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By Concrete Playground
May 25, 2021
By Concrete Playground
May 25, 2021

It's one of the city's best-known landmarks, so when the Sydney Opera House illuminates its sails, it stands out. You've seen the venue lit up for Vividto launch Mardi Gras and to support bushfire relief — and, as part of Badu Gili, the nightly showcase of First Nations artwork that was first launched in 2017.

While the harbourside spot hasn't been decking out its sails with projections every night of late, that changed from Friday, April 23, with a new Badu Gili series gracing the Opera House's exterior each evening. This time around, it's called Badu Gili: Wonder Women, and focuses on the work and stories of six female First Nations artists. And, as part of Sydney Solstice, the affair will be dubbed Badu Gili: Winter Nights, which will run from June 8–20.

Curated by Coby Edgar, the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Badu Gili: Wonder Women is a creative collaboration between the Opera House and AGNSW to mark the latter's 150th anniversary. As the sun sets each day, the Opera House's eastern Bennelong sail will illuminate with a vibrant six-minute animated projection.

The animation will repeat three more times each night — approximately every hour, but the timing changes every evening depending on the season and events at the Opera House's Forecourt.

Badu Gili also ran in 2018; however, for its third go-around in 2021, it'll display its first all-female lineup. Sydneysiders will be able to peer up at work from Wathaurung elder Marlene Gilson, Yankunytjatjara woman Kaylene Whiskey and Luritja woman Sally Mulda, which'll feature alongside pieces by Western Arrernte women Judith Inkamala and Marlene Rubuntja, and the late Kamilaroi woman Elaine Russell.

While you're looking up, you'll be taking in pieces inspired by the artists' life stories and shared histories, which includes the Eureka Stockade and mission days, 2019-20's bushfires, an imagined world of superheroes, family encounters and ordinary life in First Nations communities.

The visual component of Badu Gili — which translates to 'water light' in the language of the site's traditional owners, the Gadigal people — will also be accompanied by a return of Badu Gili Live. The free outdoor music series will run throughout May and June, with performances from Mi-kaisha, Leah Flanagan, and Bow and Arrow.

Plus, between Tuesday, June 8 and Sunday, June 20, the Sydney Opera House forecourt will feature Babu Gili Winter Nights with music, talks, poetry readings and a pop-up bar serving drinks and snacks inspired by native Australian ingredients as part of Sydney's new winter arts festival Sydney Solstice.

Ken Leanfore


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