Kings Park trees speak to media artist Sohan Ariel Hayes for PIAF’s Boorna Waanginy


Sohan Ariel Hayes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Sohan Ariel Hayes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

A WALK through Kings Park will never be the same again for those who enjoy Perth International Arts Festival’s 2017 free opening event Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak.

Over three nights, from February 10 to 12, the 1.2km promenade pedestrian-only event will span from the top end of Fraser Avenue to Kings Park Road and through to Pioneer Women’s Memorial.

Road closures will be in place in and around Kings Park while the audience discovers a visual feast of 3D projections, animation, song and lighting effects as they journey through the Noongar six seasons of the South West Makuru, Djilba, Kambarang, Birak, Bunuru and Djeran.

This is followed by an examination of knowledge, creation stories and extinction, finishing with a seed lantern light installation made by schoolchildren.

The creative team responsible for last year’s Home, including director Nigel Jamieson, artistic associate Zoe Atkinson and media artist Sohan Ariel Hayes, have reunited to bring this ambitious installation to life and make “the trees speak”.

Perth media artist Hayes described the project as like a difficult second novel.

“It’s been full of challenges; to start with, it’s possibly been the craziest projection work I have ever done,” he said.

“This section along Frasers Avenue is 700m and we’re trying to make an image work across that dimension.

“It’s not just a flat image and the trees are incredibly wonderful to work on; they do so many unexpected things, so a lot of stuff that we thought might work, hasn’t.”

Hayes said creativity was always part of his alternate childhood while growing up in a hippy commune in Balingup before his parents moved the family to live with the Orange people (or Rajneeshees) in Fremantle.

His natural progression to a career in art and music sees Hayes work in animation and site-based filmmaking, creating works related to the history of the site.

Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak connects to country and discusses the two kinds of knowledge in understanding land and place: indigenous knowledge and western scientific knowledge.

“It’s the first time I’ve really got how I can adopt some of indigenous culture; it’s not just a set of practices that are like someone else’s religion,” Hayes said.

“It’s a powerful way to understanding the world and our place in it. This walk will connect you to Kings Park in a deeper way than you’ve ever had up until this point.

“At the end you’ll feel a sense of responsibility for looking after it.”

Free shuttle buses will be provided every eight minutes to and from the event and Elizabeth Quay Bus Station between 7pm and 11.15pm.

The audience can arrive any time while the event runs continuously from 8pm to 10.30pm.

Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak is expected to take 45 minutes to complete, plus 25 minutes to walk back to the Kings Park Road entrance.