History is calling from the heart of the Red Centre

Parrtjima 2023 takes its cue from the Statement from the Heart, returning with a visual feast that thrives on deeper connections.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is set to return to the red landscape of Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Desert Park and Araluen Arts Centre from 7-16 April 2023.

Delivering spectacular visuals while drawing upon relevant social and cultural topics, next year Parrtjima will take its cue from the Statement from the Heart. The theme Listening with Heart embodies the concept of coming together, meeting, and taking the time to contemplate, connect and reflect.

The theme also reflects the festival’s Alice Springs location in the heart of the nation.

Among many highlights in 2023, a group of artists, led by Maruku artist Rene Kulitja, will create a show-stopping artwork depicting the Uluru Story of connection to Country.

The large-scale immersive sound and light installation will debut at Parrtjima 2023, bringing visitors on an immersive journey into the world of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Parrtjima Curator Rhoda Roberts AO says: ‘The installation at the heart of Parrtjima 2023 will take guests on a journey through the lands surrounding Uluru, Australia’s most iconic landmark. The installation will remind people of the eons of oral storytelling, and the story of Kuniya and Liru that helped shaped the landscape of Uluru.’

In addition, the 10-night free public festival will celebrate authentic stories from Aboriginal culture through a program of light installations, artworks, performances, interactive workshops, music, films, and in conversations and talks.

Parrtjima 2022, Kangaroo Grass. Image: Supplied.

The stories presented at Parrtjima 2023 have deep connections and are delivered with the cultural guidance of the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group, ensuring the transmission of cultural knowledge hosted by the Arrernte. These dazzling outcomes don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Roberts told ArtsHub in an earlier interview: ‘I truly believe that there is a real awakening in this country; more and more Australians want to have an authentic and original experience. And for First Nations Australians, some of the languages, song-lines and stories are now being shared and retold through relevant technology and cultural expression in the 21st Century – it’s vital as we continue to ensure a new generation of audiences connect with our ever adapting culture. That is full of wisdom and environmental, social and cultural knowledge.’

Sharing timeless stories in creative new ways in order to celebrate contemporary First Nations voices is an ethos that’s been delivered with integrity with every iteration of Parrtjima since its 2016 launch.

The event is also a major economic contributor to the Northern Territory, generating a Total Economic Stimulus of $14.7 million in 2022 alone – not to mention the many opportunities generating new avenues and economic independence for artists, communities and the many arts centres associated with Parrtjima. 

Parrtjima is set against the 300-million-year-old canvas of the MacDonnell Ranges and uses cutting-edge technology to ignite the desert landscape. More details on Parrtjima’s 2023 program will be announced next year.

Travel packages bring together the best of the region’s offerings. They include a special Parrtjima Preview Night, a Painting Tour at Hermannsburg Historic Precinct, a Nocturnal Encounter at Alice Springs Desert Park and an insight into bush foods on the Merne Tour.

Parrtjima is a free event, but registrations are required; find out more. Parrtjima is supported by the Northern Territory Government and delivered by the Northern Territory Major Events Company in conjunction with Creative Directors AGB Events.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram: @lleizy_