Maliyan, the wedge-tailed eagle, Aquilaaudax.
Maliyan, the name for the protecting wedge tail eagle
in the Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay and Yuwaalayaay languages.
This year at Moorambilla, Artistic Director Michelle Leonard and lantern artist and CEO of Lismore Lantern Parade and LightnUp Inc, Jyllie Jackson, decided to create a wedge-tailed eagle, because of its strong connection with Narran Lakes.
Jyllie is working with artist Sara Tinning to create the massive eagle and ten lantern eggs for this year’s 10th Year Moorambilla Celebration Concert. “After I worked with Michelle in 2009, I jumped at the opportunity to come back to Moorambilla – I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation,” says Jyllie.
Paper lanterns are an ancient craft, using hand skills and low technology in today’s digital world. An essentially spiritual art form, they engage with all ages. To create the eagle lantern, Jyllie researches pictures of how they fly and their body structure. She walks and dances like an eagle, to understand how they move. “In a way I had to become an eagle in order to build one,” she says.
The eagle framework is curved from cane – pahang from Borneo. “There’s a constant dialogue and tension between me and the cane as I create it,” says Jyllie. “Pahang bends easily, but it also has a cellular memory, so there’s a possibility it will bend somewhere else,” she laughs.
“I love the way that at Moorambilla all the artists work from each other,” Jyllie explains. “The lines of Frank Wright’s paintings reflect the hidden lines underneath our lanterns, which are revealed when they are illuminated. And the fan dance Anton is creating for MAXed OUT, is the fluttering feathers of the eagle’s huge wings. At the same time, the children are singing new music about Maliyan, the wedge-tailed eagle. As a lantern sculpture this year, he is predominantly white, Jyllie says, as the eagle is a spirit bird.
Sara Tinning has been refurbishing 10 lantern eggs for the performance, using muslin as a base and papering acid-free tissue on top. The eggs represent life and all the thousands of pairs of birds in Narran Lakes and, symbolically, there is one for each of the ten years of Moorambilla Voices.
Sara brings the special skills of dressmaker and costume maker to the lantern art. She gently shapes muslin pieces over the cane, to create the inner skin of the structure. Sponging the tissue paper with glue, Sara creates a translucent outer skin, protecting the structure and revealing its foundations at the same time. When her eggs are lit they seem to breathe against the night sky.
“I hope the audience will come away from seeing these lanterns having felt the connection between earth and air, with an awareness of Narran Lakes and the majesty and marvellousness of this glorious eagle. And maybe they will appreciate the art of lantern making as well,” says Jyllie.
“Lanterns are an incredible artform,” says Michelle. “They are tough and delicate, strong but also fragile – they seem to represent everything in this year’s program. What a delight it has been to have these artists working with us.”
We can’t reveal his final shape – that would be giving it away! You’ll need to wait until September 19 to see the wedge-tail lantern in all his full glory in Dubbo. Tickets online here!
Text and photography: Lliane Clarke