THE re-emergence of the Bundjalung language is set to hit a crescendo with the work internationally renowned multi-media artist, Craig Walsh, in The Quad next month.
Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning) is a collaboration between Southern Cross University's Indigenous School Gnibi Wandarahn, and Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, Terranora, and will tell the story of how the region's indigenous language has been saved.
As part of the work, Bundjalung Elder, Aunty Irene Harrington, who last year saw the Bill for Aboriginal Languages passed through the NSW Parliament, will tell her experiences as a young Aboriginal student at Lismore High School in the 1950s.
"Through the form of a large scale visual projections and audio installations, Irene's story will virtually "take over" Lismore's historical educational institutions," said Mr Walsh.
"The heritage listed site of the Lismore Quadrangle (now the Conservatorium of Music and Lismore Library) will be lit up with Bundjalung language and history."
While attending Lismore High School, Aunty Irene was living on the mission where it was forbidden to speak the language of her elders.
"The language was kept under the rug," she said.
As a result, images of a carpet, and other connections to country will come to "dominate" the walls of the high school," said Mr Walsh.
Aunty Irene speaks of her pride at having the sanctity of the Aboriginal language ratified in parliament saying: "now you can't stop it, it's everywhere".
The project secured funding from the NSW Government's Heritage Near Me program aimed at helping communities conserve and share their local heritage.
Director of Gnibi Wandarahn, Norm Sheehan, said Irene Harrington's story was specific to the Lismore area but resonated with the experience of many Aboriginal people of her generation.
The way in which Dungarimba Wandarahn juxtaposes two cultures and ways of learning, Bundjalung and Western, is a "major showcase for the Aboriginal language and mark of the culture's resilience and strength".
"Living connections sustain us through our families and our Country. We are also connected to the terrible impact of colonisation in our homelands. Through this connection we have realised our strength and resilience. This project depicts our reconnection through language to the future. Aunty Irene's life shows us the power and beauty of connection as it flows through this work."
A Tweed Heads local, Craig Walsh is renowned internationally for his pioneering works including innovative approaches to projection mapping in unconventional sites. Over a 30-year career he has created works for more than 20 international art festivals, Biennales and Triennials; exhibited in numerous major art institutions in Australia and produced public art commissions from Cairns to Parramatta.
Mr Walsh has also been the creative producer for the Splendour in the Grass Arts Program for the past 15 years.
"I feel very privileged to have been asked to be part of Dungarimba Wandarahn," said Mr Walsh.
" It reclaims the Lismore Quadrangle as a historic 'place of learning', recognising the importance of cultural knowledge as essential to education."
Dungarimba Wandarahn takes place from Thursday to Sunday, May 23-26
6pm-9pm (production plays on a continuous loop)
The Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore
This is not a seated show, the audience are encouraged to explore and interact with the work.
More information: www.lismorequad.org.au