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Winter Camp: wander the waterfront with a luminous spirit

Neon lights will brighten Sydney’s skyline as part of Vivid Sydney, the largest celebration of light in the southern hemisphere. Returning to the festival is Marri Dyin, a six-metre tall puppet representative of the strong and intimate relationship between First Nations people and the land.

Marri Dyin means ‘Great Woman’ and she will be welcoming visitors to her winter camp and the bushland stretching down to the waterfront.

The contemporary spirit is the centrepiece of the Vivid Sydney Barangaroo installation, with Marri Dyin accompanied by a school of fish puppets. These puppets will be played by Sydney school children taught the story of Marri Dyin by First Nations choreographer and dancer Albert David. Different school children will participate each night, in collaboration with ERTH’s performers.

ERTH is a company made up of creators, makers and performers which aims to push the limits of design. With over twenty-five years’ experience, ERTH’s puppet-based productions have travelled internationally and are inspired by natural history, Indigenous folklore, sociology and urban mythology.

ERTH’s Artistic Director Scott Wright said it’s an honour to have Marri Dyin return to Barangaroo, the land of the Gadigal people.

“With her return, we are reminded of our responsibility to deeply respect and value not just one another, but First Nations people all over the world, and of the intangible value of this country’s Indigenous heritage,” Mr Wright said.

“We are welcoming children into Marri Dyin’s nightly ceremony this year, because it is the children that will take what we share with them into the future, ensuring the preservation of ancient knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.”

Vivid Sydney 2019. Barangaroo Winter Camp. Photo by Destination NSW.

Drawn from the changing of the seasons, the Winter Camp installation inspires visitors to reflect on their own experiences in nature within the space. The puppetry and environment is inspired by the traditional winter season migration by First Nations people who would travel south for shelter and food. Winter Camp is a celebration of the oldest living culture in the world.

Murri man Jacob Nash is the Design Consultant and Creative Collaborator. The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) graduate said this year is an opportunity to share more of Marri Dyin’s stories with the people of Sydney.

“The opportunity to collaborate with ERTH and continue to create beautiful contemporary Indigenous images is very inspiring. Not only do we get to tell stories and create things that have never been seen before, but more importantly we get to share these moments with community and inspire the next generation,” Mr Nash said.

The installation will take place from Monday to Wednesday, with Marri Dyin contemplating a crackling campfire. Thursday through to Sunday, she will wander along the water’s edge in the company of the fish puppets.

The audience will be invited to join in preparing for the coming winter with her. Moving through landscape, audiences will be asked to speak the names and meanings of the surroundings in traditional language, and greet children.

Marri Dyin is a contemporary representation of the influence and importance of First Nations women who lived in Sydney prior to colonisation. She represents their strength, spirit and the role women in community play as providers, due to their connection to the land and waterways.

Vivid Sydney is celebrating its eleventh year in 2019 and has strived to continually evolve.

This year’s installation brings together the talents of Erth Visual and Physical Inc., Jacob Nash, Mandylights and James Brown. It’s also proudly supported by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, responsible for overseeing public art and cultural activities in the precinct.

The Winter Camp show can be viewed for free from the 24thof May to the 15thof June between 6pm and 9pm at the Exchange Place and Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo.

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