PIAF: Boorna Waanginy set to bring Kings Park alive with light and sound

PIAF's 'Boorna Waanginy at King's Park. Picture: Toni Wilkinson.

PERTH International Arts Festival will present the next chapter of its big, bold adventure by presenting the ambitious 2017 free opening event Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak at Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

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 school children.

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 8 and 10.30pm.

“The thing that distinguishes any festival is the place in which it happens,” PIAF artistic director Wendy Martin said.

“So at the heart of our dreaming and planning of PIAF is the intention to tell Western Australian stories and to celebrate indigenous culture and the extraordinary ancient environment of the south west of Western Australia.

“In May 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to improve the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people.

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“Fifty years on, Boorna Waanginy will highlight the importance of listening to two streams of knowledge – Noongar knowledge, Noongar culture, Noongar knowledge of country and western science.

“If we are to preserve and protect our environment, these two knowledge systems need to sit and converge side by side.

“Kings Park with its special significance to Noongar people, and its beauty, popularity and importance as a living botanic museum, is a compelling canvas for large-scale storytelling; an experience of wonder and connection.”

PIAF’s ‘Boorna Waanginy at King’s Park. Picture: Toni Wilkinson.

Nigel Jamieson has returned to direct Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak after directing last year’s PIAF opening event, Home.

Jamieson said Kings Park was one of the greatest ecological systems on the planet.

“It has more diversity, more beauty, more variety than just about anywhere,” he said.

“Our show is about two things; it’s about the preciousness which has grown here and been looked after for 50, 60, 70 thousand years by the people who really understood it.

“And it’s also about that on our watch, we face the biggest mass extinction of these plants.”

Jamieson said Boorna Waanginy came from the idea of wanting to make the landscape speak.

He will do just that thanks to the creative talents of artistic associate and designer Zoe Atkinson, media artist Sohan Ariel Hayes, artistic associate and cultural advisor Richard Walley, sound designer Kingsley Reeve and composer Ash Gibson Greig.

“We hope to have hundreds of thousands of people come through for this experience of a lifetime, but also a moment of reflection,” Jamieson said.

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.