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Bundjalung language and story to light up Lismore Quad


Sharlene King
14 May 2019

A spectacular, multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history and story will occupy all of Lismore’s cultural precinct for four nights next week (Thursday May 23 – Sunday May 26, 6pm to 9pm). Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning) is a major new Australian work by internationally acclaimed digital artist Craig Walsh commissioned by The Lismore Quad.

“We wanted to create a powerful and beautiful experience of Bundjalung language and culture that could be enjoyed by all generations and reflected The Quad’s history as a place of learning,” says Marisa Snow, Creative Producer and Quad Placemaking Officer. “The timing of this world premiere to coincide with Reconciliation Week is particularly significant with the recent landmark recognition of Bundjalung native title in our region and 2019 being the Year of Indigenous Languages Worldwide.”

Two years in the making, Dungarimba Wandarahn was created in collaboration with Southern Cross University’s Indigenous School Gnibi Wandarahn and Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar high school and Southern Cross University students, researchers and arts practitioners.

Read more: Looking, listening, learning

Craig Walsh (L); SCU students Eden Crawford-Harriman, Narelle Johnson; Gnibi Director of Teaching & Learning Janine Dunleavy; Aunty Irene Harrington; Gnibi Director Norm Sheehan; Sheldon Harrington.

The story

Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning) is inspired by the stories and recollections of Bundjalung Elder, Aunty Irene Harrington. Aunty Irene was one of the first Aboriginal students to attend Lismore High School in the 1950s –now the Lismore Library and Conservatorium of Music in The Quad. Aunty Irene lived on Cubawee mission in South Lismore where she learnt her traditional Widjabul language and then went each day to Lismore High School where she says her language and culture was ‘swept under the carpet’. Aunty Irene’s story, like Bundjalung languages, is one of resilience and survival. Protection and revival of Indigenous language is a passion of Aunty Irene’s and her family. She was one of a group of Widjabul Elders who were responsible for passing Australia’s first Indigenous Languages Bill through the State Parliament in 2017.

Listen to an excerpt of the work featuring Aunty Irene Harrington here

“This project depicts Aboriginal community reconnection through language to the future,” says Professor Norm Sheehan, Director of Gnibi Wandarahn at Southern Cross University.

“Aunty Irene’s life shows us the power and beauty of connection as it flows through this work.”

The experience

Dungarimba Wandarahn is a powerful multi-sensory experience of Aunty Irene Harrington’s memories as a young Aboriginal girl straddling two worlds in the 1950s. The original Lismore High School is animated with large-scale projections and a soundscape depicting her experience of a white education system. A large dome constructed on the grass over a sand circle evokes traditional Bundjalung story, language and song with music composed by Brett Canning from Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar and didgeridoo from local musician Tom Avery.

Audiences are invited to experience the work however they choose - lying down under the stars and listening, walking around each of the spaces, or sitting on a picnic rug while the kids play in the sand circle covered with animated projections of Bundjalung art. The precinct will include fire pits, an outdoor bar, mulled wine and food from Slate café.

Student mentoring

Students and staff from Southern Cross University’s Indigenous School Gnibi Wandarhan and the School of Arts and Social Sciences have collaborated on researching, producing and devising Dungarimba Wandarahn.

Narelle Johnson is in her final year of a Digital Media and Communications degree and has worked closely with Creative Producer Marisa Snow and artist Craig Walsh to research the history of The Quad. Elements of her research relating to Indigenous assimilation policies will be projected on the library.

Eden Crawford-Harriman from the Contemporary Music degree, majoring in Sound Production, is the project’s Production Coordinator and has been documenting the work through video, still photography and assisting the production team with the technical delivery.

Sound designer Brett Canning is an accomplished musician and music teacher at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School. His students have helped design and produce the soundscape element of the work.

Dungarimba Wandarahn

Artist and Creative Director: Craig Walsh

Sound Designer: Brett Canning

Post Production: Steven Thomasson

Creative Producer: Marisa Snow

Cultural Custodians: Sheldon Harrington and Irene Harrington

Event Details:

Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning)

A multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history and story created by internationally acclaimed digital artist Craig Walsh.

Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 May, 6pm-9pm (production plays on a continuous loop)

Opening Ceremony 6pm Thursday 23rd

The Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore

Free Entry

More information:

About the Quad

The Lismore Quadrangle (the Quad) is an open - air precinct located in Lismore's CBD in the Northern Rivers of NSW. The Quad precinct connects the Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore City Library and the Northern Rivers Conservatorium. The activation of the Quad as Lismore's creative playground is a strategic partnership between Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council. The Quad presents a cross-disciplinary annual program and is also a community space for hire.