Ilgarijiri - Things Belonging to the Sky: Connecting Australian Indigenous Artists and Astrophysicists

By Steven John Tingay.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“Ilgarijiri - Things Belonging to the Sky”, is a collaborative project between Australian Indigenous artists and astrophysicists, initiated during the 2009 International Year of Astronomy. Artists and scientists came together to explore their different understandings of the night sky and the Universe. The project connects the ancient and the modern and aims to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Australia through the night sky, a view of the Universe shared by all peoples on Earth. Following a series of group activities, the artists produced interpretations of their experiences in the traditional “dot art” painting style typical of Indigenous Australia. The paintings formed an exhibition that toured around Australian and South Africa in 2009/10. In this paper I describe the process the project followed, show highlights of the art produced and tell the stories of the paintings, and describe the positive outcomes of the project in bringing together two very different sections of Australian society.

Keywords: Australian Indigenous Art, Astrophysics, Exhibition, Reconciliation

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.203-212. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.393MB).

Prof. Steven John Tingay

Professor of Radio Astronomy, Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Tingay is a professor of radio astronomy and a Western Australian Premier’s Fellow. His work focuses on research into astronomy and in particular advances in radio astronomy that will culminate in the construction of the multi-billion dollar Square Kilometre Array. Tingay has published over 190 research articles in astronomy and has secured over $40m in research funding. He is Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, an organisation of approximately 60 staff and students. He has a keen interest in astronomy education and public outreach, in particular to disadvantaged communities. Tingay has recently engaged Indigenous communities in Australia, using art and astronomy as the vehicle to introduce concepts of physics and science, to engage young people in the communities, promote better educational outcomes, and bring Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples closer together.


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