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The festival of Aboriginal and Pacific cultures

The strength and diversity of Aboriginal dance, art, storytelling and song will be celebrated by the Australian Museum (AM) with the launch of Weave, its inaugural Festival of Aboriginal and Pacific cultures, on 1 March 2018.

The month-long festival features exhibitions, performances, films, talks, hands-on workshops and the creation of a new major sculpture dedicated to Sydney’s Aboriginal women.

Respected Elders, artisans and community groups will weave together their knowledge and stories to build a better understanding of First Nations cultures across Australia and the region.

The centerpiece of Weave is Gadi, a landmark exhibition celebrating the rich culture of Aboriginal Sydney through historical, contemporary and archaeological material from the AM’s collections, some of which will be shown in public for the first time.

Headlining the exhibition will be the creation on-site, by Elders and master weavers, of a major sculptural installation dedicated to Aboriginal fisherwomen, which includes a four-metre-long woven canoe.

Weave will also feature the world premiere of the ground-breaking virtual reality film Carriberrie, which takes viewers on an exhilarating 3D journey across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance and music, from Uluru to Moa and Sydney Harbour.

Narrated by award-winning actor and dancer David Gulpilil, the 360° live-action documentary explores a stunning array of locations and performances, from ceremonial dances in the Central Desert, to a modern-day performance in Sydney by Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay AO said the museum’s Festival of Aboriginal and Pacific cultures will bring historical and contemporary objects and experiences to life through storytelling, creative arts and the sharing of knowledge.

“Weave is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to explore the rich culture, history and resilience of the world’s oldest living cultures,” she said. “The AM’s inaugural Festival of Aboriginal and Pacific cultures will weave together historical and modern knowledge, art and experiences, to build a better shared future for all Australians.”

Australian Museum Creative Producer (First Nations) Laura McBride said Weave had empowered Aboriginal and Pacific staff and their communities to present their own stories.

“The most rewarding and accurate way to learn about another culture is from the people themselves,” she said. “Weave is a new opportunity to immerse yourself in Aboriginal and Pacific culture in events and exhibitions, designed and led by Aboriginal and Pacific people.”

Weaving is a cultural practice shared by First Peoples in our region. The word “weave” illustrates how the festival will bring together historical and new knowledge, including:

  • Gadi exhibition: celebration of the culture of Aboriginal Sydney, including the creation of a new major sculptural installation dedicated to Indigenous fisherwomen.
  • Carriberrie VR film: celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance and music.
  • Meet the Elders: witness Elders and master weavers creating nawi’s (canoes) for the GADI exhibition’s new sculptural installation.
  • Magura (fish) weaving workshops: Elders and master weavers teach weaving techniques and ecological knowledge.
  • Tuvalu video installation: acclaimed Pacific artist Angela Tiatia’s video reveals the impact of climate change and rising tides on the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu.
  • Oceania Connections: co-presented as part of Weave and the AM’s Culture Up Late series, Oceania Connections features dances, music and tours.
  • Gifts of Life in the Shadow of Death talk: co-presented as part of Weave and the AM’s HumanNature series, Deborah Bird Rose investigates the importance of gift-giving.
  • Aboriginal meditation: join a meditation ceremony guided by Aboriginal cultural practitioners, offering an authentic and heartfelt introduction to Indigenous culture.
  • Barrabugu (For Tomorrow): co-presented as part of Weave and the AM’s Culture Up Late series, examine First Nations stories, language and knowledge.
  • Connection to Country screenings: documentary about the Aboriginal people of the Western Australian Pilbara and their battle against the mining industry.
  • “Tiny Tots” and “Mini Explorers”, children’s programs: led by Aboriginal educators, the Under-5s education programs teach children about local Gadigal culture and introduce weaving games in fun, interactive play sessions.

Weave will also showcase the AM’s cultural collections and First Australians galleries – home to the permanent exhibitions Garrigarrang: Sea Country and Bayala Nura: Yarning Country – which celebrate the history, spirituality and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The launch of Weave, on March 1 2018, will also mark the release of the AM’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy 2017-20, which recognizes the museum’s commitment to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, values and knowledge systems across the institution.

AM Trustee Robynne Quiggin, former Deputy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission, said the strategy would help inform and transform work across the museum.

“The strategy will broaden the AM’s shared understanding of the relationship between Western and Indigenous knowledges, and connect people with culture and nature in a way that is inspiring and informative.”

Source: Australian Museum

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