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March 4, 2021

Interview with Internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Craig Walsh on Dungarimba Wandarahn

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Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning) A multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history, and story created by internationally acclaimed digital artist Craig Walsh 

Thursday 23 till Sunday 26 May, 6–9pm (production plays on a continuous loop)   |  Opening Ceremony 6pm Thursday 23rd  |  The Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore  |  Free entry

Learning about Lismore

Internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Craig Walsh will create a spectacular, large-scale digital work in The Quad providing a multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history, and story. Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore Place of Learning) is created in collaboration with Southern Cross University’s Indigenous School Gnibi Wandarahn, responding to the Lismore Quadrangle and the site’s heritage-listed history as the original Lismore High School (now the Conservatorium of Music and Lismore Library).

‘It’s effectively a multimedia site sound work,’ says Craig. ‘It’s dual projection. We use video projection on the wall of the library. We can manipulate the spaces, we map spaces and take them out. We also project onto the ground. We have created an intimate space with a surround system. The reason I have done that is because the work itself is a portrait of Aunty Irene. When I started researching the site, I realised it was the old high school and Aunty Irene went to school there. She has lived through the assimilation policy. Her life is almost a mapping around the policy of assimilation in education. It became interesting to see her story and the story of the site and her recollection of existing in a dual culture. Living on the mission in South Lismore, where she had an education based at home with culture and language, she’d go to school where she would not be allowed to use her language.

‘Aunty Irene talks about how Indigenous culture was kept under the carpet. It’s really reflected in the audio,’ says Craig. ‘There’s a whole lot of symbolism that makes the environment reflective of the institution by using earth and nature; we present two spaces and the interplay reflects Aunty Irene’s situation. She was someone who wanted to write her language – she did it in the dirty at home. This is not a narrative like a film. It loops and moves through different experiences and different periods of her life as a young Indigenous woman.’

In this site-specific work Craig Walsh takes us inside and outside the playground to reflect the life of a young Indigenous girl at that time. ‘She had to deal with understanding what racism was,’ says Craig. ‘We tried not to be too explicit. This maps the trajectory of how education is changing and how Aunty Irene and Gnibi (Southern Cross University’s Indigenous school Gnibi Wandarahn) have been working to include language and culture. I have always been fascinated by resilience, to retain culture in harsh circumstances and then helping all Australians get a sense of place.’

Site-specify work is something that Craig started doing two decades ago.

‘I realised,’ he said, ‘that when you work with a site you have be true to the site and talk to the people who understand that place. Early on I realised that I needed ‘tone collaborative’ to make it work. It’s a process I work with all the time; it’s about facilitating the voice of another person and using visual devices to create a shared experience.

‘It would be arrogant of me to think I could go into a place and provide a new insight. So I make art, and create another layer. It’s more internist to be honest, and once distilled it can be defined in many ways. I think it really connects, not just the person who is involved, but its reaction to the people who live in the place. I think it’s how it contributes to understanding about a sense of place.’

This is a collaborative story – showing at The Quad in Lismore from Thursday till Sunday in a continuous loop (20 mins in total).

Dungarimba Wandarahn (Lismore place of learning). A multi-sensory experience of Bundjalung language, history, and story created by internationally acclaimed digital artist Craig Walsh.Thursday 23 till Sunday 26 May, 6–9pm Opening Ceremony 6pm Thursday 23rd.The Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore.Free entry. www.lismorequad.org.au

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