Artistic and Cultural Collaborators

"The most important thing for us is to keep passing on our culture to the coming generations. Parrtjima helps us show the world that this is Arrernte country and how beautiful it is.

Parrtjima shows people that the country is alive, so that visitors and all the non-Arrernte people who live here can have deeper respect for it, and start to see how much it means to us. We want people to understand that it has always been a part of us. Parrtjima helps our young people stand tall in front of the world to say, ‘This is our country, this is our art, and this is our culture – and it is good’.”

Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens, Traditional Owner Apmereke-artweye of Mparntwe

Previous artworks featured in the Parrtjima – A Festival in Light installations come from artists and arts centres from a variety of places in the central desert including artists from the Arrernte, Luritja, Anmatyerre, Warlpiri and Pitjantjatjara Nations.

Parrtjima’s 2018/2019 curator, Rhoda Roberts, said: “As one expression of an ever-adapting culture, the artworks featured in Parrtjima continue a tradition of using varying mediums and new ways of telling a story while continuing an ancient practice of listening to and ‘painting up’ country.

Respected senior Arrernte people have given event organisers permission to display these artworks on Arrernte country to help teach people about the importance of culture, show the ways that art can help provide healing and strength, and to help “bring the relevance back in for young people”.

These senior Arrernte people, who Parrtjima organisers have been told have traditional rights to speak and care for this area, have said: “We are supporting Parrtjima because it shows people our art. It shows people our culture. It shows the beauty of it. Us, who are supporting it have looked at it, and we see that it doesn’t hurt country. It helps to open people’s eyes, to show them the beauty. We think it’s good.”

The artworks were submitted to Parrtjima through a call-out to 40 Aboriginal arts centres across the central desert region, inviting artists to share their art and culture with Australia and the world. Other artworks came from collaboration with local Arrernte artists, as the festival is on their nation’s traditional country. Each artist is fully briefed on the event and briefings continue throughout the development of the program.

Once the artwork is submitted, Parrtjima organisers present the creative concepts to the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group (PFRG) and an ever-increasing network respected Arrernte people who organisers have been told have traditional rights to speak and care for this area. These people advise Parrtjima organisers about the cultural appropriateness of those paintings for the country in which they are being displayed. The PFRG and extended network provide advice and guidance to Parrtjima organisers on Aboriginal matters that relate to the artistic program and its cultural appropriateness.

Through the artistic vision of curator, Rhoda Roberts AO, in collaboration with NT Major Events Company and AGB Events, under the guidance of the PFRG and the approvals of appropriate organisations, these paintings then become large-scale illuminated installations, designed to facilitate wonder and cultural respect. Set in the ancient landscape of Mparntwe (Alice Springs), the installations are a spectacular experience of culture, country, language and art for all to enjoy.

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is an initiative of the Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) who works in collaboration with AGB Events, Creative Consultants and Producers.