Artistic and Cultural Immersion 2016

Moorambilla Voices is driven artistically by the landscape, stories and histories of the outback New South Wales region. Facilitated in consultation with Indigenous and community leaders, the annual Artistic and Cultural Immersion is a unique and innovative aspect of the program, which sees the artistic team travel to environmentally and culturally significant sites across outback New South Wales.

This model for artistic delivery allows our composers, dancers, visual artists and musicians to genuinely connect with the region and its heritage, producing a more authentic outcome in performance; it has set a new benchmark for meaningful cultural engagement.

In 2016, the second Moorambilla Voices Artistic and Cultural Immersion took place at the Mount Grenfell Historic Site, near Cobar.

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Moorambilla artists, Indigenous elders and environmental experts at Mount Grenfell 2016.

The Mount Grenfell Historic Site

The site is located about 70 kilometres north-west of Cobar in the dry back Country of the Cobar Peneplain —  ‘red Country’. This incredibly beautiful landscape has an ancient history as a meeting place for the Ngiyampaa people, and is notable for its spectacular examples of ancient Ngiyampaa rock art.

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Ancient Ngiyampaa rock art at the Mount Grenfell cave site dates from 50,000 years ago.

Led by Artistic Director Michelle Leonard, the 2016 Moorambilla Voices composers, musicians, artists and choreographers learnt about the histories and spirit of this place, from Indigenous elders and environmental experts.

The written history and recorded language of the region is fragmented owing to the legacy of European settlement – negatively impacting the elders’ ability to practice and hand down their cultural  knowledge in all forms. However, it is clear that there is a vital and ongoing commitment to re-establishing this vibrant legacy and we are delighted to be part of this process.

The team of artists were grateful to be given this time to experience the energy of the landscape and to appreciate the rich depth of cultural knowledge shared by Ngiyampaa Elder, poet and powerhouse  Elaine Ohlsen and elder Peter Harris, with members of the Co-management committee Rick Ohlsen, Lawrence Clarke and Philip Sullivan.

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Grinding stone.  Justin Welsh

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Shells embedded in rock from the ancient inland sea.

Artists participating this year are:

Artistic Director Michelle Leonard,

Composers in residence Andrew Howes, Josephine Gibson, William Yaxley

Composer in focus Elena Kats-Chernin

Taikoz Artist Tom Royce-Hampton and Ian Cleworth.

Choreographer Jacob Williams, Regional Dance Artist Tianga Savage,

Lantern Artists Jyllie Jackson and Sara Tinning

Speaker Clive Birch

Photographer Noni Carroll and Regional Photographers Justin Welsh and Christopher McHughes – Burra Mac Photography.

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Choy trig station.

The composers delighted in the opportunity to focus on aspects of  the landscape – the age of the rocks, the vastness of the horizon, the incredible beauty of the stars and the full moon they experienced sleeping out. The Moorambilla team were supported by General Manager Dayle Murray.

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Night sky: a time for fire and stars

All photographs: Noni Carroll except where indicated.

Also see: Yamakarra! Liza Kennedy and the Keewong Mob, including contributions by Elaine Ohlsen. For more about Mount Grenfell and the NSW Government: here.