For the Noongar people, each year has six seasons. The traditional custodians of Western Australia’s south-west arrange their year on a deep knowledge of the climate, flora and fauna of their ancestral Country. October brings with it warmer weather and blooming wildflowers, marking the start of the Kambarang season of birth and renewal. This year, for the first time, this seaonal change will be marked with a new festival: EverNow.
From October 4 to 9, EverNow will celebrate the unique landscape, biodiversity and First Peoples of this part of WA with three special events – Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak, Fire Gardens and Song Circle.
Helmed by large-scale special event director Nigel Jamieson, (whose resume includes directing the Fifa Women's World Cup Welcome and the Ned Kelly opening sequence at the Sydney Olympics), Boorna Waanginy promises a multi-sensory display of sophisticated projection and audio that winds for 1.4 kilometres through Kings Park.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
“You go through this tunnel of huge trees to get through to the centre of the park, and we use this amazing projection technology to create images on those trees all the way down,” Jamieson, who worked closely with members of the Noongar community, tells Broadsheet. “The idea is that the trees come alive and they turn into this huge canvas. What’s so beautiful about it is the canvas has, say, 10,000 leaves in it, which are all shimmering at slightly different angles.”
Technicians will use state-of-the-art lidar technology to project 60-metre-high Noongar dancers onto the trees, accompanied by immersive audio of traditional storytelling and songs about the importance of creatures like the trapdoor spider. Jamieson hopes Boorna Waanginy will speak to wider concerns about our fragile environment.
“It’s a celebration of the beauty of the environment,” says Jamieson – and particularly the interrelationship between humans and the environment that has developed over 50,000 years. “And, after the challenges to that landscape that are coming just in the last 200 years, [it’s about] how we look back to that knowledge and cherish the place, and make sure it’s there for not just our kids and grandkids, but also those millions of species that we share it with.”
Fire Gardens will see French art collective Compagnie Carabosse working with Noongar custodian Mitchella 'Waljin' Hutchins to take over Government House Gardens for a weekend of live music, kinetic sculpture and an artistic approach to fire that, in previous installations, has featured 7000 giant, handcrafted candles. The fire theme returns to the Noongar Kambarang season, representing rebirth and regeneration, as well as a time-honoured setting for storytelling and traditional ceremonies.
For Song Circle, Noongar artists and language activists Boomerang and Spear will shine a light on Noongar song and language. Across five nights at the Supreme Court Gardens, singers and percussionists will perform Noongar song cycles in the round, atop a raised, revolving stage. Each set of songs is grounded in the animals and environment of the Perth, Great Southern and Esperance regions.
Jamieson is hopeful that, with such depth of local knowledge and traditions on display, visitors will learn from Noongar practices of caring for the world around us. “I feel really fortunate [to be involved], and a sort of sadness, too, that we haven’t made the best use of all that knowledge,” says Jamieson. “I’m looking forward to a future where we celebrate our incredible good fortune to have that culture and tradition.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tourism WA and Perth Festival Special Projects. EverNow is guided by Perth Festival’s Noongar Advisory Circle.