” said Rhoda.
“When we think of ‘Sky Country’ one of the big dreaming stories that come to mind is budgerigar dreaming.
“They are very important to aboriginal people as they are the water finders. Different elements in next year’s installations will bring stories like this alive.”
‘Sky Country’ offers a new way to look at the world and sparks curiosity. In 2022, the Parrtjima program will tell the story of sky, air and wind through light shows, installations, art, music, talks, films, workshops and performance.
Join us and experience a timeless, living culture expressed in fresh, creative ways in the heart of Australia.
Come and find your place on Country.