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The Sydney Opera House Will Start Lighting Up Its Sails Nightly Again with First Nations Art

Returning from April 23, the projection series will display its first all-female lineup.
By Sarah Ward
March 16, 2021
By Sarah Ward
March 16, 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 Vivid, to launch Mardi Gras and to support bushfire relief — and, as part of Badu Gili, the nightly showcase of First Nations artworks that was first launched in 2017.

While the harbourside spot hasn't been decking out its sails with projections every night of late, that's changing from Friday, April 23, which is when a new Badu Gili series will start 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.

Curated by Coby Edgar, the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Badu Gili: Wonder Women marks 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 be illuminated with a projection of a vibrant six-minute animation, all depicting artworks from the AGNSW's collection.

The animation will repeat three more times each night — approximately every hour, but the timing changes every evening depending on the season and whatever might be on 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.

Anna Kucera

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 April, May and June, with further details yet to be announced.

Badu Gili: Wonder Women will light up the Sydney Opera House's sails every night from Friday, April 23.

Top image: render of Kaylene Whiskey's 'Dolly visits Indulkan' as part of Badu Gili: Wonder Women. Courtesy of Sydney Opera House.

Published on March 16, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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