Since 2017, the sails of Sydney Opera House have been illuminated in First Nations artwork as part of a regular program entitled Badu Gili – meaning 'water light' in the language of the Gadigal people. Coming off the back of Badu Gili: Wonder Woman, in which a lineup of exclusively female First Nations artists had their works projected on the structure, the program returns thanks to the first partnership between Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and Sydney Biennale.
So what can we expect from the latest chapter of Badu Gili? From December 15, the Eastern Bennelong sails of the Sydney Opera House will light up with artworks from Gail Mabo and Nikau Hindin. Hailing from Mer Island, Mabo has teamed up with Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi woman Hindin to present a six minute animation that pays homage to the sky and stars, playing at various intervals after sunset.
"The sky is for everybody, the stories which connect people are different everywhere, but the stars remain," says Gail Mabo. "At a time when people forget to look up I hope my work brings the sky and the best of the world closer for us to see."
The collaboration marries both artist's practices, featuring Mabo's star maps constructed out of bamboo and cotton alongside Hindin's Māori barkcloth, know as aute. Together the duo unveil their respective culture's ancient approach to celestial navigation, aided by animation from Yarnology and a soundtrack crafted by Nigel Westlake, Te Kahureremoa Taumata and Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes.
"It is an immense privilege as a manuhiri (guest) to this land, to adorn this space with Māori patterns that emerge from our creation stories and enduring textile practices of tukutuku and tāniko," Nikau Hindin said of the collaboration on Badu Gili: Celestial. "As a bark cloth maker with a revivalists agenda and obligation to continue the geneology of toi Māori, I hope my tūpuna would be proud of this new way of experiencing our patterns, sounds and worldview... These ways of knowing and being are essential to the healing of our land and seas and we are in solidarity with our older First Nation brothers and sisters here," Hindin continued.
Experience the free Badu Gili: Celestial projections each night after sunset and at 9pm, 9:30pm, 10pm and 10:30pm.